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Photos / Live Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Zaza, Deleted Scenes, Secret Mountains @ the Talking Head (2009.05.05)

All photos: Shantel Mitchell

All words: Greg Szeto

Secret Mountains started off a bit unsteady, but really grew into a precious and nicely textured bit folk pop; in particular, lead-singer Kelly Laughlin’s vocals grew really warm and full (despite having a nasty cough between songs).  I’ll be on the look-out for their future work.

DC’s Deleted Scenes’ much-ballyhooed debut, Birdseed Shirt, didn’t really leave a lasting impression on me, or Alexa.  But as I suspected, things really opened up for their sound live, where I got the full sense of their grand range and the broad textures used in their sound.  In particular, the track “Ithaca” that I felt languished on the album, really expanded live into an appropriately grand gesture that swept you away.  I really got a better sense of their refined arrangements, and the myriad small touches that make them much greater and more diverse than the average guitar-bass-synths-drums rock outfit.  Add in their excellent stage energy, and I was duly impressed.

Deleted Scenes perform “Ithaca,” Live @ the Talking Head

Zaza cut the lights and seduced me like no other group on the bill.  The slinky bass grooves were motivating, and played well with the crushing weight of guitar.  A mere three-piece, they made effective use of loops, effects and a drum machine to amplify their sound to epic proportions, sounding more like an army than any 3 people should have a right to.  While their theatrics and music may have felt a bit over the top at times, their meticulous attention to atmospherics and every seeming detail of performance right down to the sultry, swaying bassist completely absorbed you in their performance.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart were almost exactly what I expected: good kids having a good time playing good tunes.  Their perfectly-pop compositions rang true, sugar-y and bouncey, hitting all the right nerves.  For all their shoegaze-y aspirations, I thought they were a bit timid and reserved, especially in contrast to the preceding lusciousness that was Zaza, and their precious and affected vocals turned just a bit too much out-of-tune, but overall, a respectable and satisfying set.

Thanks to Shawn Breen for catching the audio, and the band for being so kind as to grant us permission to post it.  You can find excerpts from the set here.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

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