w/ Rock Kills Kid, Matchbook Romance, Hedley
07.11.06 @ Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, Gilford, NH
The last year has been a tumultuous one for Yellowcard. The band’s latest album, Lights & Sounds, failed to match the multi-platinum sales of its 2003 breakthrough Ocean Avenue, and single “Rough Landing, Holly” found Yellowcard mostly abandoned by fickle pop radio. Then there were the internet gossip, singer Ryan Key’s vocal problems, the ever-changing band line-up, and the fan backlash- all inevitable results of extensive touring and runaway success. But still Yellowcard soldiers on, with this tour marking a badly needed back-to-basics approach for the energetic Jacksonville quintet. And fittingly so, of all the weapons in Yellowcard’s arsenal, its powerful, off-the-wall live show is its strongest.
Although poorly attended (the seated amphitheatre was less than half full), both the band and the audience carried a colossal presence throughout the performance. Opener Rock Kills Kid revved up the crowd with their retro dance rock, proving more worthy of success than unappealing single “Paralyze” would lead you to believe. Matchbook Romance, third on the bill, was considerably less animated than the other bands. But singer Andrew Jordan’s vocal prowess cancelled out the band’s formulaic approach to songs from its latest, Voices.
The fans who did shell out thirty-five dollars for the show however, were hanging on Key’s every word, hopelessly devoted, and the band couldn’t have been more grateful as they plowed through old favorites like “Breathing” and “October Nights.” Live performances made songs from Lights & Sounds much more endearing and genuine, especially ballads “City of Devils” and “Waiting Game.” Yellowcard soared through the first half of their set at a breakneck pace, only to fall victim to Key’s rambling intermission, an anecdote chronicling his thoughts on society, politics and such. While musicians need to have a voice, Key preached for far too long. Less talk, more rock dude.
Luckily, the band rebounded with a string of hits. Even though it hasn’t met expectations on the charts, “Rough Landing, Holly” sounded like a number one pop hit, with Sean Mackin’s violin spiraling alongside Ryan Mendez’s loud guitar riffs. The night came to a close with “Way Away” and “Lights and Sounds,” blanketing the band’s satisfied fans in pure power-pop bliss. Don’t believe everything you hear about Yellowcard, because this band is far from throwing in the towel.
Photo by Ashley Megan
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.