When I left for college, my sister entered High School - a key time for anyone's musical growth. I came home one weekend, we were cruising around and she put on Lite FM. LITE FM. It was tragic. The two CDs I gave her in an attempt to pull her out of Billy Joel hell and meet on a middle ground were Brendan Benson's Lapalco and Aqualung's self titled '02 release. I normally have a very low tolerance for the singer-songwriter genre, but something about those two records came through the stigma of the genre based on how fucking great the songs were.
Last night at Bowery Ballroom was a Brit singer-songwriter invasion. The first time I heard David Ford was on the 4.04.06 TBA (Chicago) Podcast, but the first time I investigated him was on the following TBA (Chicago) Podcast when I heard the track "State of the Union." Seeing that song live was amazing, check out the lovely Erin Chandler's review for the run-down. Aqualung took the stage with a 3-piece band and played a bunch of new songs amid the familiar tracks re-worked from his earlier releases. Part of what makes Aqualung so charming is his between-song banter, which he refrained from in the first half of his set. Reworked and re-muscled songs "Falling Out of Love," "Strange and Beautiful" and "Good Times Gonna Come," reminded me why I love Aqualung, the songs are just beautiful.
After the Brits at Bowery, I jetted over to Pianos to see the first of three nights of the Cold War Kids. They opened for Two Gallants last week at Bowery and owned the room. I didn't know how the vocals from the three EPs of theirs that I'd been digging would translate live, but it's pretty fucking amazing. When attempting to describe Cold War Kids, I've been going the route of Ryan Adams/The Walkmen meets the abandon of a high school band, which I don't mean in any condescending way. Cold War Kids have the lack of inhibition and willingness to play with time signatures, instrumentation and each other on stage that I haven't seen in a band in...I don't know how long. The songs are great, pretty much every tune from the Up in Rags EP that they've been selling at their shows is a hit. From the bass driven groove of "Hang Me Up to Dry," to the piano-based chugger "We Used to Vacation," the old blues-chain gang vibe of "Saint John" to the undeniable catchiness of "Hospital Beds," this band has songs and live stage presence to deliver them. They play two more nights at Pianos, do yourself a favor and head down to check them out.