Thursday, March 26, 2009

Camera Obscura @ Mercury Lounge

Camera Obscura; Anni Rossi; Shelley Green
@ Mercury Lounge
New York, NY - March 25, 2009

Though now armed with key lime pies from the Bell House and peacock feathers for "the laydehs" in the crowd ("where's another laydeh?" Traceyanne cooed when there appeared to be an excess of dudes up front), Camera Obscura's second NYC night of trying out the new material was pretty much the same as first: solid and swell. They have that rare touch of sounding both vintage and immediate, a quality seemingly possessed by many bands these days but rarely defined with such precision and depth. There is nothing gimmicky or schlocky going on here, a road that the band could so easily take. In fact, it takes a lot to NOT become a gimmick, and every day that Camera Obscura exists as an authentic, pure, artistic endeavor of substance and merit, is a little victory.

So last night, I lamented that Laura Cantrell was, though fine, a little out of her element. The same could and should have been said about Anni Rossi and Shelley Green. But either because I was in a darker mood, or because of the nature of their particular sounds, both openers were fine primers for the main event. Rossi is particularly compelling - she masterfully plays the viola while singing a range of slow to mid-tempo affairs, backed by percussion. Did she really cover Ace of Base? Shelley Green is a young acoustic country folkie, needing only a guitar and her exceptionally well-tuned voice to deliver some haunting little dirges before finishing off with a handy Daniel Johnston cover.

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