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The Ross Who Knew Too Much

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Don't look directly in her eyes, for she may hypnotize you and steal your soul

Friday night at the Quest's Ascot Room was all about expressionless, and slightly frightening, female keyboard players.

I met up with Rachael and Huey to catch the Shout Out Louds and the Dears.

Like a lot of fellow Swedish bands, the Shout Out Louds play enthusiastic pop music that sounds like they've spent years perfecting in relative isolation (because, you know, Sweden is cold and remote and all that). The lead singer Adam (no last names for these ones) sounds a bit like the Cure's Robert Smith at his frothiest. Those who wanted to, but just couldn't, get into the new Weezer and Hot Hot Heat albums might just dig the Shout Out Louds.

Bebban, by the way, is the Shout Out Louds' keyboard player. She cast a frosty Nico-like shadow over the group that -- if nothing else -- broke up the monotony of watching yet another pack of shaggy-haired, skinny boys clutching guitars.

As it turns out, she was only a warm-up for the two ladies in the Dears, who played keyboards, sang backup vocals and even contributed the occasional flute. There's an older photo of the pair here. I may need to check my facts on this one, but I think the woman on the left is actually a (sad and lonely) robot sent from the planet Prog Rock. The other one, meanwhile, had her some "high eyes" -- ones that leaned more toward the Manson family than Cheech and Chong. She was scary.

How was the music? Well, the Dears' "No Cities Left" was one of my favorite albums of 2004, and the band pulled off the disc's sometimes tricky arrangements without breaking a sweat. The main attraction, though, was lead singer Murray Lightburn, whose voice is an amazing instrument fully capable of navigating its way from a whisper to a scream. When Lightburn led the band through the dark lullaby "Pinned Together, Falling Apart," he tore through the "no no no no no" chorus as if those were the last words that would ever come out of his mouth. Seriously, I felt like I was going to faint. Powerful stuff, indeed.


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