For the avid concertgoers, there exists the constant debate: when should I arrive at the show? If you plan to see the headliner, do you really want to catch the opening act? In an ideal world (with no obligations, other commitments, or conflicting schedules), my answer is always “yes” even if I’ve never heard of the band. Why? You never know what you’ll discover. Perhaps a sound you’ve never heard, a really interesting and quirky set of musicians, the kernel of something intriguing or perhaps your new favorite band, or just minutes of joy. It’s like going to a good friend’s party and meeting a new acquaintance that you sense you’ll have many adventures to come. Well, here are my “new friends” (or musical gems) I discovered recently* at “someone else’s party”.In the later fall of 2012 I went to go see Julia Holter because I was totally obsessed with the dreaminess of her lush experimental pop. Before Julia took the stage, a band of five lean and young performers took the stage fronting two separate keyboards. From the first note of their set, I was intrigued. What followed was a pleasing array of sounds built around lush layers of keyboards and breathy vocals. Hundred Waters, who fail from Gainesville, Florida (as one raised in Florida I don’t associate my home state with clever and edgy indie rock), create songs that flow between a minimalist film score (such as “Visitor”), a subtle bossa nova tinged baroque electronica (“Me & Anodyne”; they had me at the ampersand), and a quirky mix of space bachelor pad styling of Stereolab (“thistle”). In performance, the deft mix of physical and live percussion created a palatable and difficult to resist groove (“Thistle”). Nicole Miglis’ vocals are a soothing deep falsetto with elf-like enthusiasm reminiscent of a mix of Bjork (but jazzier) and Astrud Gilberto. When the show finished, it felt like you’d spent the past 40 minutes somewhere between ritual and meditation. The sentiment carries through on their self titled release from last year.
Listen here and get ready to drift away: Hundred Waters – Hundred Waters LP .
…I wanna be reprogrammed, I wanna be robotic. – Hannah Georgas on “Robotic”
From the other side of the North American Continent crossing borders but sharing sensibilities is Hannah Georgas, a Vancouver based singer songwriter that produces tightly constructed electronic based pop. (I am glad to know there is a mellower side to BC.) The signature feature of Hannah’s work is the interplay between her vocals (ranging from soothing to invigorating) and the programmed beats and percussion. Working in a field of pop cluttered with a lot sugary, glossed production, Georgas’ sounds is crisper and cleaner accentuating her unique voice reminiscent of fellow Canadian, (Leslie) Feist. With the same wit and charm of Ms. Feist, Hannah’s music runs the gamut of pop from (ostensibly) care-free dance-able numbers (“Millions”), cheeky vignettes (“Shortie”), world-weary introspection (“Elephant”), and amorous aggression (“Somebody”) all done with a disarming mirth even when the subject matter is anything but. Of course, all this isn’t what you hear in live performance. There is always something to be worried about when listening to acts that really heavily on electronic components. I’ve seen artists impress me with their live ingenuity (e.g., Youth Lagoon) as well as disappoint me with a poor ability to integrate backing tracks and live sound (e.g., the xx and Beach House). Personally, I don’t go to shows to hear a band/artist reproduce the record(s) I love. I go for the intensity, the riffing, the improvisation, and the rhythm. Hannah Georgas and her band put on one heck of live show with numbers that get the crowd swaying. On the night in question, my friend had to drag me out of the venue to attend another event; I didn’t want to leave. Now I guess I’ll just have to wait for her return.
In the meantime, I will just have to spend time with her self-titled 2012 release Hannah Georgas (listen here) and watch a live version of “Shortie”, her witty take on Top 40 radio, below .