Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Drums

I love the composite sketches of songs that stay with me after a radio show. When my mind runs the "Boy girl revolutionaries... YOU AND ME!" segment from "Her Jazz" over and over on a loop until it suddenly somewhat (but somewhat not) inexplicably fades into the chorus of the Magic Bullets song "The Upstairs Flight," and then the whistled intro to the Drums "Let's Go Surfing."

Oh the Drums.

I saw them play at NYC Popfest. I didn't have the best view as Cake Shop is not configured to offer the best view to those not immediately in front. The sound was quite good though, and from what I heard I knew that the Drums were something special. It's just that... they played late Sunday afternoon. I'm fairly certain it was before I went to find my first meal of the day, and I'm also fairly certain that I was still anxiously wondering whether or not someone that I used to know a lot better than I do now was going to walk through the door at any minute. I did not give the Drums the level of my attention that they deserved. This sub par level of attention was in fact so severe that despite several friends referring to them as a highlight over the next few days, somewhere in the ensuing haze that took over my memories of both New York and San Francisco Popfests the Drums were lost completely. It wasn't until checking my Radio Free Silver Lake email account last week that they were rightfully pushed into the front of my mind. There were plenty of quotes in this email from various blogs citing them as a major Popfest highlight of course, and the memories started flooding back. However, it was a different quote in the email, this one from the band itself that really grabbed my attention:

"We just wanted to start a band that sounded like The Wake." say The Drums, "We heard their song 'Pale Spectre' and went crazy! Maybe our music didn't turn out sounding too much like The Wake but we're really just like everybody else, chasing that perfect pop song. And that's not so bad right?"

I think I stopped just short of smacking myself on the forehead with the palm of my hand like people do in sitcoms. Brian told me about this band a few Hungry Beat!'s ago, only he thought that the Wake song they were inspired by was "Crush the Flowers." I do remember really wanting to hear any band that formed because they wanted to sound like the Wake. Their influence is definitely apparent, but that influence does somehow filter out into a sound that sounds rather current and exciting. They are releasing their Summertime E.P. on September 15th through the New York based Twenty Seven Records label, but you can pre-order it from Insound. Insound says the release date is August 4th so I suppose that if it shows up sometime that week, it's just an added bonus. Not too mention a whole extra month of the summer to enjoy an E.P. with the title of Summertime.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

St. Christopher

I can't remember if they played "All of a Tremble," at either St. Christopher show that I experienced this past weekend. It's the song that I've been most consumed by since purchasing the CD collection of all of the singles from the Sarah years at the show, but I just can't remember if we heard it at either show. I feel like we must have, but I just can't be sure. I know that we heard "You Deserve More Than a Maybe," at both shows. Yvonne was finally able to encourage a small group of us to dance to that one in the awkward (and curiously underpopulated room) in Ventura, and we danced again at the reassuringly fuller Echo the next night. I stood still during "Say Yes to Everything" in Ventura, even though that single is the only St. Christopher single that I've ever owned, and one of my absolute favorite songs to soundtrack any dance party. The stillness was made up for the next night at the Echo when I apologized to Mary for the spoiler, but continued on in telling her that the next song was going to be "Say Yes to Everything," and that we were going to have to dance. We did, and were eventually able to draft Yvonne, and perhaps even John and Eric into dancing with us as well.

This is all presented as a way to examine the idea of what it really is that constitutes a great show. Does one have to recognize every song? Because I didn't, I vaguely recognized more than I thought that I would, but I did thoroughly enjoy pretty much every song that I heard nonetheless. And must each song have to contain every element from the recorded version? This is a particularly important point to address it seems, when you are dealing with songs that have meant so much to so many over the years. As it turns out, the songs can still sound pretty great with simply drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. Glenn's voice was in top form, and his excellent lyrics did come across. The lack of timpani in "Say Yes to Everything" was jarring, sure, as was the absence of the intricate keyboard on "Antoinette." That last one was according to Yvonne, of course, although having heard the song now I know what she means. Still hearing it played live at all was so lovely, and the way they bled it into it's B-side "Salvation" was just cool. Watching Brian having what looked to be amazing fun with these bass lines that he'd only learned a week before, and only had the occasion to practice with the band for seven hours on the previous Friday was undeniably cool as well. And Jesse's comment that in Ventura it looked like Michael Jackson was playing bass for St. Christopher because of Brian's small white hand cast that was the last remainder of a recent bike injury just added another level of surreality to the whole thing. And St. Christopher will now perpetually remain in my mind, "The band that played two of my favorite shows during one of the most fun weekends of my life."

You can (and should) pick up a copy of the St. Christopher compilation Lost at Sea: The Sarah Recordings right here.