The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Beards, Blazers and Cardigans: Boy Least Likely To

One of the most irritating things about most music criticism is its insistence on slapping a label on every new band that comes out. Perhaps this a neccessary evil in order to better direct readers towards what type of music they're describing. But more often than not, I find genre labels worthless and think that more often than not they end up alienating potential listeners rather than drawing them in.

Take for example, The Boy Least Likely To, the English band that I caught at Spaceland last Saturday night. Every single review of their album or their live show has at some point used the phrase "twee pop". Yet I'm pretty sure that no one actually knows what twee pop actually means and has ever used it in a real conversation. Basically, its a meaningless label used only by music critics and only in the context of an album review. Don't believe me? Then picture how absurd a conversation about "twee," would sound.

Guy 1: So what does the band sound like?
Guy 2: They're pretty fucking twee.
Guy 1: Yeah, but like HOW twee?
Guy 2: I mean, twee as fuck! They take your normal twee pop band, turn it inside and out and give you a handful of twee that will knock your argyle socks off. Both of them.

Still not convinced? Check the Wikipedia entry for Twee Pop. Among the bands listed as "twee," include My Bloody Valentine and Belle and Sebastian. I'm not sure how many of you have listened to MBV's "Loveless" and compared it to B&S's "If You're Feeling Sinister," but if you have you've probably noticed that that the two records sound about as much alike as Slayer and Perry Como (the first Perry Como reference of the day is always the best). And don't even get me started on "Shoegazer" music, that's a different blog for a different time.

So coming into the Boy Least Likely To show, I didn't have much of an idea of what to expect. I'd heard their single "Be Gentle With Me," and liked it enough. It sounds how you'd expect: gentle, non-threatening pleasant enough.

Yet the single and their frequent comparisons to Belle and Sebastian did little to prepare me for the BLLT's live show. Starting out slowly, the songs were affable, filled with jangly Byrds-esque pop music, numbers slipping inside your head "gently" (there's that operative word again). After about three songs, I had a raging debate inside my head whether or not I was actually going to go through and drop the $15 on their album. This lasted for a few more songs until I heard their song "Monsters," which convinced me of the band's legitimacy, with its wild catchiness and dark lyrics that manage to evoke a nostalgia for childhood clashing with the sad inevitablities of adult life.

A five-piece band featuring lead singer Jof Owen, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a woman with the greatest name ever, Amanda Applewood, on the recorder, the band manages to incorporate a wide variety of sounds into their act, including recorders, a banjo, a tamborine and most importantly a glockenspiel. You don't hear a good glockenspiel very often on an album and quite frankly I respect anyone who uses a glockenspiel, primarily because its so fun to type and say the word out loud: "glockenspiel."

With each song, the band seemed to grow stronger and more confident on stage, Jof Owen clapping his hands with each lyric, raising his fist and smiling the entire time. It felt like a celebration of sorts and even for this often-cold-hearted cynic, you couldn't help but enjoy being there, listening to the sound of their rollicking 60s sound. It felt like pop music the way that pop music was originally intended to be. In an ideal word, people wouldn't be listening to bands like Maroon 5 and Green Charlotte, instead if they wanted their fill, they'd turn to a bands like BLLT or Franz Ferdinand. (and don't give me a lecture about how "big-time" Franz is when their second album only sold 300,000 copies...Maroon 5 unplugged went platinum)

Another adjective often thrown out about the band is dream-like, as they seemingly make music that seems to come out of a dim corner of mind that has gone gray over the years, but somewhere reminds you of what it was like to be a child and the world seemed immense and you were dancing around in the living room to the first record you ever heard. If they ever made a Calvin and Hobbes movie (which of course they never will, because Bill Watterson has way too much integrity), the Boy Least Likely To, would make the perfect music to play as Calvin and Hobbes go on one of their walks in the woods.

If anything, the set was all too short, 45 minutes tops without an encore, but it was all right, because the band had seemingly won over the entire crowd, as nearly everyone was tapping their feet along to the infectious music. And they're coming to the Roxy in West Hollywood on June 3rd, so Angelenos will have one more chance to check them out this Spring. I highly recommend checking out the show and picking up their quite excellent debut album, "The Best Party Ever." Also check out the Floating Away blog, for more pics and another review of the show.

Passion of the Weiss Rating: 8.6 crucifixes out of 10


At 1:47 AM, Blogger Nate said...

Saying something is twee can't be as bad as the cats that used to go around saying that shit was "Woah"

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

No, I say worse. When Black Rob comes out with a song called "Twee." perhaps that we can debate that pt better.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Duke said...

nice review. much more thorough than my mini LAist review. i'm really guilty of trying to simplify bands to a few words...i even used "twee" today.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Thanks...hey you're limited at LAist I completely understand. I do have a bit more ranting liberty here. I'm either prolific or unnecessarily wordy. Probably both sometimes. I was just playing about "twee," except for in the case of P-Fork's reviews. I love that website so much but they're reviews are practically unreadable at times with all those buzz words. But in your case, you're limited to like 100 words sometimes. I'm amazed at how much ground you cover in those wrap-ups that you do. And that Little Ones song is awesome by the way, great call there.

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