Monday, November 30, 2009

Turning Left on Red

When I read these girls' band bio, I saw that their name comes from the term Left on Red, to go your own way. In the true Fleetwood Mac fashion, that's just what these girls do, and every note they play is pure and new, two of my favorite adjectives.
Composed simply of the dynamic duo of Liah Alonso (lead vocals and guitar) and Kelly Halloran (vocals, violin, guitar, and drums), Left on Red bursts out of New York City with a brand new sound from the acoustic rock genre. Now I'm not ashamed in anyway to parade the fact that I'm a Dixie Chicks fan (and I became a bigger one after the whole Bush controversy lol), and to finally find a group that can meld the Chicks' melodies with Bikini Kill's highly feminist and aware lyrics just makes me beam. LOR released their debut self-titled album at the beginning of '09, and I can't believe these girls aren't opening arenas already. They play everyday in the New York subways, and if I walked by them playing I'd be late for everything because I'd have to stop and listen until they finished their set. After all, what's better than a free show from some amazing performers?
But back to important stuff, not my fantasy musings. I start the set-list with "Shop," an interesting, more pop-inspired song that differs very much from the rest of the set-list. Whereas many of the songs are purely acoustic, this one seems to retain an R&B flavor, and it's something that makes this song unique. The funny thing, at least to me, is that based on the title, and the lyrical content, LOR seems to be making fun of the Barbie girls who this song would actually apply to. There is nothing better than some subtle humor to weed out the people who are actually listening to your lyrics from the ones who aren't. The irnoy, beyond the song lyrics themselves, is that this song doesn't seem to apply to these girls. They're not decked out in Prada and Goochi (those are the "in" styles now, right?). They wear simple jackets and jeans (check them out on Youtube). Musically, this is a solid song, and one I'd listen to just for the lyrics, even without the great beat.
Track two is easily my favorite. "Jack and Jill" is a brilliant acoustic ballad with insightful lyrics and an incredible melody. Alonso's vocals are phenomenal here, and Halloran's harmonies scream Dixie Chicks influence, even if it is unintended. With Alonso's lightly plucked strings laying down the initial melody and rhythm, Halloran adds on more with her violin, and this song is easily as good as the Dixie Chicks' ballad "Landslide." With a rhythmic bridge that deviates from the initial rhythm, and an easy interlude riff by Alonso, Halloran's violin and harmonies make this the must-hear song of the album. Five stars easy.
I'm similarly impressed with the next track, "Shine." Also a more intense and passionate song, Alonso's simple notes provide a melody that meshes so well with her and Halloran's voices that it sounds like a whole chorus is on this track. Halloran, too, particularly shines here, pardon the pun lol. Her violin is prominent and strong, her notes resonating with the vocals in the air from herself and Alondo. If these girls play this in the subway, I have no idea how anyone could possibly focus on what they have to do that day. And then the rhythm slowly begins to pick up as Alonso pushes her voice to the limit. Behind, Halloran takes off on an incredible, heart-shattering violin solo, and there is only one word for this song: brilliant. I can't say anymore than that.
The last song I listen to is "High Heel Blues," a tongue-in-cheek, clever song that makes use of a traditional blues rhythm. With Halloran's solid violin notes ringing out right alongside Alonso's guitar, Left on Red finishes their set-list on a strong note. Alonso performs a particularly moving vocal harmony accompanied by Halloran, and this was the perfect song to finish up with. As Halloran sails me out on her faster-than-fire violin notes, it dawns on my that these girls are one of New York's great, yet-to-be-discovered bands. And don't worry, they will be. It's just a matter of when and how.

Sounds Like: Dixie Chicks, The Wreckers, Meg and Dia, Tegan and Sara

Key Tracks from Left on Red: "Jack and Jill," "Shine," "High Heel Blues," "Shop"

Check at Left on Red more at: and

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