Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Stage Buzz: Beacon, Mr. Gnome, and Catherine Irwin

| December 13, 2012


Beacon‘s “Feeling’s Gone” from the new EP For Now (Ghostly) examines the state of a failed relationship. The hypnotic vocals of Thomas Mullarney (think Sufjan Stevens with a slightly more R&B flare) over a soft bass and electronic elements lull one into a trance early. This relationship is doomed . . . and yet there’s still that irresistible pull (a desire that manifests itself over the course of the song’s last minute where the bass kicks up along with the pace and a yearning female vocal percolates just below the song’s surface). “The feeling’s gone, you waited for too long/But if you just stay the night, we can find some more.” Lyrics matter just as much as the music on For Now and Beacon’s appeal lies in that sense of desperation. The first EP since 2011’s No Body, the Brooklyn duo mine For Now‘s examinations of how love and lust intertwine in preparation for a 2013 debut. (Friday@Co-Prosperity Sphere with How To Dress Well.)

The expectations for a rock duo don’t typically run high. It’s with that in mind that Mr. Gnome (the brainchild of married Cleveland couple Nicole Barille and Sam Meister) crafted an epic, eight-minute video to accompany the song “House Of Circles” from 2011s Madness In Miniature. Following the success of acts like The Black Keys, White Stripes, etc., Mr. Gnome challenges the conventions holding back duos crafting longer songs accompanied by stirring visuals. The clip for “House Of Circles” features the characters from the album’s cover art brought to life in a live-action graphic novel. The album continues that concept by telling its story through contrasting short bursts of distorted punk rock (“We Sing Electric” and “Wolf Girls”) and sparse arrangements relying solely on the sultry, but sweet vocals of Barille and piano of Meister (“Winter”). The disc follows 2009’s Heave Yer Skeleton and builds upon that arty, guitar rock with a louder, better produced, and more immediate sound. (Friday@Beat Kitchen with Soft Speaker.)

— Jim Ryan

Catherine Irwin‘s second solo album, Little Heater (Thrill Jockey), fills the ears of listeners with powerfully raw vocals that you feel in your bones. The relaxed strings create a rural vibe to compliment her emotional and often dark lyrics. Whether she’s being clever (“Dusty Groove”), ironic (“Sinner Saves A Saint”), or on a murderous streak (“The Banks Of The Ohio”), Irwin delivers an amazingly complex catalog of writing. The record features guest turns by Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Tara Jane O’Neil, Marc Orleans, Elizabeth Mitchell, Daniel Littleton, and Jean Cook. They offer up incredible instrumentals and vocals that add to the depth and density of each track. But Irwin’s cackle permeates throughout as the resounding tone. Her reverberating vocals – clearly country, yet unclearly hollowed – combine with deep, haunting harmonies that bend and swoop through an obstacle course of skillful strings, guitars, and banjos for a beautifully organic album. (Friday@The Hideout.)

— Mary Scannell

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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