Monday, May 21, 2007

Trashcan Sinatras. Mercury Lounge, NYC, April 23, 2005.

I had no expectations of this triple bill, and I was pleasantly surprised by all three. By the end of the night I had found a new band to add to my list of favorites. Elizabeth Harper is a singer/songwriter with the acerbic wit of a Morrissey. She had an appealing and intriguingly quiet, yet edgy stage presence. The Silent League was anything but quiet. A large group, led by keyboardist Justin Russo, they blew through a set of impassioned and classic-sounding chamber pop compositions that were musically and lyrically exhilarating. There was much self-deprecating patter between songs, as when the guitarist said, "Soft rock is hard," at once putting a spin on the famous Barbie quote ("Math is hard!"), and satirizing the category they would most likely be lumped into by some default.

Headlining Scots, Trashcan Sinatras, had their merch being sold by a guy in a kilt up front near the door. The band looked like a bunch of ordinary guys that happened to walk out on stage by accident. After a few songs, I realized I was in the midst of a virtual fan club rally. It seemed most everyone in the room recognized each song from a single guitar strum, and they inevitably sang along to the choruses. I had never heard any of their music, but I was pulled in by the chiming, rolling and spiraling nature of their songcraft. They were in support of their new cd Weightlifting. The main focus of the band is Frank Reader (far left in the pic), a handsome poet in the sensitive/tragic style. If John Lennon and Bryan Ferry got married and had a baby boy, the little tyke would grow up to be Frank Reader - he's that compelling. What astonishes about the tunes on Weightlifting is how they begin with such cast-off nonchalance. After the first verse, you think, "it's not bad, should I fast-forward?" Following a couple of choruses, you think, "oh yeah, this is good." Then about three quarters into the song, you're completely swept away by the undertow of a swirling
3-minute masterpiece of songwriting. And this happens over and over on Weightlifting. By the end of their set I was a believer, and I walked up Broadway in the cold spring rain with a warm feeling for a new favorite.

Trashcan Sinatras. All The Dark Horses:

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