Saturday, 3 November 2007

BigStrongBrute, All & Sundry @ Ric's (2.11.07)

Due to ordering too much freakin' food at The Alibi Room (something I seem to do EVERY time I go there), I missed the first half of All & Sundry's set. This turned out to be a bit of a shame, as the performance of the 4 songs that I caught was much stronger than the previous time I'd seen the band (at Fat Louie's last month) - and this with the band being one member down, since their violinist was unable to make the show. All & Sundry's sound is a ragged inspired brand of indie-rock that still manages to squeeze in a bit of that post-punk thing (mostly thanks to their guitarist/vocalist's style of playing) - it's kind of like rockier Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co mixed with The National, with the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar) laying down a foundation that ranges from that modern 'angular' thing through to something more rustic, while lap-steel guitar and (usually) violin add a rough-hewn quality to the songs. Sometimes it all comes together, with the disparate elements melding into a uniform sound. Other times it can come across as though the music is pulling in two separate directions. This was, however, only their 4th or 5th show, and with the improvement evident between this and the last show I saw I have confidence that they'll be able to reconcile the different elements in their sound to create something more consistent. They already have a not-insignificant number of songs that have been able to achieve just that.

I haven't seen BigStrongBrute in a long time. In fact, I had no idea that the (as far as I was aware) predominantly electronic solo project of one Paul Donoughue (of Tragic Athletic / Rational Academy / Yeow Meow fame) had recently morphed into a full band, complete with guitar, live drums, keys, trumpet and female backing vocals. I've been informed that this is a very recent change, so I don't feel quite so out of the loop. Anyway, I like this new setup a lot more than the previous. As with All & Sundry, BigStrongBrute's sound is country influenced indie rock with a modern twist; in BigStrongBrute's case it's a slight noise-rock bent. To be honest I'm not really too sure what to say about their music. There was a gospel song. There was indie-pop. There was a noise song. There was a country duet. There was all of this mixed into the same song. There was certainly a lot of energy on stage - Donoughue in particular came across as a sort of amalgamation of Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Tim Harrington, though the band's keyboardist/trumpet player seemed to hold his own off to the side of stage.

So, BigStrongBrute... I arrived not really knowing what to expect from them. I got something I wasn't expecting. I'm still not quite sure what to expect from them next time. I just know that I am fairly keen to see them again.

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