Annuals @ Glass House, 4/25/07
Annuals, a six piece out of Raleigh, are up to, well, something tonight at the Glass House. I say “something” not derisively, but because I can’t quite put my finger on their thing and I’m not even convinced they know what their something is, but it is a special something and they are only too glad to share it with us and we are lucky to have it.
You see, there is a lot going on in these songs. A lot. There are two drummers sometimes, and this may be a physical necessity to provide a sturdy foundation for these big, big songs. At times, even two drummers aren’t enough, and main man Adam has to break out his own set of sticks and find something to bang on to help and try to keep the whole thing from toppling over. Or help topple it over. I’m not sure which.
They put everything they can muster together, sometimes all at once, and then try to make sense of it all right in front of you. One feels the restlessness, the searching in the music, in very the changes and progressions. Maybe this way, then this way, then this, OK, back this way. There are heaps of warm and fuzzy noise coming from synths and guitars that, in the wrong hands–let’s face it, in the hands of most bands today–might overwhelming the tunes, but they seem to have a preternatural sense about the craft of song that belies their youth and they hold it back when it gets too close to the edge. Sometimes the chaos boils over and simmers into background noises and samples that fill the spaces between songs like Moog crickets.
The calm at the center of the Annuals’ storm is Anna, the lone lady of the gang, who gracefully mans her Korg keyboard like a ship captain calmly maneuvering through rough waters. Naturally she’s the lightening rod of attention of a group that is five-sixth dudes but she wears it well and has no diva affections.
Their musical references are in there but are not so obvious at first. There’s a bit of the contemporary Canadian collective big sound in there (don’t make me say that one band’s name) but I’m also hearing some Mercury Rev, Beach Boys and even a bit of country and folk. The analog and the digital are nicely balanced and the lyrics are just weird enough to be interesting.
So this something is something. Watching the Annuals now, we are like visitors to a proud, exhausted mother showing off her 12 lb. newborn. Wow. This Annuals baby is a handful already and going to be a holy terror as it grows up, just you watch and see.