Live Review: The Nein, Little Brazil; Todd Grant Project tonight

Category: Blog — @ 4:00 pm March 13, 2005

O’Leaver’s continues to pick up momentum to the point where there’s always an SRO crowd, at least for the last three or four shows I’ve seen there. Not huge, but big, respectable (though I’m told hardly anyone was there for The Flesh Wednesday night, but that’s another story). The stars were out for The Nein last night. Plenty of local music notables, bands, label people. The Nein is The White Octave without Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen (who was in the audience cheering on his former comrades). With a new CD out on Sonic Unyon, the band carried itself like seasoned indie rock veterans, playing tunes that sounded like typical angular indie rock with a hook. The lead singer/guitarist has a voice that (when you could hear it in the poor mix) was reminiscent of a young, gritty Elvis Costello — a comparison that will seem out of the blue for these guys who would probably prefer to be compared to the usual suspects (Gang of Four, Pixies, etc.). Their music, of course, sounded nothing like Costello’s. Overall, I guess I liked it, though we’ve all heard these songs before in one form or another. I think if they pulled it back they’d be better for it. That said, the CD is a keeper and worth finding.

You could blame the sound for The Nein’s less than magnetic live performance, except for the fact that the band that followed never sounded better. It was the second time I’ve seen Little Brazil v. 2.0 and probably their best live performance. I’ve been hearing some of these songs for what seems like two years now (they still play the tunes that originally appeared on their self-produced demo). Little Brazil doesn’t do anything terribly different than any other indie pop-rock band. They live off their rhythm section, specifically the bass lines that give all the songs an undeniable bounce. The secret ingredient continues to be Landon Hedges’ clear-yet-quirky, almost forlorn voice that has the same strange lonely lilt as everyone’s favorite green muppet – no, not just like it, but with that same sad, honest quality. He’s got the voice of your little brother or the guy who sat alone in study hall reading comic books who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s pre-puberty Peter Brady. And maybe it’s because I’ve heard all these songs so many times that the new one, which Hedges said they’ve only played live a couple times, seemed so good – a typical indie song that starts by focusing on Hedges and a spare guitar line, bleeds into a medium-tempo rocker and ends with the usual bombast, Hedges yelling the same line over and over before joining everyone else in the pounding. Little Brazil is first and foremost an indie rock band in the classic manner, but I have to wonder how they’d sound playing a set of straight-up electric ballads. As respectable as their new full-length is amidst the multitude of indie CDs crowding the bins these days, it’s the next record that will push them out of that enormous and faceless pack. It has to.

Tonight, Whipkey, Todd Grant and Dolorean at Sokol Underground, $7, 9 p.m.

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