Music In Review: Parade of Lights, Sia, My Brothers And I

To keep it simple: This is the part of the program that calls for recounting and sharing a few of the recent musical memorables.

Parade of Lights @ Bootleg Theater 1/28/16

There’s this thing that the Los Angeles-based, alternative electro band known as Parade of Lights does. It’s a simple thing but it makes folks get up to get down with them repeatedly as they did at the Bootleg Theater.

We’re fans of the band: that’s a known fact. I thought highly of their debut album, Feeling Electric: that’s a matter of public record. But the translation of those recorded songs into the live arena, matching – if not exceeding – their recorded energy, precision and sense of buoyancy is the thing. Over the years Ryan Daly (fox, guitar), Anthony Improgo (drums), Michelle Ashley (keyboard, vox) and Randy Schulte (bass) have honed their synthy sound into tight packages of uplift and anthem: danceable, grooveable and propulsive with hooks and melodies to spare and solid songwriting. All of those elements were on display and made for a Thursday night that was worth staying up late for…as was hearing Daly and Schulte noting the fact that their song “Silver and Gold” tends to be the impetus for joints lighting up during a show. Well, there’s something unique to put on the old resumé. Are they on tour? They sure are and have got the swank tour bus to prove it.

Sia: This Is Acting

Release Date: January 29, 2016

Being the multi-tasking, musical workhorse who often writes better and more intuitive songs for other artists than they write for themselves, Sia Furler isn’t one to let a good song go to waste even if their intended artists didn’t want them. By now you know that This Is Acting is just that: Sia slipping into the skin and portraying the characters she lyrically scripted for: the likes of Adele and Rihanna and Beyonce and…have fun with guessing what song was written for whom! Where 1000 Forms of Fear was Sia beautifully and bravely flaying herself and her demons, …Acting is two steps off to the left of center and that’s fine. Maybe the party girl/Caribbean bump of “Cheap Thrills” was a little too on the nose for Rihanna and perhaps Adele just wasn’t able to make room for “Alive” or “Bird Set Free” and their respective survivor “Hear me roar, goddammit!,” but Sia performs “their” songs more than serviceably, flexing her signature acid jazz elocution, vocal tone and texture (from guttural siren to gospel songbird) where and when necessary for maximum effect. I swear, the pre-chorus “I neeeed you! I neeeed you!” in “House On Fire” just screams Katy Perry. Now while the Kanye co-penned “Reaper” feels about a bridge short, the bodacious sexual bravado and “thong tha-thong thong thong” peppered through “Sweet Design” make the dance floor banger even more jarringly playful than any song literally about one’s ass has any business being. By the time she wraps it up by exhaling over the time warp of “Space Between,” you’re reminded of just how masterful Sia truly is when even her discards are stronger than most people’s originals.

My Brothers And I

Release Date: September 18, 2015

I don’t have the hard drive space nor the actual desire to download every. single. album. or EP that winds up in my inbox. While I believe my musical taste to be fairly broad (except where modern R&B is concerned because that shit’s truly horrible), there are things that aren’t suited to my ears. Either it’s simply not my thing or it’s just plain bad, which there is a lot of. I downloaded My Brothers And I’s debut album, Don’t Dream Alone last week. Yep, I’m into the Portland, Oregon family and friends band made up of brothers David (vox), Erik (bass/vox), and Scott Wurgler (drums) along with childhood mates Jordan Roach (guitar) and Johnny Iliyn (keys/vox). It’s all heartful warmth and the stuff of dreams blossoming (within and without) carried by shoulder moving grooves and the sturdy but graceful soulfulness of David’s vocals. It’s indie soul with pop-like finesse and sweet harmony and there’s power in My Brothers And I and their desire to connect with the listener: these guys are joyfully, but deeply, going for it (the handclaps in “Granted” and that chorus in “Nowhere To Run”…yes, please). As Exhibit A, I’m just going to leave this video right here, tell you that they’re currently on tour and hope that you’re fortunate enough to get your groove on with My Brothers And I live this year.