[Above: Shapes And Sizes at Cake Shop last year]
What does a good band do in the off-time? I mean, unless you're VAMPIRE WEEKEND and plan on riding the rocket of your own flatulence to fame and fortune, there's got to be a lot of empty time. Case in point: Canada's Shapes And Sizes. After garnering a bit of bloggohype last year for the first single, “Alone/Alive”, off Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner, the band played a tour and did some interviews, hung around a bit, then sort of folded back into that undying land where bands go when we're not thinking about them.
But now on the Asthmatic Kitty website there's talk of a new album, possibly to be recorded in the fall with a release early next year (Nathan, bassist, confirmed this after the show). And Asthmatic Kitty as a whole isn't known for its hype — more like a slow and continuous stream of goodness. So, what's a band do in the meantime? Why not another tour?
But not a real tour, one of those mini-mid-album-tours that no one ever hears about and no one goes to. The scene in any big city is a thing of novelty, it rides on successive waves of hype and any music lovers who don't keep up with the tide end up drowning and get real jobs. So S&Ss ended up started off the tour on Wednesday out in Glasslands to a crowd more confused than congratulatory, and continued last night on the lower floor of the Knitting Factory, the poorly-lit den of obscurity we call the Tap Bar.
I'm sure we've all seen some good bands on their way up and down over at Tap Bar, but it can't be anyone's venue of choice. When I first saw S&Ss they were playing a huge CMJ bill at Irving Plaza, playing along with Architecture In Helsinki, Apples In Stereo and The Blow (who, in my dreams, is still out there dancing, dancing like there's no tommorrow, dancing like there's isn't a mass of cameraphones recording it).
Anyway, let's hope S&Ss is gathering some new fans as they slum it along the countryside. The amazing thing about this band is the dynamic between the members — three out of the four write, two of the three alternate lead vocals, the third often sings harmony. It's an interplay of minds and intentions you only find in big, diverse groups like the Pornographers.
And if anything, Caila Thompson-Hannant's vocals are getting stronger, as she pulled out some unexpected big, bluesy vamps with a few lines from “Time is on my side”. And they are dishing out some fantastic three-part harmonies. From the new songs played last night the next album should prove to be diverse and desultory as the last (which, if anything, was almost too diverse). So if you don't want to wait till next year to hear it, here goes.
18 Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands Gallery w/ The Weird Weeds, The Shivers and Cameron Hull
19 New York, NY – Knitting Factory Tap Room *
20 Montreal – Canada – Zoo Bizarre *
21 Ottawa – Canada – House Show *
21 Wakefield – Canada – Blacksheep Inn *
22 Toronto – Canada – Sneaky Dee's *
25 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
26 Rochester, NY – The Bugjar
27 Hamden, CT – The Space
* w/ Weird Weeds and Alex Lukashevsky