Beards, Blazers & Glasses: The Twilight Sad
Ian Cohen inadvertently cursed me before I even had the chance to play the Twilight Sad's Fat Cat debut LP, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, telling me: "I really like this record, but the lead singer's voice reminds me an awful lot of Groundskeeper Willie."
"Nonsense," I scoffed (because when I scoff, it always involves the words nonsense or balderdash). "I can get over it. I love some Scottish bands. Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Franz Ferdinand, Beta Band...etc."
"They're from North Kilt Town."
Then I heard it. Lo and behold, Twilight Sad lead singer, James Graham, is the sonic spitting image of a red-bearded, crystal slop bucket-yearning, janitor at Springfield Elementary. Maybe even crossed with Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery Celebrity Jeopardy impersonation.
There's nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman
After a listen or two, I was able to get past Graham's Glasgowegian accent and once I did, all was well. They reminded me of U2, Snow Patrol and Coldplay, if I actually liked U2, Snow Patrol and Coldplay. Massive anthemic rock capable of getting vaguely emo at times (No Chris Carababababa).
Live, the band's charms become readily apparent, as they hit the stage and ignited into billowing waves of sound crashing hard onto the half-empty, Knitting Factory in Hollywood. Clutching the microphone tightly, Graham is gifted vocalist, one who intuitively understands the right time to shift his voice from a smooth croon to a bombastic, over-the top yell. Picture, an early Bono, stripped of pretense, histrionics and those stupid sunglasses.
Behind him, the band wails with the drummer smacking sharp, militaristic drum hits. A blisteringly two guitar attack joins him, filling the air with ethereal distortion-heavy noise, a gargantuan wall of sound delivering almost atonal noise, before regaining control, surging into an almost funky groove. The set was short. A 35 minute warm-up for headliners, Aereogramme. Nonetheless, it was clear that The Twilight Sad are a group with a real shot at greatness. As Groundskeeper Willie once declared: "the kilt was only for day-to-day wear. In battle we donned a full-length gown covered in sequins. The idea was to blind the opponent with luxury!"
Buy Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters from Fat Cat here.
MP3: The Twilight Sad-"Cold Days From the Birdhouse"
MP3: The Twilight Sad-"Walking for Two Hours"
Marathon Packs also has another MP3 and an outstanding write-up of the record.