01 June, 2008

Electa Villain, Ours to Alibi, Today the Moon Tomorrow the Sun @ Vinyl

Last night at Vinyl, Atlanta celebrated the release of Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun's first EP Hurry Up & Wait. The six-song release should serve as a wake up call to local bands, local music fans, and the local music industry. As you've previously read here, the band largely recorded this fantastic record themselves, ushering into Atlanta the growing trend of both established and new bands taking complete control of their music. But it's the passion behind these songs that really serves notice to the local scene. Atlanta has a lot of great fun bands, but outside of Manchester Orchestra there have heretofore been few bands who emotionally invest themselves in their music so intensely and work so dilligently to back up that passion with well-crafted melodies that don't get bogged down in the process of experimentation for the sake of being different. What TTM,TTS have realized is that by simply being who they are their music reaps the benefits of sounding both unique and entirely authentic. In short, this band's experimentation is not just for the hell of it, but instead a genuine outpouring of heart and soul.

The crowd at Vinyl filed in very slowly over a span of two hours, but the numbers eventually grew to about 200 people by the time TTM,TTS hit the stage. As with most record release shows, the vast majority of those in attendance were friends and family of the band, established fans, and a smattering of helpers who in one way or another had something to do with the release of the recording. The show was filmed for posterity, and while there are no plans to do so yet, it could eventually be released to the public. It is also worth noting that the merchandise table was swarmed in a way rarely seen with people wanting a copy of the EP after TTM,TTS's performance.

Electa Villain opened the evening, taking the stage sometime after 9:30. While originally an Athens-based group, the three-member band seems to be embracing what is happening here in Atlanta and putting foward an effort to associate themselves more closely with the city. In my opinion, that is an excellent call on their part as Atlanta's diversity much more accurately reflects the band's music. Frontman Justin Allmett possesses an evocatively mellow voice. He also alternates between guitar and keys from song to song. When Justin plays guitar, the band has a more aggressive sound as one would imagine. But the real shining moments are when he is seated behind the keyboard and the rest of the band is allowed to much more adequately fill the full sonic experience without having to battle for position with the guitar. CK Koch plays a very nice distortion bass style that melds perfectly with Justin's voice and gentle piano keys. CK and Justin in fact create the illusion of an ambient guitar with Justin playing what seem to be standard guitar chords on the piano and CK filling the lower end and adding a slight distortion kick. Jay Murphy completes the lineup on drums. Jay's style focuses more on the creative use of cymbals and tempo changes rather than raw power or plodding timekeeping. The end result is a very pleasant ambient sound that avoids the prolonged simplistic repetitions to which many bands in the same genre fall victim. The band will be performing June 20th at AthFest on the outdoor stage at 6:30. To hear some of their tracks and read a bit about the band, visit their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/electavillain.

Electa Villain performance rating (out of 5): 3.5

Ours to Alibi were up next. A four-piece Atlanta band, the group also delves into the world of ambient guitar rock, albeit more in the vein of Explosions in the Sky. While the band does many things by the book for their genre, they do unfortunately get caught up in long repeating phrases that drag out what could be good two-and-a-half or three minute songs far too long. Therefore, most of the songs come across as meanderings with no real destination in sight despite their intricate beauty. With that said, the band is still listenable to a point, and the songs are obviously painstakingly crafted. It is also worth noting that the band's studio recordings translate much better than their live show, and I would recommend giving any of their three studio albums a shot. In a final defense of the band, ambient guitar rock is a very tough thing to reproduce outside of a studio and usually takes years of working within a tight-knit group to get just right. While the band is not yet capable of doing themselves justice on stage, their attention to detail and collaborative mix should get them over that hurdle within the next few years. To make up your own mind on this band, visit their MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/ourstoalibi.

Ours to Alibi performance rating (out of 5): 2.0

To end the evening, there was of course Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun. It is so rare to find a band that just gets better and better with every single show they perform. Most bands would reach a point where one show worked, and that show becomes the template for every show to follow until it eventually gets a negative response and the process is repeated. Well, TTM,TTS performed their first certifiably awesome show at the end of last year but have continued to refine their transitions, stage bravado, and brief experimental departures making show after show exponentially better than the last. This one was no exception. The band started the set with a new song before launching into the tracklist of the EP. While all of the songs are excellent, the real standouts are "Fleets & Beats", the well-polished and witty "Never.Always.Good", and hard rocking guitar freak-out "Arpeggiator" featuring Cregg on vocals. The most welcome tweaking of the performance was the addition of several extra drums played by Lauren and Micah along with Jeremy at the end of "Fake Sleeper". The band judiciously used the alpha and omega theory to close the show with an alternate version of "Terrain", the first song the band wrote together. The song was divided into two parts with the band fully exhibiting their electronic and more experimental side in the first half before once again grabbing the guitars for the second half to make one final indelible stamp on the minds and ears of the crowd. As is customary for record release shows, especially those in support of an EP, the set was somewhat shorter than normal, but I don't think anyone in attendance would complain they didn't get their fill of this incredibly gifted upstart band. It hurts my head to think of anything else they could pull out to make future shows even better, but if there is anything to be added, this band will most certainly find it.

Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun performance rating (out of 5): 4.8

Once again, to get your own copy of the EP, Hurry Up & Wait is available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and EMusic. Better still is the option of getting the full experience by attending one of their shows and purchasing a physical copy directly from the band. There are also alternate versions of several songs available for free on the Have You Heard? podcast blog at http://www.haveyouheard.net/have-you-heard-sessions/.


robbie dee said...

great review of the show, but i don't see how TTMTTS could've played for longer. outside of the covers they played a few weeks ago, i don't think that there's much more in their repertoire, unfortunately. while i would've loved it if they played for an extra, say, half hour, i definitely understand that they couldn't stretch it out for more. it was a great show, the best i've seen them yet (which has been a bunch). my pics from it are going to be posted in the coming days. feel free to use any of 'em for a future write-up. http://www.flickr.com/photos/foocow

J.C. said...

Electa Villain was definitely the highlight of the evening. I had never heard of them until then, and they blew me away. It was a great surprise, although it did make the other bands pale in comparison. I actually thing that TTMTTS was the weakest performance of the night. Ours to Alibi did drone on, but I still enjoyed their set much more than TTMTTS.