This last week has been an excellent one for live music. Last Wednesday, local promoter Simple Play brought the Nashville based ensemble Alanna Royale to Gasa Gasa. Fronted by the indomitable Alanna Quinn-Broadus, the band delivered its explosive blend of “dirty pop/raunchy soul” to a small but devoted crowd. Alanna Royale is part of a contemporary renaissance of the Nashville music scene. They join acts like Justin Townes Earle, Those Darlins’ and Diarrhea Planet in making a run for national prominence. In person, Alanna’s voice is even more powerful than on her recordings. Her stage presence exploded from Gasa’s small stage and completely filled the space. In a tight set that covered material from their debut album and first EP, the band took opportunities to play old favorites and even run through a Black Sabbath cover. This is the sort of music that belongs in New Orleans. Alanna and crew would perfectly fill an early Acura stage slot at Jazzfest, opening the day for Irma Thomas’ perennial showcase.
Monday night we continued our streak of outstanding surprise shows by international heavies. Between the Foo Fighters two weeks ago and alt-J this week we have truly had an embarrassment of riches. The alt-J show was so last minute that New Orleans doesn’t show up on the concert poster for their current tour. Either way we were happy to have them. This remarkably developed young band formed in Leeds in 2007 and won the Mercury Prize for their first full record in 2012. We were fortunate enough to have a visit from them during the 2013 Buku festival. The band that took the stage Monday night at the Civic was a far cry from the one that headed out onto the Ballroom Stage two years ago. For one thing bassist and producer Gwil Sainsbury has sense left the band, which lead to speculation about what the second alt-J record would even sound like. That speculation would only last till September when they released This is All Yours to critical acclaim. This new alt-J retains the complex rhythms and vocalizations of the first record but has established the playful ease with which they have transitioned into their stardom. Even the title of the new record points to the fact that their sound and their efforts even though they are derived from a long standing tradition of British pop music speak directly to their modern audience. For their part the audience was fully present on Monday. The sell out crowd sang both the songs and the harmonies along with Joe Newman. A highlight of the evening was the performance of both parts of the song Bloodflood back to back. Bloodflood is from the first record, while Bloodflood Pt. 2 is from the second. Taken together these songs create a continuum that connects the exploration of the first record with the pastoral motifs of the second. As has often been the case for alt-J, the night ended with the track Breezeblocks a fan favorite that the band clearly loves to play. On the whole an outstanding evening of music in a month that has been rich in fantastic performances.
Tracks to check out this week:
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper released a new track from her upcoming March 3rd release.
Belle and Sebastian released a new track from their upcoming January 19th release. This song is accompanied by a video cut together from submissions that fans sent in having only read the lyrics and accompanying emotional moods.
alt-J at the Civic New Orleans 12/8/14
Hunger of the Pine
Left Hand Free
Bloodflood Pt. 2
(Ripe & Ruin)
Every Other Freckle
The Gospel of John Hurt
(Bill Withers cover)