I hate comparing one band to another. Unless done with the greatest of care, it can be disrespectful to at least one of the parties involved. If you aren’t a writer by nature (like me!) then you can possibly just end up pissing off everybody involved. With that out of the way, when I first heard London Grammar, I thought “This sounds like The xx with an awesome vocalist.” I still think that they borrow heavily from the less-is-more alt-rock/electronic trail that The xx blazed, but they are so much more than a generic rip off.
Less is more, from an instrumental perspective, but more is definitely more vocally. Don’t misunderstand, Dot Major and Dan Rothman are talented musicians. In fact, if they formed an instrumental group, I would go see it in a heartbeat. But Hannah Reid, what can I say? Every note that comes from her mouth screams raw power. It’s amazing to hear, and I suggest that if you have the chance, you listen to it. Monday night at Underground Arts may have just been my favorite moment of 2013. The whole group has taken ground that has been treaded before, and brings a raw poetry to it. There wasn’t a missed note in their performance.
Gliding effortlessly through heavy hitters from their debut album, If You Wait, this utterly charming British trio won me over instantly to the point that I may not be able to listen to their album for a bit just because how well their sound translates to a live environment. Dot Major, a self-professed ‘button pusher’ works seamlessly between the keys, the drum pads and triggered effects, and an actual drum set. Hannah makes the pop stardom-worthy vocals seem effortless and easy, as Dan lays on light, atmospheric guitars. Hits like “Strong” and “Hey Now” take on a new life as the bass and vocals rattle the ear drums. They even breathed new life in to Chris Isaak’s sexually charged classic “Wicked Game.”
Opener Jaymes Grant took his signature electronic sound and gave it some more depth for the live set. Backed by a drummer and a bassist, songs that rely heavily on analogue synths on his EP, Dark Star, became even more dynamic live with crunchy guitars that almost drowned out his achey vocals. “Dark Star” and “Two More Minutes” gain a sense of urgency when the blips and beeps are replaced with hard guitar romps and crashing drum hits. His cover of “What Is Love” turned the eternally goofy SNL joke into a heartbreaking plea for peace. I now desperately hope he launches a full-length very, very soon.