JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD and AN HORSE at the Pike Room

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 29, 2008
doors at 8PM
tickets: $8 (buy tickets)

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You may remember JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD from the Black Keys' Attack & Release, where she harmonized with Dan Auerbach on "Things Ain't Like They Used to Be". The singer/songwriter has been working with Auerbach for two years on her debut, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, a collection of bootgazer country tunes about young love and deep scars. She kicks off that album's opener, "Kiss Me Again", with a flooring admission: "You got me where you want, but I ain't all there." Ironically, she inhabits the song fully, singing in a self-possessed voice colored by a Rust Belt drawl and a quiver of painful hesitation. As Auerbach's guitar plays a mournful sort of two-step, she lets loose a chorus of ah-ah-ah-ahhh's that sound like the start of a sentence she can't speak. So she switches from first person to second: "You can touch me again if you wanna, I don't care." It's not a request, just permission, but even so, she makes it sound like there are real stakes here. Mayfield maybe withdrawn from whoever is kissing her, but she allows no distance between her and her listener. She wants us close. "More and more people are discovering heartfelt music, with real people singing about real experiences," says Jessica Lea Mayfield. Jessica Lea Mayfield's sound is a little country, a little indie-rock and a whole lot of undefinable. With AN HORSE: Brisbane, Australia's An Horse recall the heyday of girl-fronted indie-guitar-rock bands that all to briefly flourished with Hole at the forefront. Cooper’s songs are sturdy, ringing and consistently tuneful, recalling many of the era’s shining lights without aping anyone’s particular quirks: hear Belly’s dense melodic atmosphere without any of Tanya Donnely’s fragile eccentricity, Liz Phair’s instinctive way around an elemental pop hook without her trademark wry deadpan, Veruca Salt’s knack for crafting super-sized choruses (to which the bounding, inexorable “Warm Hands” is the heir apparent) without Nina and Louise’s arena-rock snarl. Resolutely, and mercifully, song-focused, An Horse give us the best of both worlds by virtue of being the rare modern pop band that recognizes that gloss is not the same thing as refinement, and the rare indie-guitar band that understands that one-note minimalism an automatic stamp of true artistry. Fresh off of a hopefully profile-boosting tour with the equally deft Tegan and Sara, An Horse have proven themselves to be apromising band well worth watching.

 

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