How does one band youíve barely heard of and another band that havenít been on the radio since 1996, (1998 if youíre feeling generous and will consider ìMy Favourite Gameî a radio song) sell out the Bowery Ballroom? There was a feeling among the crowd last night at the Bowery Ballroom that we were all in on a secret. Somehow we had all found a singer-songwriter who could throw in some jazz, heartsick vocals and earnest lyrics without sounding like Dylan or Jeff Buckley, and a pop band gone country, in the best possible way.
Aqualung has recorded two proper albums, neither of which is available in the US. The albums are gorgeous, but the true charm of Aqualung is the stripped down live performance brothers Matthew and Ben Hales deliver with just a piano and slide guitar. Performing songs ranging from love found (penned for his wife, according to Matthew) and love lost (dedicated to all those in the audience who had ìever had their hearts brokenî until he realized how tragically trite it sounded), Aqualung might just be the most precious music youíve ever heard.
The Cardigansí latest album, Long Gone Before Daylight, has earned them an Album of the Year at the Swedish Grammy Awards, but wonít be released in the US until later this month. At one point in the show, singer Nina Persson warned that the next song was a lullaby, but the same could be said for many of the bandsí current songs. No longer the sugar-pop group that brought ìLovefoolî to Top 40 radio the Cardigans have become an sort of Appalachian-country band churning out the kind of songs Sheryl Crow might sing if she joined Sparklehorse. Which, in case you were wondering, is a good thing.