You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Espers @ The Bell House, 12/5/09

For a band based in Philly, an NYC visit by Espers is tragically rare, which explains why their show at The Bell House last night was so well-attended. Singer/guitarist Greg Weeks is an unapologetic, all-out hippie, complete with fringed buckskin belt-bag, moccasins, round glasses and bell-bottom trousers. The lightning rod of the band is singer Meg Baird (her first solo record, 2007's Dear Companion, would be a shoo-in if I was making a "Best of the Oughts" list, which I'm SO not). Her voice is instantly recognizable on every record she makes, and even though people like to compare it to Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny, she doesn't really sound like either of them. It's just that her style of singing doesn't have much of a context that current audiences can relate to. Which is sort of why it's great.

Much of Espers, in fact, is rooted in past styles that may or may not ever be relevant again. Their earlier recordings were more acoustic based and more or categorizable as freak-folk or freak-folk adjacent, but they've expanded. Their October release, Espers III, incorporates as much electric as it does acoustic (not to mention precise work from Vetiver drummer Otto Hauser) and achieves a kind of late-sixties psych-pop feel, reminsicent of Fairport Convention or even Fleetwood Mac. It's the type of music that you never really hear anymore, ever. It's too bad, too, because a couple of songs they played last night, like Tomorrow from 2005's The Weed Tree, "Children of Stone" from Espers II or "Caroline" from III, I could actually see being radio hits at a very, very specific point in musical time.

Mp3 - Espers - Caroline

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