Sunday, June 21, 2009

Windows down, volume up: Ladyhawke

The combination of beautiful weather, car culture and a love for loud music is the inspiration for this series I like to call 'Windows down, volume up." Sometimes there are just songs or albums that demand this series of conditions in order for maximum enjoyment.

The first induction to this series is the song Magic by Ladyhawke. This dance-pop single from her debut album Ladyhawke is a synth-heavy, dancefloor worthy, femme rock anthem. Van Halen style keys that channel neon and Aquanet seem to fit perfectly with an artist that has often rocked the black hat a la Debbie Gibson. Peppered with influences such as Roxette and Journey, this album is a great fusion of 80s dance anthems and modern club infused pop.

Proving that dance-worthy music does not have to be as obnoxious and over-indulgent as a Lady Gaga track, the rest of the album holds its own. My Delirium and Back of the Van are two more tracks that you may want to check out if the windows are still down and you haven't quite reached your destination.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Polite ghosts fading quickly

It is hard to believe that so much sound can exude from just three people despite a non-existent rhythm section and a guitarist who constantly looks at his own feet. When I walked into the Troubadour on May 29th, sound was already resonating throughout the building, bouncing off each wall and every swaying body in the packed house. As each song melted seamlessly into the next the delicate harmonies of twin sisters Claudia and Alejandra Deheza rose above the shoegaze synth and guided listeners through the intricacies of their dreamy lyrics.

School of Seven Bells was not even the headlining act at the Troubadour that night and yet the venue was packed to the brim. The crowd seemed mesmerized by the environment that these three musicians created. From the swaying chant of "Iamundernodisguise" to the pop infused "Half Asleep" it is difficult not to enjoy the breeze as you tumble down the rabbit hole.

Born out of a fusion of ideas and a convenient touring schedule, School of Seven Bells consists of former Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and the Deheza sisters formerly of On!Air!Library!. The two bands were touring together opening for Interpol in 2004, but by 2006 Curtis and the Deheza sisters were committed to creating something completely new. The songs are largely shaped by the lyrics which come first and then are supplemented by music. Being fans of atmosphere and melody, the three try to enhance these elements in the creation process.

After the show, I was so impressed with the way these three had managed to re-create the web of sound in their live performance that had seemed so exacting in their studio recording that I was compelled to purchase a vinyl copy of the album. Rarely does a show encourage me to visit the merch table, therefore I wouldn't be surprised if I was still under the spell that the School of Seven Bells seem to cast over the entirety of the crowd at the Troubadour that night.