Japandroids at Bluebird Theater, 11/18/12
Tom Murphy Swearin' at The Bluebird Theater
Swearin' from Philadelphia opened the show with a sound that was very much a mid-90s alternative rock sort of thing -- the Breeders, perhaps the Pastels, a touch of Weezer and the Pixies. Some of us have seen this sort of thing in the '90s aplenty and may not have been blown away by any originality here. Just the same, none of it felt like a nostalgia trip. The band played with a real sense of fun and exuberance. It was also incredibly refreshing not to see a younger band adopting that garage and/or surf rock vibe for a change. When's the last time you saw a new band invoke the loud-quiet-loud style of music exemplified in the music of Mission of Burma and The Pixies?
It's been so out of fashioned and uncool for so long, that seeing this band do it well -- like they were rediscovering a whole vein of influence most modern bands have dumped, and then reinventing it and giving it life with an adroit playfulness -- was refreshing. Sure it would be easy to compare Kyle Gilbride's vocals to those of John Atkins when he was in 764-Hero, or even Allison Crutchfield to Tonya Donelly, but both have excellent voices that are very much their own and ultimately the same could be said of the music. "Kill 'Em With Kindness" was especially forceful, fun and splintery.
Personal Bias: Japandroids are one of the very few rock and roll bands that make you excited about rock music because those guys are so excited to be playing it and engaging with the audience in a positive and real way.
Random Detail: Japandroids actually sold cassettes at the merch table.
By the Way: Celebration Rock should be on the year-end best list of every music critic that has an interest in rock music. Also, Swearin' have an excellent self-titled album that was released on Salinas Records this year.