Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Rakes at the Troubadour

While a majority of the Pitchfork devotees were at Spaceland for White Denim and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart show, I opted for UK upstarts The Rakes who are gearing up to support the release of their third album Klang. The Rakes are only playing a select number of dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York to draw attention to their new record.

I was at the Troubadour when The Rakes toured behind their first album Capture/Release and was impressed with their high energy post-punk tinged tunes. I have yet to listen to their new album but was interested to see if The Rakes were still as energetic as I remembered.

Lower Heaven
The dimly lit Troubadour and waves of droning guitars set the mood for Lower Heaven. The band lifted their name from an Echo and The Bunnymen tune and definitely pay homage to the band with their darkly shaded timbres.

Markos Chloka (Vocals/Guitars/Autoharp) had the reverb cranked on his autoharp to echo the chiming guitars of Tommy Danbury's Fender Jazzmaster. Christina Park (Bass) let the songs breathe but walked in and out of the songs with her Rickenbacker bass.

I remembered catching the tail end of their set when they played with the fitting bill of Darker My Love and Black Angels. While their placement on this bill didn't quite match, they intrigued the audience enough to elicit a decent round of applause to close their set.

Fol Chen

Fol Chen would stick out on any bill due to their prism bent melodramatic pop songs. Any band that can cover Mariah Carey's "Emotions" with a straight face and get a skeptical Los Angeles audience to cheer along deserves a closer look.

Seemingly coming out of the corners of small venues like Pehrspace and the Echo Curio, Fol Chen magically were signed to Asthmatic Kitty records and look to break out of the Los Angeles scene. A minimal setup of two keyboards, drums, an occasional bass line, and Samuel Bing's (Vocals/Guitars) electrified acoustic guitar laid the groundwork for their tangled song structures.

Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made is their debut album and was well represented as they unfurled such tunes as "No Wedding Cake" and "Cable TV". Fol Chen will be playing with another buzz band Wavves at the Echo on April 15th.

The Rakes

I don't understand why The Rakes didn't ensnare a larger audience with their first album Capture/Release. It was a fiery batch of twelve songs that were reconstructed to heightened energy levels when played live.

Klang is their third album awaiting US distribution as they are signed to V2 records in the UK. Judging their performance and the response from the enthusiastic packed fans at the Troubadour, I don't think they will have any problems.

"You're In It" had the band running on all cylinders with its toe tapping beat and spider crawling guitars. Alan Donohoe (Vocals) can easily be identified as the focal point of the group with his Energizer bunny stage performance. It also helps that Alan is propelled by some fantastic intoxicating Rickenbacker bass lines courtesy of Jamie Hornsmith.

Matthew Swinnerton (Guitars) used the exact same pedal board to power his cutting Fender Telecaster guitar flurries. Flashbacks for the audience seemed to kick in during "Retreat" as the number of people jumping around seemed to triple. "The Light From Your Mac" was surgically placed after "Terror!" to keep the momentum of the show in perpetual motion.

"22 Grand Job" was played with punk ferocity with Jamie carrying the tune on his bass while Matthew provided the aural decor of the song while Alan frantically flailed around the stage. The Rakes did turn it down for a bit with a slow simmering version of "Binary Love".

Alan had jokingly asked if anybody had downloaded via torrents their latest song "1989" and then proceeded to slag them off for stealing the song. The Rakes would dip back into their second album Ten New Messages to play "The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect". Their encore was absolutely ace with a compelling time bomb ticking version of "Strasbourg". I just hope I don't have to wait three years to see them again.

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