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June 29, 07
V 35 Issue 26

 
 
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Where It's At
The Album Leaf returns to Neumos, Chris Thile plucks at Tractor Tavern
by Albert Rodriguez and Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writers

The Album Leaf w/ opening acts
Tuesday, July 3 - 8pm
Neumos - $12


Spacey, imaginative, slightly weird, melodic, soothing, and near eerie fit the description of music by The Album Leaf. If the name doesn't ring a bell, try combing through episodes of "The OC" and I bet you'll find several cuts by the artist in each of the teen drama's five seasons. The Album Leaf is a one-person solo experiment, an exploration of sounds and compositions by multi-instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle. Often compared to Icelandic adventurists Sigur Ros, perhaps because he collaborated and toured with them, The Album Leaf has carved a cult following amongst sophisticated circles. A simple way to become addicted, if you so choose, to LaValle's brand of electro-ambient recordings is to download the track "Always for You", a gorgeous mid-tempo number from last year's release Into the Blue Again. It's a thinker's song, the kind you play on those afternoons when you need to clear some headspace.

Signed to Sub Pop Records in 2004, The Album Leaf has enjoyed quiet success with the help of college radio stations and independent music media. Not yet a mainstream breakthrough, but not a total unknown either, LaValle is somewhat of a blueprint for pop-electronica startups. Of local interest, aside from being on the Sub Pop roster The Album Leaf also recorded Into the Blue Again at nearby Bear Creek Studio, a renovated barn located just outside city limits.

In concert, The Album Leaf is said to be mesmerizing. Which is why you might consider a Tuesday night chill-out session at Neumos. Expect a mellow, though mind-intense, performance that is sure to draw the cute nerdy crowd (think Adam Brody look-alikes). Two opening acts are scheduled for this show, including Seattle newbies Arthur & Yu, so this means The Album Leaf will probably be onstage between 10 and 11. Support the Gay bars before or after the concert, and if you see me theredaydreaming with my eyes closed - well, that's because I'm clearing some headspace. Tickets are available online at www.neumos.com and at the door. A. Rodriguez

Artist essentials: Watch The Album Leaf's video for "Always for You" on YouTube, and pick up or download his CD Into the Blue Again.

Chris Thile and the How to Grow a Band featuring Bryan Sutton
Thursday, July 7 - 9pm
Tractor Tavern - $20/$23 at the door


I know I keep hammering this into your frankly unreceptive heads, but newgrass - the hip way of saying modern bluegrass - is cool. It's not always fiddles and banjos; sometimes it's fiddles, banjos and mandolins, as in the case of mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek) and his solo vehicle, the How to Grow a Band. If you're a fan of sizzling musicianship, clever lyrics and rocking reels, you'll head over to the Tractor Tavern on Thursday night.

I feel like I'm standing on the Chris Thile soapbox. Yum. This Grammy-winning Sugar Hill recording artist has been performing since he was eight years old. Since he's only 26, that wasn't all that long ago, but in addition to a long and prolific history with his Nickel Creek bandmates Thile has also released five solo projects. He was the BBC's 2007 Folk Musician of the Year, completed a national tour with Nickel creek earlier this spring, and is now touring in support of his 2006 album, How to Grow a Woman From the Ground. He's a busy boy: he recently debuted an ambitious work at Carnegie Hall titled The Blind Leaving the Blind, and in 2008 he plans to release a collaboration album with virtuoso Edgar Meyer.

On tour with Thile and the How to Grow a Band is acoustic bluegrass and country music guitarist Bryan Sutton. Sutton is a first-call Nashville session player, recognizable from his work with Van Morrison and known for his mastery of technique. Other Band members include Gabe Witchel on fiddle, Greg Garrison on bass and Noam Pikelny on banjo. L. Quenzer

Artist essentials: 2006's How to Grow a Woman From the Ground for haunting melodies and exceptional lyrics.

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