A Sunny Day in Glasgow at the Crocodile, Seattle | 12 July 2014
A Sunny Day In Glasgow are not from any single place as the band’s six members are split between Philadelphia, New York and Sydney, but funny enough not Glasgow. They are also a very different band than the one that made Scribble Mural Comic Journal back in 2007. Ben Daniels is the only surviving member of that first album. Daniels is the band leader and writes most of the songs. His band’s fourth album Sea When Absent still sounds like a Sunny Day In Glasgow, but it is also is quite different.
Every good band evolves of course, and A Sunny Day in Glasgow have progressed from being an airy shoegaze band whose songs sometime floated by without anyone taking notice to a pop band with shoegaze roots with songs that capture your attention. Previously the vocals mostly consisted of a lot of sighing, but that has been drastically changed. Singers Anne Fredrickson and Jen Goma with their strong, passionate vocals power the band and are its focal point.
The Crocodile’s back bar was full for this early show on one of the sunniest and hottest days of the year. For the opening band Oh! Pears the garage door was up, keeping the place relatively cool. Unfortunately they pulled the door closed before the start of A Sunny Day In Glasgow causing the mercury to rise in the packed room (the pizza oven in the back didn’t help either). No matter, the band incorporated tribal rhythms, washes of guitars, subdued electronics and earnest and soulful vocals to send breezy waves of pleasure out into the room nearly making forget the beads of sweat.
The biggest change and best thing about the current incarnation of a Sunny Day in Glasgow is how they have rethought the vocals in their music. They still like a lot of guitars but Fredrickson and Goma both have strong voices and their performances last night made me think that this band could take shoegaze beyond the niche genre that it is. One of my nieces who likes stuff like Aaliyah, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé often laughs at some of the music I listen to saying that they sigh instead of sing. Sunny Day in Glasgow aren’t sighing any more. They are making big pop songs that threaten to break into the mainstream.
Still Corners, Ganglians and Witch Gardens at the Sunset Tavern, Seattle | 1 November 2011
The record that got Still Corners noticed was their Don’t Fall In Love 7-inch on the Great Pop Supplement from last year. It was stark, icy and sounded like it came from a band wise beyond its years. Singer Tessa Murray had a haunting voice that sounded like Julie Cruise and the band sounded like they existed on a diet of Broadcast, Ennio Morricone and Peter Thomas. That record got bought up as fast as they were snatched up by Sub Pop after its release. Fast forward a year and Still Corners have released their first album Creatures of an Hour on Sub Pop and are in the United States for their first big tour.
The band ably replicated the rich sound of their studio creations at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard Tuesday night. Tessa Murray spent part of her time behind a small keyboard and the rest to the side with just a microphone. Guitarist, main songwriter and sound architect Greg Hughes was off to her right coaxing all kinds of ethereal sounds from his guitar and effects pedals. The highlights of their set were the afore mentioned Don’t Fall In Love and Cuckoo which was another 7-inch single. Both of those songs generate a haunting cacophony that hits just the right nerve in me to generate a wave of euphoria. During those two songs it was as close to as good as Broadcast were when I saw them for the Noise Made By People tour. Broadcast kept it going for their entire show, Still Corners still have a little ways to go. They played a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s I’m On Fire which was ok, but didn’t seem to quite fit and then played a couple other songs without any drums that veered too close to Cowboy Junkies territory for my taste.
Neither of those two things were showstoppers. Murray is easy on the eyes and commands attention. The band were addept and excelled at making the most of their somewhat quiet songs. Hopefully this is the Still Corners laying the groundwork for a run of impressive future records and shows. They’re off to a good start for this only being their first album.
I thought I like openers the Ganglians, but like Brian Eno thinking about his laundry when he was on stage with Roxy Music, I found myself thinking during their set about how I need to insulate my attic before winter arrives. I also waxed nostalgic about the Alarm. When I was a kid use to hate how they always were dismissed as a lesser U2. I also did some math, calculating that by the 2060’s the Ganglians would be in their 70’s, the 1960’s would be a hundred years in the past and would people still remember what hippies look like in the future.
Seattle’s Witch Gardens played a short set with limited commentary from guitarist Casey Catherwood. It had been a few months since I last saw them, but time has been kind. They still posses ramshackle K-like qualities, but they seemed like they knew what they were doing this time, in a vague sort of way.