Sunday, August 26, 2012

Le Fleur and Helvetia @ Neurolux (8/23/12)

It occurred to me that, while I've written about Dark Swallows a couple of times over the past few months, I don't think I've written about its precursor of sorts, Le Fleur, since Treefort.  Last Thursday's show at Neurolux gave me the opportunity to correct that wrong and to check out a Portland band unknown to me.

Because I took a friend out for an impromptu birthday dinner, I wound up making it down to Neurolux later than I'd planned.  Luckily, I arrived near the beginning of Le Fleur's set.  I counted about thirty people at that point, and the crowd would build to about fifty if not more as the night progressed.  Maybe everybody just wanted to cut loose some before classes started up again at BSU.

Le Fleur opened and gave the best performance that I've seen by them yet.  Seeing Dark Swallows so recently enabled me to compare and contrast these two groups' respective sounds.  While Ivy Meissner's somber vocals serve as just one thread in Dark Swallows' weave of echoey voices and guitars, Le Fleur's more spartan sound makes them the centerpiece.  Since Meissner's singing stronger and smarter than ever nowadays, however, she can bear the exposure.  Her bandmates aren't exactly slouching either: their glinting guitars, screeking synth textures and dynamic drumming never sounded so locked-in and focused.

After Le Fleur came the Portland-based group Helvetia, whose tuneful, ominous, shoegaze-tinged rock went down very smoothly.  Too smoothly, perhaps--their high, pensive vocals and polite drones and dirges threatened to make my eyelids sag, howling guitar solos notwithstanding.  The touches of psychedelic hard rock in those solos as well as the organ-like synthesizer parts, supple basslines and tough drumming made me think of Atomic Mama on downers.  This music may be a little too placid for everyday use (in my case, at least), but it'd probably sound great late at night when your mind starts playing tricks on you.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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