I had the chance to see the Album Leaf perform in November 2004 when they were opening for Pinback. I remember being aurally assaulted (in the good way) and, to my joy, found out later that (a) they had toured with Sigur Ros, had (b) thus became BFFs with the Icelandic kings, and (c) had a little someone named James LaValle behind the project.
Fast forward to this summer, and finally my chance of seeing them passed my way. We entered Cafe du Nord with a giddy attitude, the swanky former speak-easy a perfect atmosphere for our show. And, despite the fact the mixers were having problems and the show was delayed by 45 minutes, it was well worth the wait.
Though I knew we wouldn't be able to see the stage from our standing positions - the stage is ridiculously low at that venue - it ended up panning out perfectly as the Southern California group took the show. A large component in the Album Leaf's live performances is their light and projection show - the imagery of space, time, science, inverted landscape, strobes, and words bended from the stage all the way to the ceiling halfway into the crowd. I really wanted to grab some blankets and lay down, all the while spooning with my boyfriend.
Much of the crowd was familiar with their official debut album through Sub Pop, In A Safe Place, cheering loudly for "The Outerbanks," downtempo electronica piano and drum beat at its best, and "Eastern Glow," made famous by the infamous The O.C.. However, the Album Leaf's set featured music from the soon-to-be released new disc Into The Blue (September 2006), like "Shine" and "Red-Eye." A change of a soft turntable scratching in addition to more vocals only further enhanced my love for this band. With ethereal guitar strumming, pop-infused drum lines, and more distortion than I could shake a stick at, each Album Leaf song is an experience to behold and truly, honestly be mesmerized by. Close your eyes, remember, reminisce, and then open to the sights of the band's slide show. If DJ Shadow and Sigur Ros could have a love child that sported black-wire frames, and hugged everyone, it would be named the Album Leaf.
According to their website, the band will be tour more extensively once Into The Blue is released. For the love of all that is holy, go.
By Jenn Hernandez