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November 04, 2006

Album Leaf Falls on D.C.


  The Album Leaf @ Mezzanine 
  Originally uploaded by mdoeff.

Following up on my music in November post, I have to write up a little about The Album Leaf concert last night at the Rock n Roll Hotel.

I first head their song, The MP, from a snowboard video (maybe TB7 or TB8) and have had The Album leaf on my radar ever since. I though it was just a single guy, a musician or DJ and his PC making such cool, electronic and layered sounds but it was a four-piece last night.

I tried describing them to people but to no avail. Mellow, electronic, lounge instrumental. I’m a little closer to capturing it now. Imagine Postal Service with little or no vocals, longer songs and more instrumental, with amazing violin mixed in and you close to experiencing The Album Leaf. If you could isolate the components of their overall sound (which is probably impossible because the layers are so intertwined), the violin may have been the best part or the piece that unified the sound.

Rock n Roll Hotel is a small venue, 400 max, so you could get in pretty close and they were definitely some hardcore AL fans there, who know the songs within only a few opening bars. I think the small, intimate nature of the place made it even better; I’m not sure that I would have wanted to see them play a bigger place because the music lends itself to a low-key, almost one-on-one relationship with the audience.

This show was an experience and I imagine that’s the band’s aim as well. It goes beyond the fact that they have these cool motion graphics/videos playing on a screen behind them that adds to the music rather than detracting from the music, which is what usually happens with most music videos (Johnny Cash’s video “Hurt” is another greater example of visuals making the music even richer). The visuals were synched to their music and not crappy stock visuals that anyone might access to via an iMac and screensavers (but I couldn’t tell if it was a PC or Mac running on stage or not).

And no, not every song sounds the same unless if you’re really listening (I overhead this from the guy standing next to me). If you came to the show last night expecting a lot of singing and vocals then you were probably disappointed. The music is an acquired taste and its mellow but if you’re in the right mood, it’s very engaging. The concert wasn’t a performance (like going to see The Brazilian girls for example) in that The Album Leaf aren’t flashy but they deliver a music experience that’s inspiring and completely engrossing..

Watch this video of their single, “Always for You,” to get a sense of what I’m trying to describe. They’re musicians and visual artists too. Or play "Always For You."

 * P.S.- LaToya and I stopped by Majestic Lounge, across the Street from the Rock and Roll Hotel on H St. after the show and mark my words: Majestic is going to D.C’s next hotspot. 

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