sadly not quite miraculous

The recent album ‘Five Roses’ by Miracle Fortress has crept into my heart kind of without me noticing.  It is romantic, dreamy stuff with a heavy Brian Wilson influence, and I love melody and harmony, so it was probably a foregone conclusion that I was going to love this.  A last.fm friend called this ‘music to fall in love to’, and I would have to agree with that (in theory at any rate).  Apparently it is mainly the creation of one guy, a red-headed arty clever clogs from Canada (if they’re not from Canada, they’re from Brooklyn at the moment it would seem), Graham Van something or other.  Anyway, he has gathered a band around him for the purposes of touring and they have become a four piece. 

First things first, the live performance totally failed to capture the magic of the album.  Instead of being carried away on waves of harmony, transcending everyday cares to enter a dreamworld of aural bliss (see, I could write for the NME!), I remained resolutely in Kilburn in a slightly miffed mood.  The sound was ALL WRONG.  Subtle harmonies were omitted or done half-heartedly and the really lovely electronic sounds present on the album were drowned out by a disconcertingly unbeautiful guitar noise.  One of the new band members was the female bassist who also did duty on vocals.  On the album, the sound is achieved through layering and looping Graham’s voice, and sadly her non-descript vocal just wasn’t up to the task.  I thought they would have been better off using technology to add loops of vocals and stuff (i dunno how, what am I, a technogeek? – but Panda Bear does it apparently so it must be possible).  That bassist really got on my nerves actually – she reminded me of the woman from Arcade Fire – all ‘i am a child-woman spirit that roams wild and free, see how i walk barefoot on the grass and pick the flowers in the morning dew’ ish.  They all kept playing different percussion instruments too, another reminder of Arcade Fire.  Nothing against Arcade Fire (well, nothing I’m going into in this post), but I had never picked up their influence in the album before and it was unwelcome live. 

Another (final) criticism is that they seemed just a wee bit shambolic – there were times when I really wasn’t sure whether the music was going anywhere or whether they’d just forgotten what came next.   I don’t mind bands being all over the place if it adds a feeling of excitement to the proceedings, if they make you feel you might be about to witness something amazing, but I just thought Miracle Fortress could do with practicing more.  It may be that their live act improves over time, I hope so.  Happily, I listened to the album when I got home and it sounded as wonderful as ever.  Highly recommended for romantic souls. 

Oh, and I might have liked their performance more if I had been in a better mood 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryJVQcG3tXg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z94V2phbWKY&feature=related

 

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5 Responses to “sadly not quite miraculous”

  1. Ant Says:

    Yes, it failed.

    Blame the goddam hippies!

  2. mairimcintosh Says:

    i am just going to cut and paste the youtube links in future instead of this embedding malarkey.

  3. jkneale Says:

    Hmm. You were also disappointed by Yeasayer for the same kinds of reasons. Has being in a band ruined your appreciation of live music however? I hope not…

  4. mairimcintosh Says:

    Different reasons – I thought Yeasayer nailed the harmonies! But there is a common thread of them creating very heavily ‘produced’ studio albums that are then difficult to recreate live. Yeasayer did a better job than Miracle Fortress. I don’t think I’m more critical than previously – I saw The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart recently at the Buffalo Bar and thought they were fantastic! (opposite problem with them though – great live, weak on record…) Anyway, I’ve got a few gigs coming up in the next couple of weeks – hopefully I shall be blown away!

  5. mairimcintosh Says:

    on re-reading this blog, i feel really guilty for being so horrible about the women bassist/singer. she wasn’t so bad. i really was in a foul mood that night.

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