In all our years of watching Piney Gir live, she and her band have never failed to produce spectacle. Tonight is no different; we enjoy watching 9 people (10, when Katrin joins on backing vocals) cram onto the Lexington stage in choreographed chaos, promoting Piney’s sixth album mR hYDE’S wILD rIDE and creating a sweet sense of bonhomie in the room. Piney’s the charm radiator at the centre of the stage, orchestrating the live mayhem in the same way that Garo sets the musical pace, as she take us through the kaleidoscopic whirl of styles that make up the record: from the familiar indie and folk touches to the experimental glitsch-pop, even a flash of guitars in metal overdrive; the style might be that of the wide-eyed ingénue fresh from Kansas to the big city, but the directing pop brain is fiendishly complex, playfully twisting language into clever combinations and forming strange but lovely combinations from the music.
“Art of like a badge of honour”, she sings, and she wears it with pride, moving from the insidiously direct pop of ‘Gold Rules’ to the thoughtful ‘Universe’ and showing off her perfect pitch on the gorgeous, almost unaccompanied ‘Purple Heart’. And although tonight is the launch of the new record but she also finds time to include the sublime ‘Oh Lies’. She indulges her supernatural fascinations with ‘Ugly Bones’ and admits to being Gothic but not a goth; as a polite Midwestener she wishes no offence to goths but points out that she likes colours too much (as if tonight’s ensemble didn’t show that). At the end, everyone leaves with a smile on their face, not just because Piney knows how to throw a party but because this quirky, rare talent has just confirmed that she can still write tunes that make you feel better than at the start of your day.
There’s a brief sighting of a melodica but Catenary Wires is mostly just Amelia and Rob and an acoustic guitar, full of twisted takes on love songs seared by the heat of bitter experience. Coming across strongly like Magnetic Fields, their carefully crafted songs are minimal in approach but full of metaphors and emotion. Playing the whole of Red Red Skies amid the odd nerdy mathematics observation, ‘Intravenous’ is doubt-struck indiepop par excellence while ‘Throw Another Love Song On the Fire’ has echoes of Lee Hazlewood and Suzi-Jane Hokum in its acoustic disappointment. It’s another great reinvention for the coolest economist since Yanis Varoufakis.
Seeing Cosines on stage, including former members of the Loves, A Smile And A Ribbon, Arthur and Martha and Brother Francisco, you think: none more indie. Thoughts of twee are banished though when you hear them: first it’s the mesmeric Krautrock rhythm, then it’s a New Order indie-dance pounder, and later a blast of Stereolabby pop. Each song is full of kinetic energy but it’s Alice’s lacerating, take-no-shit vocals and raptor-ish stage presence that make this so memorable. Or it would be if they toned down the between-song indie banter a little.