EDIT: Oh, and a review!
It's a damn shame that The Long Winters' 2006 record Putting The Days To Bed has been so overlooked and underappreciated by most everyone, including myself. It's one of those albums that I forget is on my iPod until I go cruising for something to listen to and spin it and am reminded what a terrific pop gem it is. Witty, erudite and charming, John Roderick is a top-notch songwriter for those of use who like our songs wordy and he's the same way as a frontman... but I'm getting ahead of myself. There were two other bands on the bill at the El Mocambo on Tuesday night. Them first.
I don't think there's any way that naming your band after a Belle & Sebastian song can be construed as a good idea, but if you were expecting cardigan-tugging twee anthems from Portland's Stars Of Track & Field, think again. The duo instead offer up an overly-earnest mix of Coldplay sensitive anthemicism and Postal Service electro-pop that just wasn't especially interesting. And I tend not to trust any band that sees fit to go on tour with a Floyd-worthy stage setup of smoke machines and motorized spotlights but no bassist. Especially if they're wearing ascots.
Los Angeles' Broken West were already in my good books for a) turning out an excellent Cal-pop debut in I Can't Go On, I'll Go On earlier this year and b) opening up day two of Hot Freaks two weeks ago at the ungodly hour of 11AM and still turning in a great set. On this however, their Canadian debut performance, they should have billed themselves as The Broken Strings as they broke no less than three guitar strings within the first few songs of their set, forcing both guitarists to play Keith Richards-style. As a result (or coincidentally), their set wasn't especially tight and they were also plagued by a rather dodgy mix coming out of the PA. They still made it through an shortened set (maybe not wanting to play longer and tempt the fates further) and the strength of their songs still came across, but I hope they make it back soon and have better luck. And some extra high-e strings.
And back to John Roderick and gang. The man totally reminded me of your favourite high school history teacher, the one that you could imagine going out for drinks with or fronting a rock band in his spare time. Declaring the show to be all-request from the get-go, the band let the audience - smallish but obviously devoted - dictate the set list. Though a lot of the selections ranged back to earlier records, EPs and singles, they still managed to cover a lot of material from Days, which is good since that's their only record I'm really acquainted with. But for popsmiths of Roderick's calibre that's hardly a prerequisite for enjoying the songs - those hooks make good contact the first time around. Combine that with the fact that Roderick is, as mentioned earlier, a grade-A stage banterer and the fact they got the mix sorted out and things were actually sounding pretty good and you had a fine evening.
The Long Winters have been doing mucho Canadian press on the current tour (which if you're still downstream you'd do well to check out) - they talked to Canada.com Montreal, Canada.com Edmonton, Vue, The Georgia Straight and Chart. OnMilwaukee also say hello. JAM!, meanwhile, chatted with Stars Of Track & Field.