Sunday, December 09, 2007

Amy Allison gave me the tip on Nicole Atkins when she discovered her via an American Express ad of all things. So far, as far as I'm aware, it hasn't done what ipod did for Feist but if you give "Neptune City" some house room then prepare to be swept out to sea. It's quite an old-fashioned orchestral pop record with some Badalamentiesque overtones in terms of brooding twang. "The Way It Is" is worth the price of entry to this fictional boardwalk wonderland alone.

Turns out that these 10 songs were recorded in Sweden and it certainly has that Scandanavian majesty. Layers of lush, textural arrangements with Atkins great, great voice soaring over the whole shebang. Somebody at Columbia needs to be thinking about getting her on to "Later with Jools Holland" with all the trimmings. Check out this Letterman appearance if you reckon I'm joshing.

"Cool Enough" has a ghostly refrain of The Crying Shames "Please Stay" (see below) about it. The line about "one day I'll feel different" in particular with the backing vocals, recalls that Joe Meek nugget. There's some great sleigh bell fairy dust sprinkled here and there also but be warned, this is a hardy perennial that'll linger way beyond even next Christmas. Much more consistent than Bernard Butler's Duffy project, I hope that Nicole will be bringing these songs to the UK as early in 2008 as the strategy allows.

The Wreckless Wrigby report from Brother D in SF...

"well... lessee... they came on at midnight following first... a guy singing and playing dobro accompanied by a bagpipe player in a kilt (who's headed your way, so look out) and second... a local garage/punk outfit called the flakes. amy and the wreckless one walked in at 11:40pm, tuned up and then began at midnight. started with something about "you can't be a man w/o a beer in your hand" which had the punters hoisting their budweisers.

they took turns with songs but mostly they did eric stuff and the crowd was clearly there to see him. different crowd than amy had across the bay a few years ago. funny how things change... last time they were here (with marti jones), only a handful of people there even knew who eric was. this time they were yelling out his songs all night. (nothing like having your song in a movie!). amy played her gibson j45 acoustic and also what looked like an old solid body harmony eclectric. she also played some keys, most notably some great organ on eric's classic, "reconnez cherie" (always was my fave of his). didn't know she could play so well on keyboard. also didn't know eric was such a good bass player. he played fender bass now and then. but mostly he played his acoustic cutaway. the mix was bad. sound gal (why do all these dives have 20 yr old chicks doing the sound?)

blasted the guitars and you could barely make out amy's vocals. i complained but she said amy wasn't singing close enough to the mic. which was ridiculous. the crowd didn't notice tho cause they were into eric anyway. but amy was having a great time backing him up. and she did belt out a few... "i'm like rasputin" for instance -- that was great. and her songs were very well received. they were both really having a blast. wish eric would've tuned up in between songs now and then. anyways they did one song i wasn't familiar at all with... maybe new... "please be nice to her"... really excellent. they did eric's "semaphore signals" -- another one of my faves of his... and he talked about ian dury starting out as his drummer way back when. i can't remember all the songs... they did amy's "joey ramone" thing and "don't break the heart that needs you". eric did 33's and 45's while amy took a little break. they were having a blast together and kept going on-- finally warned that they only had 10 minutes before 2AM curfew.

they finished up with a sing-along "whole wide world" followed by "take the kash" which literally ended with the sound girl coming over the PA saying, "that's it, we have to close NOW, we love you eddie (sic) but we have to go". and off they went. i gave amy a bunch of guitar strings and told her "for keith" (did you read about that guy on her website?) and she thanked me. wanted to hang out but we had to split as we didn't have our wheels and the bus was coming.

what a night! hope they have as good a time up north. -- don

They could well still be onstage in Portland right now or maybe not even if it runs to the same schedule as SF. However, if you're in Seattle tonight (Sunday) then cancel any other plans and go see them there because it's the final show of this short trip...