MFNW Day 5
Silversun Pickups +More
The weeklong music extravaganza better know as Musicfest NorthWest ended today in a fashion to which one would expect from a festival of this magnitude. Much like the night preceding when Girl Talk played, Pioneer Quart House Square was inundated with elated attendees – their eyes transfixed on the massive stage, the myriad of 2000 colored lights, and the animated performances by Atlas Genius, School of Seven Bells, and Silversun Pickups.
Coming all the way from Adelaide, Australia Atlas Genius can attribute their fledgling success to Beatle fanatic parents, a well-balanced listening diet of musical greats such as The Police, The Clash and the Beatles, and oh yes, let’s not forget sheer perseverance. As a result, music has always been a driving force for these Ausi brothers; however, it wasn’t until the iTunes release of their massively successful single “Trojans”, did they began getting calls from lawyers, music labels, and booking agents.
Atlas Genius consists of Keith, Steven, and Michael Jeffery as well as newfound keys player Darren Sell. By the time the first song of the night, “Symptoms” (http://soundcloud.com/atlas-genius/symptoms), had ended there was an immediate response from the crowed with regards to Keith’s thought provoking lyrics and crooning voice, not to mention Michael’s highly energized drum rhythms. Take a listen to “Back Seat” (http://soundcloud.com/atlas-genius/atlas-genius-back-seat) and it’s not hard to detect a tinge of synth-pop not unlike Toro Y Moi. Nonetheless, these guys bring something new to the table that keeps us wanting to listen.
School of Seven Bells has done well for itself in the past year as the band has grown from two to four. With the musical prowess of guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis and vocalist Alejandra Deheza, School of Seven Bells has developed a new sound where in there now exists a more complex soundscape of ambient, electronic sounds juxtaposed with 80’s pop and shoegaze.
Last night’s set included some of the new and old. However, it was tracks like “The Night” from their newest album Ghostory that really captured people’s attention. It must have had something to do with the ethereal voice of lead singer Alejandra Deheza and her abstract lyrics that made last night seem so special. And so, as the waning hours of the day became lost behind downtown Portland’s indomitable skyline, School of Seven Bells kept most of downtown in music until the sun set and made way for the nights headlining act, Silversun Pickups.
“The human sound in the machine” is exactly what lead singer/songwriter/guitars Brian Aubert wants you to think about when listening to Silversun Pickups. In exploring music more fully, their newest album Neck of the Woods sees Aubert, bassist Nikki Monninger, keyboardist Joe Lester, and drummer Christopher Guanlao delve deep into a more heavily textured sound. On tracks like “Lazy Eye,” one can’t help but detect strong influences from the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins and Everclear. But don’t think a sense of originality is lost upon this four-piece pop rock revival.
This fact was made true last night upon their playing “Swoon”, another hit from their 2009 album of the same name.
The relationship between Aubert’s inciting lyrics and Joe Lester’s electronic sounds makes for a different, and no doubt welcomed listening experience. With Joe Lester’s ambient edifice of experimental sounds, Aubert’s impassioned voice, and Christopher Guanlao’s highly polished drum chops there’s a good chance that Silversun Pickups will provide you with a new appreciation for where rock is heading.