::The Lost Patrol::



Show Reviews - March 17, 2013
Mark Suppanz
The Bitter End & The Loop Lounge
The Big Takeover

Although this greater New York ethereal trio had to cancel their first February show at Brooklyn’s Rock Shop due to Blizzard Nemo, the band “stormed” back (I’ll do anything for a good segue) with these two superb follow-up gigs later in the month. Of the two shows, I slightly preferred the one at Greenwich Village’s 52-year-old Bitter End, due to its über-intimate stage (designed for folk, comedy, and theatrical performances), better acoustics, and more enthusiastic crowd. By contrast, sleepy Passaic mainstay Loop Lounge’s more dimly-lit back room sounded a tad muddy, which, coupled with a few disinterested, chatty patrons near the stage, made it harder to hear singer Mollie Israel’s quieter trilling. (However, I can’t complain about the Loop’s location, only six miles from my apartment!)

Though the band have recorded nine albums since their instrumental days of 1999, their setlist – which didn’t change over the two nights – focused on songs from the three LPs recorded since Israel joined (2008’s Midnight Matinee, 2010’s Dark Matter, and 2011’s Rocket Surgery), with a couple new numbers thrown in. And, as Israel informed us, a few tunes like “Homecoming” and “This Road is Long” have appeared in the movie Vamps and TV’s Gossip Girl – both directed by her Mom Amy Heckerling.

As I discovered when I first saw them a year ago, at Butler, NJ recording studio/music venue Architekt, the band doesn’t use a rhythm section for their live shows, pre-recording all of their music’s intricate drum/percussion and bass parts. Though this approach sacrifices some of the live show’s spontaneity, it also keeps the focus squarely on the group’s dazzling array of atmospheric guitar effects and vocals. And crucially, the band is careful to make sure the backing music always sounds resonant and natural.

Guitarist Stephen Masucci sculpts glistening dreampop that not only evokes ‘80s/90s shoegaze/Britpop/goth, but also blends in spaghetti western/desert soundscapes (“Dead or Alive”), surf/island flavors (“Play with Fire”), ghoulish noir (“Homecoming”), and even ‘60s girl groups (“Before I Go,” the new “Spinning”). His cohort, the lanky, long-haired Michael Williams, further massages those sounds with his 12-string acoustic, gently caressing it as if he were stroking a cat’s back. Both guitarists flank red-haired chanteuse Israel, who slinkily slithers around the stage clad in stylish vintage-period garb, while slyly exchanging devious glances with her bandmates (and her provocative gyrating in a midriff-baring black vest at Bitter End occasionally elicited a few whistles, like on the new blues/metal-ish closer “See You in Hell” — see the video here). Whether she’s unleashing a hair-raising howl on “In Your Blood” or crooning wistfully on “This Road is Long,” Israel’s eye-opening voice never failed to impress, on both nights.





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