Friday, August 7, 2009

Reunited, and It Feels So Good: Each Other's Mothers at Silent Barn, 8/2/09

In what I've come to think of as typical Mother's fashion, Each Other's Mothers played a reunion show this past Sunday that wasn't really about them. Instead, it was about their friends, fellow bands, and community, and was a celebration not so much of their regrouping, but of the DIY ethos that made the show possible. Apparent long-time friends Taigaa and Algernon Cadwallader, as well as out-of-towners Songs for Moms, filled out the bill, and Silent Barn, located in Ridgewood on the Queens side of Wyckoff Avenue, provided the site for what might turn out to be the show of the summer.

Taigaa opened the show with their suggestively rhythmic, bass-heavy jams. An experimental trio featuring keyboards and bass as well as percussion and synthesized drums, Taigaa has a pleasingly schizophrenic sound. Cold, robotic synth sounds clash against a warm and sensual 'real' instruments. The result, on Sunday night at least, was a surprisingly successful and undeniably sexy techno jazz that sets Taigaa apart as true originals, and as a Band to Watch.

Songs for Moms of San Francisco, who loudly and joyfully answer the question "What if Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two sounded more like That Dog?" with their wild combination of crooning harmonies, country-style guitar picking, bouncing basslines, and fast crashing breaker percussion, played their rockabilly-goes-surfing style songs about love, loss, and gender to a receptive crowd. SFM got everyone in Silent Barn moving, and got the floorboards shaking.

The penultimate Algernon Cadwallader stood out on Sunday night as the only band on the bill with male musicians. An all-guy band from Philadelphia, AG plays deceptively simple songs reminiscent of the old Mid-western Polyvinyl sound. They sound accessible at first, until tricky guitar work and marching percussion takes an unexpected turn or swerve into dissonant harmonies that disorient you for long instrumental passages that right themselves before the tune's end. AG sounded to me like musical pointilism: it made more sense, and was more enjoyable after I learned to stand back and 'see' the whole picture.

By the time Each Other's Mothers played, Silent Barn's performance area was unbearably hot and stuffy, and the entire place was charged with anticipation. Excitement over the band's reunion was palpable. But it still wasn't really about them -- EOM graciously thanked the 'staff' at Silent Barn, the other bands, and the audience, and guitarists Rachel and Kathi commented on the importance of DIY all-ages venues. It was a refreshingly
non-self-aggrandizing reunion set.

EOM is a difficult band to review, mostly because it's hard to stand still and simply observe their performances -- the building momentum and waves of kinetic energy coming from all four musicians makes it impossible to not dance at least a little bit. (Anyone remember that Miami Sound Machine song "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You"? That about sums it up.) This past Sunday at Silent Barn was no exception. You wouldn't know that the band just came off of a long, and almost permanent hiatus; their bold, lithe instrumental compositions sound fresh and (post?)modern.

An old video of Each Other's Mothers that doesn't in any way, shape, or form begin to do them or their live show justice.

There's something about EOM and their music that's hard to pin down, and I suspect that this is deliberate. Their light, but never flimsy music is never too heavy, nor is it ever too thin -- it's a just right combination of intertwining lead guitars, bass undertones, and solid, but never overbearing percussion. Harmonically, their songs don't sound quite major, and they don't sound quite minor, either -- they refuse to be one or the other. EOM's songs develop quickly, and organically, and they take key and tempo changes that sound arbitrary. In other words, it sounds like the songs change when they feel like it. The songs don't explain themselves; they just are. And in this context, the shouts of "Extra, extra, read all about it!", the only vocals in any of the songs EOM played on Sunday, sounded willful and defiant, like a dare to scrutinize and attempt to label their music.

But no one was labeling Each Other's Mothers on Sunday night. From what I saw, everyone fortunate enough to be at Silent Barn that night was too busy having a good time.

Silent Barn -- at myspace
Taigaa -- at myspace or their official site
Songs for Moms -- at myspace or their official site
Algernon Cadwallader -- at myspace or on their official site
Each Other's Mothers -- at myspace

1 comment:

Star Beat Music said...

I was at this show to. Reminds me of how good my summer was. It's great seeing the videos to. I’m glad you were there to, so you could write this awesome review, one I wish I’d written. I also really wish I had taken pictures to capture this greatness, but I was too distracted enjoying my surroundings and the amazing bands. I had never heard of any of these bands until that night. I didn’t know what to expect. But I didn’t go in there with any expectations either.

Two friends of mine invited me and were pretty stoked on the line-up so I decided to venture with them. A bunch of friends we knew ended showing up, so it seemed like a big party. Really it did seem like friends getting together to enjoy good music on a Sunday night, definitely about community. The audience didn’t seem as diverse as I usually see at shows, which is the only remotely negative thing I’d have to say about the show. I understand it’s a scene, but frankly it would’ve been cool to see more guys there. A friend said that it’s like a new riot grrl scene. Perhaps. The closer I look at Brooklyn’s burgeoning music scene and female musicians, the more I think this could be the case.

I was unfamiliar with the style of music all these bands presented, but I was quickly intrigued. They took a different approach to music. They all have their influences, but it was good hearing music I typically don’t and an instrumental band. It was packed during Each Other’s Mothers. There was much dancing for their set to and if memory serves, a mini mosh pit? I also really always like seeing Rachel perform because she smiles a lot. I couldn't help but smile through the set myself.