Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Rational Academy, Kate Bradley @ Ric's Bar (3.10.07)

This particular show was part of the 2007 Big Sound showcase (and will probably be the only show I see from said event). As such there were plenty of 'industry bigwigs' (I guess?) strutting around with entry cards attached to green sashes hanging from their respective necks. However, Ric's was about as full as it usually is on a Wednesday night, ie: not completely empty, but still with plenty of room to find a space to watch the band / get through to the bar without bumping into anyone.

Glasshouse were the first band to play, but since I didn't really have a huge interest in them I preferred to spend my time during their set sitting outside. In any case, they had really well kept hair, with fashion sense and upbeat songs to match. They may well have been great, I really don't know.

Kate Bradley filled the middle spot. My first time seeing her was when she first started playing solo after quitting from The Autumn Giants (I only got to see said band after she had left). Back then she used to play with a drummer as her only backing, and her music had a really interesting grit and edge to it; it was somewhere between earlier PJ Harvey and Jeff Buckley. Shortly after this she employed a full 3-piece backing band (to go along with her own guitar-playing), which I never really enjoyed as much as her early live format. It sounded too slick for her songs, which benefitted from a more raw approach (or maybe that's just my own preferences coming into play). Theses days she's travelling with a 2-piece rhythm section, giving her the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup. In other words, she's split the difference between her two band formats. I think that for the most part it works - her new bassist isn't afraid to hit the old Big Muff distortion every now and then, while at other times he and her rather metronomic drummer give everything a polished shine during the less rock moments. I still find myself longing for a bit more of that old rawness, but it's a pleasing step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. As for the actual songs played on this particular night, I especially liked the somewhat atmospheric closing song, which seemed to be built on variations of the one chord progression. She also played two songs from her EP, 'Alexander & All Your Daggers' and 'Any Day Now' (which was also an ex-Autumn Giants song).

The Rational Academy played to a fairly receptive Wednesday night audience, sans their (moderately) new bassist. The biggest thing I'm finding about their new lineup is the comparitive simplicity of the parts played by their new drummer; with all of their previous drummers having been quite busy on the kit, it's strange for me to listen to these songs that I've come to know so well being played with such (at times) rudimentary drum parts. Maybe it's just the drummer in me that notices it, and everyone else is blissfully unaware. On some songs the new drum parts fit perfectly - the set closer being a good example of this (I *believe* the song is called 'Pretend It's The Sea'... that's not quite the right name but it's close). However, on an old favourite like 'Pop Repeats' some of the dynamics and power of the song seem have been lost to an extent. Overall, though, I think the new members have slotted in well; it's just one or two songs where I think I just preferred the old way that they were played. I guess that sort of thing is inevitable when a band goes through such a big change in membership.

In any case, the important thing is that the songs are still as good as they ever were. 'Beach Party' will likely be the best local song released next year (if the band stays true to its January 2008 album release date), and all of the other songs that are regulars in their set are also of high quality. I really like their song '2004', however I'm not quite sure why the band insists on singing along to a backing track for that particular number. Surely Ben Thompson has enough guitar pedals to approximate the recorded sound? As far as I can make out it only consists of some pitch-shifted down guitar/bass drones (with some liberal use of delay), some cleanly picked guitar lines, a simple kick drum beat and vocals. Again, I guess that's just my personal preferences coming into play. Certainly, when the song is actually being performed I'm thinking less about the backing track than I'm thinking about how good the song is. They're definitely in my top few favourite Brisbane bands, so I guess my (hopefully fairly minor) criticisms stem from a desire for them to be perfect, which I suppose is a bit of an unfair request. In any case, they're a great band, this was a really enjoyable show and I can't wait for their album (hopefully) early next year.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rational Academy rulz!!!! w00t!!!

Gav said...

indeed.

Anonymous said...

Don't fucking try and suck up to me Gav.

Anonymous said...

As an anonymous poster, I would like to reiterate what I have previously said.

Also, it should be plainly obvious to all that I am the same anonymous poster from previous anonymous posts.

Anonymous said...

Well said

c said...

You're not fooling anyone Boxer

Boxer said...

My apologies to all sundry if any offense was caused by my witty satire of my anonymous friend. Allow me take the this opportunity to apologise for misunderstanding that my comment may have caused. Now, if you good folk will excuse me, I'm off to run around outside and burn off those extra calories I've accumulated thanks to my lax, lazy lifestyle, also, my sensitive and intelligent beard needs trimming.
Good Day

Cam said...

i would like to bet that boxer hasn't even seen this post, let alone commented on it.

Gav said...

I bet his beard needs trimming though.

boxer said...

don't fucking try and suck up to me Gav

Anonymous said...

oh, i promise that new record is coming! its gonna be a feb release date tho, not jan.

also, we sing along to 2004 on the laptop becuz all of the parts were done with keyboards and plugins...u don't want us to have to drag keys + 7 guitars to shows do u? also i really wanted a song i didn't have to play guitar on :-)
x Benjamin