Powerful Scottish noise-rock
The Twilight Sad
Distinguished by James Graham's heavy Scottish accent, an accordion, and oodles of noise, the Twilight Sad rose from Glasgow, Scotland, in late 2003 with the lineup of Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar, accordion), Craig Orzel (bass), and Mark Devine (drums). After playing a couple of shows in Glasgow that featured extensive pieces of music using an abundance of instruments, they holed up in the studio to write new material. In September 2005, with four new songs in hand, they sent a demo to Fat Cat. The label ended up putting them on the bill of a showcase with the Mutts, Charlottefield, the Rank Deluxe, and Frightened Rabbit.
The Twilight Sad's debut EP was issued in the U.S. in November 2006; the full-length Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters arrived the following April. The 2008 EP Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did featured reworkings of several of the album's songs with simpler, more acoustic arrangements, plus a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last a Long Time." Killed My Parents and Hit the Road, which featured more covers, including songs by the Smiths and Joy Division, among its previously unreleased tracks, also arrived that year. The Twilight Sad continued to tour as they worked on their second album, playing dates in the U.S. with Mogwai as well as appearing in the U.K. Tracks from the album began appearing online in spring 2009, with "Reflection from the Television" premiering on Pitchfork that May; the single "I Became a Prostitute" arrived that August. Forget the Night Ahead, which had a darker, more streamlined approach than the band's earlier work and was co-produced by guitarist McFarlane and the Delgados' Paul Savage, was released in the fall.
7.11.2009 The Twilight Sad @ Bang Bang Club
(Support: Sad Day for Puppets)
The Twilight Sad's set began with a heavy drumbeat, the type that pushes into the chest and builds up anticipation with the reverberation of every pulse. Slowly bringing the microphone to his mouth, James Graham (vocals) commenced his transportation to another world. As soon as the first beats resonated through the small hall, he appeared to go into another world. Eyes rolled to the back of his head, every movement he made was directed to produce the greatest effect on the lyrics he was singing. Flipping between calm harmonies and raging cries, all the attention of the show was really pulled in his direction.
His energy seemed to be escaping with the music; at some more intense moments he fell to a crouch on the stage, only to pull himself over to the drum kit in order to start pounding on the cymbals. When he stood, it was directly on the edge of the stage, as if he were torn between staying with the band and joining the audience. Finally, during the last song he did actually descend from the stage and stand in front of the crowd. However he made no attempt to interact, rather he stood facing the band ignoring everyone behind him.
The reason Graham was able to captivate so much attention was that, despite the fact that the rest of the music was very good, the other musicians barely moved as they played. While guitarist Andy MacFarlane and drummer Mark Devine seemed enraptured and excited by their instruments, Craig Orzel and Martin Docherty (bass and keyboards, respectively) merely gazed expressionlessly into the crowd.
This came as a strong contrast against Graham's hyper-movement and passion as well as against the strength and intensity of the sounds they were producing. In any regard, no matter how the musicians present themselves, the true testament of the evening is always the music, and in this case it was a great success. The band expertly weaved between soft melodies and strong explosions of sound, at times backing off and leaving the front stage to Graham's vocals, at others overpowering him with a torrent of noise.
The melodies, harmony, and noise all ebbed and flowed as waves, steadily towing the audience through the journey of the evening's set. Despite the natural power of their latest album (Forget the Night Ahead, 2009), the presentation of these songs in a live situation was far more potent and commanding. The combination of the eruption of sound and the captivating performance of Graham truly expanded the music, certainly making the Twilight Sad a live band not to miss.
Written by Brit-Maren Schjeide
Photos by Lucas Kromm
Reflection of the television
I became a prostitute
Cold Days from the Birdhouse