Live Review: Little Brazil, The Photo Atlas; Monroes tonight …

Category: Blog — @ 3:09 pm March 24, 2007

The thing I noticed about Little Brazil that I just barely touched upon in this most recent article about the band: Landon can sing. Of course he can sing, but he actually does sing when he’s on stage. Notes. Words. Everything. Unlike Alan Andrews, the guy who fronts The Photo Atlas, who opened for Little Brazil last night at Sokol Underground in front of 250 or so people. Andrews did that ol’ atonal yell/sing/staccato/shrill/screech vocal thing that we last heard on the first Rapture album (back before the Rapture became a “dance band”). Andrews’ voice was a young voice, younger than Landon’s even though Landon is probably older than him. It’s an emo voice (neu emo vs. real emo) and it’s probably exactly what the kids want to hear over this punky, percussive music where the angular riffs are repeated atop a quick, straight-up 4/4.

Landon, on the other hand, is a pure crooner, an Omaha-style indie singer cut from the same bolt of cloth as Tim Kasher (a la The Good Life, not Cursive). Every time I see him with his just-woke-up hair and cheap wireframe glasses I think of Corey Haim as Lucas or a bespeckled Bobby Brady, age 13. His voice kinda/sorta matches his appearance — an unpretentious caterwaul that has no problem reaching for the high notes at the peak of a heart-wailing phrase. Little Brazil’s music isn’t exactly a bold, new direction in the world of indie rock. You got your cool guitar riffs, your lean bass lines, your thunderous drums (Oliver Morgan is always at his best every time I see him on stage — he has no second gear), coming together to form a verse-verse-verse song (why are there never any choruses these days?) that typically builds to a predictable — if satisfying — “big ending.” The differentiator — Landon’s Bobby-at-13 voice, that is both honest and simple and, well, good enough to cut through the din. It’s kind if quirky, but perfectly on pitch. And it follows a melody that rises and falls — unlike Andrews’ atonal, one-note, auctioneer bleatings that are more about rhythm then melody.

Landon held back on a couple songs, and I’m not entirely sure why. On “Southern Florida” off You and Me he clearly was trying to get the crowd to sing, waving for them to bring it on, and many of those huddled around the stage did. It wasn’t exactly a soccer chant, but it was still pretty impressive. A couple other times, though, he seemed to be singing off the side of the microphone, and throughout the evening he complained that his glasses were fogging up in the Sokol heat and humidity. Two or three times he said “I can’t see.” Once he said “I can’t breath.” I was ready to call a doctor. For the most part, though, he sounded pretty good, while the rest of the band sounded road-hardened and ready for another six weeks on the road.

By the end of their one-song encore, all of the Photo Atlas guys were on stage with their shirts off, as one by one, friends and fans joined the band on stage, jumping around and popping balloons (yes, there were balloons, released halfway through the first song). It was a fitting victory lap after a long tour. Now it’s off to Denver to return the Photo Atlas’ favor by opening for their CD release show. And then…?

Tonight at O’Leaver’s it’s The Monroes with Lincoln’s Robot Creep Closer and Denver’s Flobots; Bad Luck Charm and Jaeger Fight at The Niner and Such Sweet Thunder and Bad Canadians at The Waiting Room. Stay dry.

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