Friday, October 10, 2008

Quick hitters:: Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter Gentleness of Nothing

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Last year, I kind of fell in love with Jesse Sykes and her band of sweet hereafters. I had listened to her records before, and her timeless vocals always impressed me, but it wasn’t until I haphazardly caught her on the Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul tour that her songs really hit home.

I went to interview J Tillman, and after a few glasses of wine in a tiny club I sat down and her voice consumed me and the guitar work of Phil Wandscher certainly bulked up the songs. I ended up seeing Jesse twice more that summer, each time more pleasing than the one before.

The thing is, if I had been sitting in that tiny club in Paris listening to the songs from her new four-track EP - Gentleness of Nothing, I might have sunk into the chair and never got out. Her voice still curls around the space like beautiful plumes of smoke, but the band has moved into a much more psychedelic sound. The opening number, Be it Me, Or Be it None, adds textures and backing vocals that change her haunting, dark, black & white folk sound into a tie-dyed spectrum of shifting shapes. They follow it up with a 9-minute adventure (Gentleness of Nothing (peculiar pleasure)) of sounds, one that finds Phil adding feedback and distortion to rough up some of the edges without losing the intimacy and softness Jesse exudes.

The little bit of muscle really transforms the sound and is a terrific step for a band that was already firing on all cylinders. The melodies are still there, In the Summertime warms your heart with a catchy riff that compliments Jesse’s voice for the first minute and a half, but it’s the drums and guitar that really make this song work. If this is the direction they are moving, I'll be honest, four songs just isn’t enough.

Posted at 8:38 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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