Next week is the full cultural eclipse of our mega annual Best of Orlando issue, so TLU will be on break. Brace yourselves for the controversy!
LAETITIA SADIER SOURCE ENSEMBLE AND ACOQUI, WILL'S PUB, AUG. 12
If anyone can be said to have a signature, it's Laetitia Sadier. The ever-sophisticated fingerprint that made Stereolab so singular carries over into her solo work. But unlike the motorik lounge-pop of Stereolab, the measured effervescence of her latest vessel, Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, is less orbital and distinctly earthlier.
It's music that's decidedly left in both sensibility and politics. Atop Sadier's sociopolitical commentary, her band's breezy avant-pop is a wide-ranging international quilt of styles that – like the vocabulary of Stereolab – is brimming with jazz, Latin, vintage futurist keyboards and indie rock. But it's all synthesized without a trace of fusion or revivalism.
Befitting any appearance by her, let alone her only Florida appearance of this tour, a crowd deep with the city's music literati turned out to see a living legend. And that's what they got, one who is still a creative, forward force.
But the sonic thrills really came from Orlando opener Acoqui, the reclusive act that's now light years beyond its origins as a solo ambient outlet for Alberto Hernandez, perhaps best known as one-half of Kanine Records' act Viernes. As asserted by both this incredibly vivid performance and their newly released debut album (the excellent A Heart Fills This Way), their sound is a Cocteau Twins dream on a shoegaze rush, only with more pop concision and punch. Made from all the right stuff, this band is generating songs and textures supreme enough to be one of the most exciting native acts to emerge in a long time.
For a barely active live act, Acoqui has amassed some of the city's most credentialed players, with a collective résumé that includes Summerbirds in the Cellar, the Sh-Booms and Moon Jelly. With an all-star lineup that's now all-local, this band is facing its most solid prospects yet. They've got the goods and they've got the ensemble. If these stars can align, Acoqui could be Orlando's next great band.
EASTER ISLAND, OAK HOUSE, EXPERT TIMING AND SOMEDAY RIVER, WILL'S PUB, AUG. 11
Athens came to Orlando for a night with well-regarded bands Easter Island and Oak House. Easter Island have impressed here before and continue to do so with a lavishly furnished indie-pop sound that's gentle but large. Their music is a thing of sculpture and layer, unfolding like a ride through twilight clouds.
Oak House came with lots of Radiohead comparisons that are not without merit. It's due mainly to their defiance of stylistic convention and singer Gresham Cash's markedly anguished Thom Yorkian ways. But, at least live, they're far less prone to wandering indulgence than the overrated kings of brood rock. Instead, Oak House flex muscle and wire to keep things more pointed and incisive, constantly pushing a nervy edge that will sometimes just give in and burst into a maelstrom that's heady, complex and charged.
Among the local openers was Expert Timing, a trio that's been rising in the ranks over the past year or so. Clear disciples of melodic '90s indie rock, they deal in bright, yearning female-male vocals that ride big, chunky guitars. It all amounts to a substantial simplicity that makes them an immediate charm.
Also opening was Someday River, an indie-pop band previously known as Bellows – the one from Orlando, not Brooklyn. Luckily, their name change several years ago was just the beginning of their journey into their own. They've come an absolutely extraordinary way since their unfocused early days as Bellows, when I ravaged them a bit.
Today, Someday River are a trio capable of a whole lot of sonic depth and atmosphere with a tall, dreamy indie-pop sound. More importantly, their taste has tightened and sharpened notably, shedding much of their more pedestrian tendencies. Like Lord Huron refracted on the rays of the Florida sun, their solidly anthemic sense of song has the ability to make crossover indie rock convincing. Nice to see a homegrown band finally find sure footing.