Monday, 24 October 2011

Familiar WATERS: Ex-Port O'Brien Front Man Flows Through NYC

Yes yes, I still have days 2 to 5 to report on from the recently completed music marathon that was, is, and will be again, CMJ. 

Alas, unable to face the mammoth task of writing up another 20 odd bands worth of live music - and this was a light year - I thought I'd delve a little deeper into just one of those artists: WATERS.

Before focusing on the act, mention must be made of the venue and promoter. I caught the set as part of a series put on by indie radio station KEXP, at the Ace Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Unlike other makeshift, aspiring (opportunistic?) venues, the focus here was on the experience, rather than crass cross-promotion. 

When KEXP state "where the music matters", it seems to be something they take seriously, as the set-up was professional and the streaming audio of performances a neat addition for the musicians to make the most of their appearance. In the same breath, Ace Hotel provides a grand-yet-cosy environment to watch live music. With plenty of seating and connectivity for reporting journos (and filthy plebeian wannabes such as yours truly), not to mention outstanding coffee from the connecting Stumptown Roasters, it's a pleasant spot to take in some tunes. 

All of which is secondary to the music, which was a particular treat at 10:30am.

At this point, despite a naggingly familiar vocal tone, I was unaware that WATERS front man Van Pierszalowski had previously given voice to the delicate melodies of Port O'Brien. With a semi-frenzied stage presence and tendency to rip at the guitar quite distant from his former band, however, this isn't a connection one would naturally make. 

MP3: WATERS - O Holy Break Of Day 
MP3: WATERS - For The One
Taken from the debut album 'Out In The Light', out now on City Slang

WATERS' sound lies much more in the frayed emoting of indie rockers like Manchester Orchestra. Switching between the raucous attack of 'For The One' and the somber reflection of outstanding closer 'Mickey Mantle', this set is as often energising as it is effecting. In particular, I fell for this timely lyrical couplet: "I was in New York, living / Waiting in the cold of Thanksgiving / Hoping I could have a day to reason". 

Something about the playing and delivery communicates a complete integrity, one that helps the crowd connect ever deeper with the endearingly awkward singer. At one point, he offers an over-the-airwaves apology to his Mum for not calling and being away so often. If this early form is a sign of things to come, he'll be making such laments on a regular basis as WATERS spread to the welcoming ears of new fans around the globe. 

Check out a set of far superior pics from the morning set here on KEXP

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