If you're going to close out a great five-night run of shows, you might as well go out with a great show. Last night, the last night, The Album Leaf did not disappoint.
Quick and hopefully not too boring story: I don't know how I discovered The Album Leaf. Somehow, at some time, I downloaded a copy of The Album Leaf's fifth studio album, 2010's A Chorus of Storytellers. I have no idea why or when I downloaded it or who recommended it to me, but as I stumbled across the album in my library of hundreds of gigs of MP3s, it stood out and I became fascinated by the band's sound. It fell into heavy rotation on my car stereo - healing music for late-night cruising up and down the streets of Atlanta. No one else I know had heard of them, although everyone seemed to like them.
Anyhow, flash forward to the summer of 2016, and imagine how delighted I was to see that they were going to be playing at Terminal West last night.
First, though, we had a set by California's Rituals of Mine, formerly known as Sister Crayon.
Rituals of Mine play a very emotive, gothy electro-pop with heavy hip-hop influences. The band consists of vocalist Terra Lopez and synth-pad percussionist Dani Fernandez, along with veteran metal drummer Adam Pierce. When the music worked, it worked great, but too often Pierce overpowered the band, and Lopez, who seemed to enjoy being enveloped in Pierce's wall of sound, was lost to the audience. Whatever rhapsody she was finding among the pounding bass drums was purely solipsistic and not something in which the audience was allowed to share. When Pierce gave her some room to breathe, though, she stood out and provided a glimpse of what the band's new lineup could sound like under the band's new name.
The Album Leaf's stage set was as beautiful as anything I've seen apart from a Purity Ring set, with gauzey fabric draped over the stage to create several layers of screen for projected lights to bounce from. While it made the whole stage somewhat dark and moody, it fit the mood of the music perfectly and even functioned as another member of the band. These pictures are not altered or treated or run through any Prisma filters, but are how the band actually appeared.
Breathtaking. And the music was built upon intricate, looped layers of the electric piano, guitar, and synths of frontman and occasional vocalist Jimmy LaValle, the violin of Matthew Resovich, the precise and intricate drumming of David LeBleu, and the bass, trumpet and keyboards of Brad Lee. A glockenspiel occasionally found its way into the mix at the hands of various musicians. The whole thing was mesmerizing in a way similar to past sets we've seen by Hundred Waters, Junip, and Mutual Benefit. And anytime the music got a little too dreamy, the band would snap everyone back awake with a little bit of kickass energy.
The set went long, well over 60 minutes, but I have no complaints because the band had that much to say and kept it always interesting. Their new album, Between Waves, their first in six years, was released this year, and I can't wait to give it as much attention as I gave A Chorus of Storytellers.
And then, that was it. Five straight days of shows after seeing only two shows all summer. Eleven bands in five nights after, like, four bands in two months. And it was good, and we enjoyed it, and while we'd do it all again, tonight we're glad it's finally over and we can finally rest.
And so, to bed.