Monday, May 25, 2009
With a new band room recently opened and a better PA and lighting system there is now no competition from trams and chatting locals as there was the last time Jessica Says chose to cast her quiet magic here. This also marked the second of four residency shows for Denim Owl.
With the audience scattered in chairs around small tables and the crimson curtains backing the band, in three-piece form tonight, there is a seamless transition from soundcheck to performance, just a mumbled ‘hi’ and into All The Boys one of several highlights from Jessica Says’ still dairy fresh debut album We Need To Talk. Each song is like a ghost sent out into the darkened room. The audience is hushed, the band seem to shy away from the microphones, playing for themselves and the warm sounds of brushed drums, delicate violin and warm lulling Rhodes-like piano disarms ingeniously. Part of you does wonder why singer/songwriter Jess Venebles leaves the bedroom she seems so shy onstage. A deep surging tide of tenacity and sharpened talent pushes these songs into the light, and makes you very glad she does. We Don’t Falter glows royally as does new song Jocelyn. The musicianship of (stickless drummer) Jamie Power and Nick Venebles’ guitar, violin and vocals is so sensitive it almost feels like intrusion to watch them flesh out these songs. Golden.
Amidst a flurry of whirrs, samples, loops, bleeps and sporadic drumming a set of cracking tunes emerge, which simultaneously causes the population of the room to increase tenfold. With Denim Owl (aka Janita Foley) and Aleks (of the Ramps) expanding on many songs from her just-finished-today EP The Dream Pocket (the first release from exciting new label Special Award) and a beguiling new song A Little Fright, it’s a set hard to resist. Quite different from that of her usual guise as a Ramp, there is an emphasis on melodic riffs, mellifluous vocals with often daft but poignant lyrics and primitive drumming courtesy of Aleks. The Swim Team is a soporific delight, Fantasy Dog Sled With A Man’s Head is even better than the title and closing song A Little Fright is magnificent. Possibly even better than the music is the impromptu banter and inspired heckling from opening act Extreme Wheeze. Dynamite.