Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Album Leaf @ Detroit Bar

Growing up is a strange process. It seems that I look back on my high school years as a complete world in and of its self. The romance of puppy love, the innocence of hormones, puberty, first kisses, last kisses, junior varsity, tardiness, “unsatisfactory behavior,” yearbooks. It was all there and is associated with that place that many (do to the fact that we grew up there and our parents still reside there) call home. But now, after moving away and creating my own home away from home, it is strange to return to that place where I spent the best years of my life.

An opportunity as such was available to me this past evening as we “roadtripped” to Costa Mesa to catch the Album Leaf at the Detroit Bar. But coming home without the assurance and support of your usual support group, i.e. friends and family, makes for a much different experience than to visit by means of a social gathering, a relative’s birthday, or a best friend’s sister’s graduation party. At the Detroit Bar, the friends I had come with, all from different parts ranging from LA to Salt Lake City, were running into people they knew from here or there resulting in a semi-embarrassed self that ques
tioned whether he was really in a familiar place at all.

This mindset played around within my head as I watched the superbly talented Lymbyc System power through their opening set. It’s easy to be let down by a two-piece, but this band of brothers, Mike and Jared Bell, though lacking in numbers made up for it with sound. Their keys and drum dichotomy created instrumental soundscapes that could rival the emotional density of Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai. What resulted in their minimalism in instrumentation and band members was a truly synergistic sound where the end amount surpassed the sum of its parts.
The Album Leaf, on a small tour testing out new material for their upcoming album, Into the Blue Again, played through a healthy set pairing new songs with some older highlights. The newer songs seemed to pick up where In A Safe Place left off which is always a tad bit underwhelming. Since the Album Leaf have the great talent of duplicating their songs live in an almost verbatim fashion, it is fair to say that the new material is strong adding a little more power behind the band’s punches.

Yet, some of the Album Leaf’s usual shortcomings are still apparent. Jimmy Lavalle still writes songs based around his skill of crafting hopeful synth symphonies layered atop a garden of ticks and tacks. When Lavalle opens his mouth to accompany any of his songs it seems that he is hiding behind the lush instrumentation that he is known for. Of course it is easy to hide a voice that is all too forgettable. It is just a wonder what a pairing it would be to have a voice that could match the lush sonic orchestras that Lavalle creates. Such pairing was seen on “Over the Pond” where Sigur Ros front man, Jonsi Birgisson, added his vocals to the mix to create one of the more powerful songs on In A Safe Place. I don’t know what the final plans are for Into the Blue Again but I wouldn’t mind Lavalle pulling a Santana and grabbing some strong lungs to couple with his music.
The Album Leaf will be releasing Into the Blue Again on SubPop on September 12. Be sure to check out their Myspace to preview four new tracks from their upcoming release.

You are who you know.

[mp3] The Album LeafSpinning Makes Me Dizzy
[mp3] The Album LeafMicro Melodies (Live)
[mp3] The Lymbyc SystemMy Lost Last Step


Blogger Joe Fielder said...

Wow. Great stuff. Thanks for the recommendation, guys.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too be honest,the Lymbyc System was great so good. I don't want to gush but it really was. I wasn't as impressed with their EP after first listen but they are working on a new album at the moment and they only played one released song at the show so I guess that makes since why the EP didn't have the same magic.
Joe, you gotta check them out come septemberwhen they come to KFLA.

12:09 PM  

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