I don’t buy concert DVDs very often.
I’m looking at my shelf now, and I have a grand total of eight concert films on disc. This is not counting Marillion DVDs – I have all of those, but they’re a special case, one of the few bands for whom I am a raving fanboy collector. Most of the time, though, I can do without a concert DVD in my collection, and the ones I do have (even the Marillion ones) are rarely dusted off. If I want to see the band play live, I’ll see them play live, not on my television.
I have to really like and want to support a band to buy a concert DVD. Which is why it should be no surprise that I picked up Live From Studio 6A, Quiet Company’s first video. It documents the band’s performance in the legendary Austin, Texas room for Satellite Sets, broadcast on Austin public television. And let me tell you, they tore it up. I’ve seen the band live, on a much smaller stage, and it’s something to behold. But this is the next best thing.
I’m in serious danger of coming off like a Taylor Muse fanboy, but he’s one of my favorite songwriters right now. While watching Live From Studio 6A, I kept thinking, “I love this song. Oh! This song! I love this one too.” It doesn’t hurt that the show starts off with one of my favorites, the sweet “Our Sun is Always Rising,” from the band’s second album, Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon. But there isn’t a QuietCo song I don’t like in some way. Even the lesser lights here, like “Jezebel,” are killers.
The centerpiece of the disc, naturally, is the three-song set of new tunes from the in-progress third QuietCo record, We Are All Where We Belong. I’d heard both parts of “Preaching to the Choir Invisible” live before, but they’ve gone through some revisions since then – they’re longer, more epic, more dynamic, yet still hummable. They also reach David Bazan levels of spiritual disillusionment: at one point, Muse promises he’ll believe if Jesus speaks just one word to him. The winningly-titled “Set Your Monster Free (My New Year’s Resolution is to Cope With My Morality)” is fantastic, too.
As always, this QuietCo show ends with “On Modern Men,” and the band blows the doors off. It’s worth owning this DVD just for that. In concert, this song is indomitable, rising and peaking and falling back and rising again and exploding all over the stage. If you’ve heard me talking about Quiet Company, and you’re not sure why, watch this. It’ll tell you all you need to know.
Live From Studio 6A is available from the band on their website. The third album is scheduled for a summer release. It is, most definitely, one of my most anticipated records of 2011. Watch for it.
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Another thing I don’t do very often is pay import prices.
This is another relic of a bygone age, one that only collectors of physical CDs like me care about. I know I can just go online and download whatever I want for free, but I’m a big enough fan of the physical product that I spend time tracking hard-to-find discs down. And nothing is more frustrating for me than finding out that a band I love has no plans to release their album in the United States.
It has to be true love for me to pay import prices, which are often twice what I’d pay for a disc here, plus international shipping. Again, Marillion is a band that gets my import money every time – I’ve rarely bought the U.S. versions of their records, even when they do distribute them over here. I’m used to paying more than $20 for a Marillion album. It’s worth it to me.
But often with imports, it’s a question of whether I want to wait for a domestic version, or whether I have to hear the damn thing now. Some bands are on the gimme-it-now list, like Sloan and the Feeling. Some bands, like Starsailor, are on the wait list. This week I’m buying the U.S. release of the new Elbow, Build a Rocket Boys, which I expect to love. But it’s been out in Europe for more than a month, and I haven’t felt the need to import it.
But the Click Five? They’re apparently on my gimme-it-now list.
I found this out because their third album, TCV, has only been released in Malaysia. Seriously. These guys are from Boston, and their own country doesn’t want their stuff. And I can’t figure out why. I get a lot of shit for liking the Click Five and their sugary power-pop, but it hits my sweet spot perfectly, and I can’t imagine I’m alone in this. Delightfully crunchy guitar-pop tunes with killer melodies and a sweetly romantic sensibility? What’s not to love?
Even more frustrating, this may be my favorite Click Five album. TCV is their bid for respectability, but they’ve matured in all the right ways. They’re still goofy and sunny, and they still write prom themes, but the child-like effervescence that got them lumped in with the Jonas Brothers has been nicely darkened up. TCV is a smooth power pop album that zips by, and will have you singing along to every track.
Every track? Every damn track. The first two are, in fact, two of the best songs to bear the band’s name: “The Way It Goes” is a chugging little opener with a squiggly keyboard part and a slow build to a swell chorus, and “I Quit! I Quit! I Quit!” is a little masterpiece, combining a Kinks-ish riff with an almost criminally catchy melody. The lyrics are about kicking one addition to be with another, and they’re littered with little nods: “I’m a wreck, you’re the fix, that’s why I quit…”
I’m not sure the record gets to those heights again, but if there’s a drop-off, it’s very small. “Nobody’s Business” is flat-out fun, as is “Fever For Shakin’,” a tune that reminds me of Sloan. The one song I could do without is “Love Still Goes On,” the big ballad thing, but even that isn’t bad, and it leads into “Don’t Let Me Go,” one of the band’s most understated tunes. This is the Click Five’s second album with singer Kyle Patrick, and he brings a weight to these songs that original singer Eric Dill couldn’t have.
If I have another favorite, it’s “Good as Gold,” perhaps the most “mature” thing here. Over skipping acoustic guitars, Patrick sings a simple lyric about time slipping away: “Make it last, ‘cause this is all we have, a love as good as gold…” Yeah, it’s cheesy. Yeah, it works. This is a world-class pop song, to my ears. I like this band’s sound so much that even the simpler songs they pen, like the stomping closer “Be In Love,” make me smile. But when they hit on something like “Good As Gold,” that smile turns into a full-on love affair with life.
I know I’m going to get shit for this again, but what can I do. I’m a Click Five fan. Even the bonus tracks, the goofball “Black Boots” and the sighing “Just Like My Heart Falls,” do it for me. This is streamlined pop music the way I like it, played by real musicians striving for the best songs they can put together. It’s not life-changing stuff, and it’s not “important.” But it’s fun and well-made, and it puts a big grin on my face.
Near the end of TCV, there’s a ditty called “The World Comes Crawlin’ Back.” Let’s hope this is prophetic. This is a swell power-pop album from a band too many have dismissed. I brought mine in from halfway around the world, and it was worth every penny.
Hear “The Way It Goes” here.
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I think that’s gonna be it for me this week. The election has wiped me out. Next week, though, we get that Old Guy Revue, with Paul Simon, Ray Davies, Robbie Robertson, Bob Geldof and the Smithereens. Leave a comment on my blog at tm3am.blogspot.com. Follow my infrequent twitterings at www.twitter.com/tm3am.
See you in line Tuesday morning.