written by Chris Familton
The ease with which anyone can attempt to record guitars, synths and drum machines and then send the results into the world via the internet has enabled bedroom geniuses to emerge and find niche markets that may or may not translate into wider success. Two such acts were on display at OAF.
Oliver Tank had a huge 2011 with a trip to Iceland, remixes and general love from the local music scene. On stage he showed he can translate those songs into a viable format that blurs the line between man and machine and gives the audience a sense of a performance rather than just a guy pressing buttons. Tank undeniably has a strong voice that can swing between soul, r&b and pop styles and whenever he dug deep and invested some real emotion into the delivery you sensed that there is much better stuff still to come, that he is still in the process of refining his style. There was a recurring theme of dreams that populated his lyrics and repetition of lines and phrases which showed he either favours simplicity or is also still figuring out what he wants to say in his songs.
Youth Lagoon (aka Trevor Powers) is one step ahead of Tank in that he has released his debut album Year of Hibernation and has a much stronger and self assured stage show. With an impressive guitarist fleshing out his songs Powers focused on keyboards, his vocals and some minimal electronics. He used them effectively to add accents to rhythms and melodies but ultimately they were there to support his keyboards and voice. On record Youth Lagoon has that lo-fi tinge and washes of hazy reverb that work to give it all a rather nostalgic feel. Live the songs are stripped back to their key elements and as a result the songs sound even better. Powers wouldn’t be out of place alongside Ben Kweller and Ben Lee in terms of creating excellent, melody rich and slightly askew pop music. This was a short set but it felt like the perfect length and an ideal accompaniment to and alternative view of the album. It was an introduction to the real Youth Lagoon that left many feeling like they want to get to know him better.
this review was first published in The Drum Media