The Album Leaf display different styles at the ‘dise

A review of The Album Leaf at the Paradise Rock Club on April 30, 2010

, Staff Writer

Jimmy LaVelle has been steadily expanding the lineup of The Album Leaf ever since 2001’s One Day I’ll Be On Time, and the band that rolled through Boston’s Paradise Rock Club last Friday was ten-strong when all was said and done. Having recently released A Chorus Of Storytellers to widespread acclaim (many are saying it is the ensemble’s finest album yet), LaVelle and his band have taken their show on the road for an extensive tour. A set that prominently featured new material, as well as the group’s old stand-bys, the Album Leaf’s set showed a clear progression of style as time has gone on; a good primer on the band’s steady musical evolution.

The first half of the show more or less consisted of the first half of Storytellers, and immediately their evolved sound made itself very clear to the audience: the slow pace of their older recordings have been largely replaced with fat basslines (as in “Within Dreams”). “Stand Still” piled rich, vibrant strings over a splashing and sharp drum pattern, and really exemplified the major difference in the Album Leaf’s sound now: whereas before they performed slow, lush arrangements, now those exact arrangements are put on top of a drummer playing a pattern in double-time. It doesn’t really sound too dissimilar from other post-rock acts like Explosions In The Sky or Mogwai, though the Album Leaf craft very specific and unique harmonies that immediately distinguish them from the others. One unfortunate aspect of the show was simply how difficult it was to hear the string quartet behind the rest of the band. Even the trumpet player, who was visibly straining to play loudly, could hardly be heard over the rest of the band’s din, especially as it reverberated around the venue.

The crowd was definitely enjoying the showcase of new material, and to my surprise there was even some dancing when the band would reach the peak of a song. This momentum didn’t carry throughout the whole set, however. Right around the halfway point, the band slowed things down pretty drastically, reaching back and playing tunes like “The Outer Banks”, which floated along slowly with much less of a beat to grasp onto. It was also at this point that the audience began to thin out a bit. Really, though, the second half of the band’s set is more quintessentially Album Leaf than what preceded it, and it was endearing to suddenly be in a much more intimate concert experience with a contingent of serious fans. Dancing subsided, and a lot more closed-eyed swaying took place. “Shine” moves almost glacially, hardly changing at all, and had the crowd completely in its grips. The set closed out with “Wherever I Go”, which brought things up a bit, getting our feet off the floor one more time.

Although their new album has been lauded up and down, it’s nice to see the Album Leaf stay true to all of the music that led to A Chorus Of Storytellers. This is a band that is very comfortable with themselves up on the stage, and which clearly loves the music they produce. The musicality on display was top-notch, and it was heartening to be able to enjoy a show with particularly loving fans, once the old material started to make its way in.

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