By Gabriel Assouline
I had 2 shows lined up last week: Broken Bells – the collaborative project between The Shins’ singer James Mercer and super producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley). Two nights later, I was to a see a local band – The Franklin Electric – that I knew little about, aside from their radio single “This is How I let you down”. Of course I fully intended to write a post about Broken Bells and how great the show and their new album is. But my plans changed after Thursday night. Instead I am writing about the $12 show at Sala Rosa that my girlfriend dragged me to & how 2 local bands blew me away. The show was part of the “Under the Snow” festival and featured 3 live acts including Heirloom and the headliners The Franklin Electric
Everything about Heirloom is typically atypical. The band or ensemble, is comprised of 6 Musicians including a violinist, cellist & upright bassist. Visually, the band looked like they were plucked out of a Wes Anderson flick, sonically they sound like the soundtrack to the next Coen Brothers movie – and that’s obviously a good thing. Heirloom’s show takes you in instantly and transports you to their sophisticated yet humble world of Classical, Folksy, Bluegrassy, Celtic, Indie Hipster perfection. Despite all these adjectives, you’d be hard pressed to find anything cliche in Heirloom’s compositions. Their album Makeweight is filed with complex yet catchy songs beautifully orchestrated with impeccable vocals by Lisa Malachowsky.
Needless to say I highly recommend following this band and catching their next show. While the CD is good, the show is great. It was a pleasure to see this band in its early stages. If Heirloom continues touring and putting out quality material as they have done, they will no longer refer to the 220 seat capacity Sala Rossa as “the freakin Bell Center for us”.
THE FRANKLIN ELECTRIC
The act with top billing, The Franklin Electric already have a hit under their belt with “this is how I let you Down” from their album of the same name. This band too took control of the stage and audience within seconds of its performance. While different in look and feel than Heirloom, The Franklin Electric are also accomplished musicians injecting violin, trumpet and upright bass into their music. Their stage show was ideal for the intimate setting which allowed the lead singer to crack jokes, talk about his childhood and even sing Flamenco style while his back up vocalist, Katie McNally kept the mood light with her witty remarks. The band as a whole seems to have great chemistry and put on a memorable show that no doubt will translate perfectly in larger settings.
The name of this blog is Antonym of Hype. Its purpose is precisely to share music of quality devoid of hype and flash. The Franklin Electric and Heirloom match this criteria perfectly. What stands out from the two is their musicianship, artistry and how they sound even better live than on record.
You heard it hear first!