Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Album Leaf - (P)review

I first heard about this San Diego-based, Nu-Gazing group due to my obsession with Icelandic quartet, Sigur Rós. Formed by mastermind Jimmy LaValle, The Album Leaf was asked to open for Sigur Rós by the band's lead singer, Jónsi, during their 2002 U.S. tour. This was pivotal to the definition and direction of The Album Leaf's sound, as they seemed to adopt Sigur Rós' stratified, delicate song structures and to veer away from the rocky-shoegazing tendencies that had carried over from LaValle's previous band, Tristeza. The Album Leaf creates textured, evolving, largely instrumental songs that selectively incorporate ambient electronica, unifolk, string arrangements and synthesized melodies.  

I first saw The Album Leaf live when they were touring North America for their In a Safe Place album. They played at Vancouver's tiny Media Club in April of 2005 and I was impressed with a) how tight the band was, b) the visuals by band member Andrew Pates, and c) how well LaValle's laptop loops and synth usage blended with the instrumentals. Unfortunately, some of the songs from this album were so accessible, mellow and well-crafted that they were used in The O.C. and a Hummer commercial. When my sister told me that she had heard the track On Your Way played on The O.C. I literally puked in my mouth (just a little). It was almost as bad as when I pooped myself (quite a lot) upon unexpectedly hearing Sigur Rós in the film Vanilla Sky. The likes of Jónsi and LaValle should never - ever - be linked to the artless vapidity of Tom Cruise and Mischa Barton.

Since 2005, The Album Leaf have continued to tour and work closely with Sigur Rós. They even created an original score for FW Murnau's 1927 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

Go see them at the Rickshaw on February 7, 2010. They are at their Mischa Barton in 2006.

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