This New Year has so far gotten off to a slow start for me. With an uneventful New Year's Eve party, work the following day, and the repercussions of a Central Texas Winter (read: Cedar Fever), I've been nothing but a drowsy zombie since 01/01. Add to that the relatively slow schedule of live music during the winter and it usually amounts to boredom, movie rentals, and catching up on reading. All good things in small quantities, but all at once can be more taxing than one can imagine. So it was with great enthusiasm that I decided to take on the task of making the most of this year's "Free Week," down at Emo's.
With a great line-up for much of the dates, the holidays still provide an excellent opportunity to see rising local bands playing to their hometown crowds. Friday would start the weekend off right with a line-up including dance-pop and rock inspired acts, Clap! Clap!, Lord Henry, and The Lemurs. I had seen The Lemurs once before at a launch party here in Austin nearly a month ago and had been impressed, contemplating a review at the time. I decided against it, thinking they might seem too obscure of a band to put out there seemingly out of nowhere. Then, much to my surprise, a couple of days later I see a review of their self-titled, self-released EP pop up on The Tripwire. Genuinely excited for some hometown representation I made plans to catch them as soon as I could.
So now here I was at Emo's outside stage again, finding myself dancing and bouncing and stomping.
The Lemurs are an exciting band to see live, and I think the reasoning behind this is simple - everyone in this band looks like someone you know. I found myself laughing half of the time just because they literally look so familiar. But that's just half of the appeal. They aren't a group of posh Brits, super skinny guys that wear girls' jeans
and Italian boots. They are just that group of guys that live down the street, or work in your office, or took pre-requisite History classes with you. But like I said, that's just half the appeal.
The other half is the fact that these guys are genuinely good musicians, and with influences like The Cure, New Order, The Clash, Talking Heads, Ted Leo, and Kraftwerk (to name a few), they've based their sound on quite a list.
Starting off with Mitch Billeaud's lead, we find an emotional voice that channels everything between Simon Le Bon and Robert Smith, the latter of which runs rampant on "Do What They Like." Standing next to him is by far the most flashy (yet still so understated and casual) of the group, clad in a tie-less suit, lead guitarist Davy Click, who
erupts with such enthusiasm on his reflective steel guitar that you can't help but smile. His pointed melodies chop in-between the steady and concentrated support of Justin Mosley's bass. Danny Reisch does what a good drummer should do - provide time and a solid backbone without getting in the way or cluttering things up. It was his pounding that started your hips moving.
I think out of all of the pieces though, the synth and keys that Sean Conner provide add a certain nuance that, if not present would leave the songs treading water in the territory of just another Franz knock off that's become so popular in the past few years. His added layer of heavy, Krautrock-inspired synth (see crowd favorite "Berlin") not only perpetuates that feeling in your hips but thickens The Lemurs' sound, pushing it up and above many of the now cookie-cutter disco-pop bands out there.
There's just one thing that annoyed me about the set, and that's the outside stage of Emo's they played on. The sound mix there has disappointed me more and more, and leaves my ears deprived of one more frequency. I know Emo's has been around for a while and that it is a prolific venue in Austin, but I'm gonna stick to my guns on this one. It is a testament to a band's talent if they can pull through and sound good on that stage, which The Lemurs did.
After busting through a quick show they took off and I managed to have a word with Sean Conner. Among other things he mentioned that they were pretty excited to be where they're at, and that things are going well for them (unsigned at the moment, but maybe not for long). With a short West Coast tour planned for later this month and a Tripwire show in Chicago, they are looking forward to the future. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the future is looking forward to them as well.