Thursday, June 26, 2008

Live: Grand Archives

I nearly forgot about the Grand Archives show tonight at Plush, then nearly backed out because of general work-tiredness. Either way, I'd have been a sucker to miss out.

Even given the quick ascent of the band, which formed hardly a year ago and landed immediately on Sub Pop, Grand Archives aren't getting nearly enough buzz. Plush was pretty full and super enthusiastic, which is great for an end-of-June Wednesday, but some of that has to be from the band's Tucson ties.

The simple truth is Grand Archives is an excellent band - with a sound woven together from plenty of threads: obvious influences are the British invasion and Laurel Canyon scenes, but they don't stop there, bringing country, soul and straight ahead bar rock into the mix. The songs are all have a brightness that seems to come mostly from very tight harmony vocals.

All through the show I felt a small guilt that I hadn't yet picked up Grand Archives' record for some reason. And, kinda broke after the cover, I didn't get it at the show either. So I'm tuned into the songs on their MySpace and Sub Pop pages and growing even more hooked.

As hard as it is to write about Grand Archives without the Band of Horses comparisons, I only bring it up to say this: I first saw Band of Horses opening for Okkervil River (twice, actually) long before their first album came out (they were peddling a quickly put together CD of demos and live tracks) and aside from being blown away, it seemed clear to me that the band was a sort of two-headed monster. I was obviously wrong, as the Ben Bridwell-led Band of Horses have taken a slightly different direction after Mat Brooke left the band. But tonight I found what I thought was missing on Band of Horses second album.

Brooke has a light touch, but his songwriting is intricate and he creates a more timeless pop sound than Band of Horses more atmospheric tunes. It's like siblings, who can look the same and different at the same time and figuring out exactly how is not only tough to do, it misses the point.

The band turned in a great version of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night," giving the soul classic a poppier, harmony-laden and guitar-driven feel. And they took a turn doing Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown" in the encore, rocking out with a Stones swagger as they transitioned to the final tune.

Lastly, I'll say that there's a ton of fantastic music in this current Seattle-oriented wave of bands. With the Long Winters, the Fleet Foxes (who hit Solar Culture on Monday) and Sub Pop's non-Seattle acts like Wolf Parade (another soon-to-visit-Tucson act) Blitzen Trapper and a great many others, I'm about ready to give any Northwest band more than a fighting chance based that geographic pedigree alone.

Grand Archives - Torn Blue Foam Couch
Grand Archives - Miniature Birds

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