Thursday, October 29, 2009

What A Drag It Is Getting Old

Straylight Run
Emo's, 10/27

You can tell the members of Straylight Run are serious about being perceived as grown-up musicians. It's the beards! Stripped down to a trio lineup the band are more direct and tougher than their slightly creamy recordings. John Nolan puts his emphasis on delivering his vocals just right and keeps his guitar and piano contributions spare. That lets Will Noon and Shaun Cooper really carry the freight on drums and bass. "I'm Through With the Past" is earnest and obvious in its recorded incarnation; but reduced to vocals, bass power chords, and a lean drumbeat, it moves in an entirely different way.

It's a good thing that the band is interested in using many different sounds on its records, but live they have a bare-essentials approach that both makes the wordy emoting of Nolan's lyrics sound more at home and reveals that the band's promise lies in the basic building blocks. To carry off a song like "The Perfect Ending" solo at the piano as Nolan did to close the evening you have to choose your melodies and chords with precision. They may be missing the main idea at times in the studio, but on stage Straylight Run have all they need to get their message across.

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