Shearwater and Cross Record at Terminal West in Atlanta, 12/13/16
What a year it’s been for Austin’s Shearwater. With their eighth studio album, Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop Records), the band is getting noticed more than ever. Coming off a successful European tour and now back to the states, critical acclaim and a fast-growing fan base has catapulted Shearwater to the forefront of the indie music scene. Obvious fans of David Bowie, the band covered his entire Lodger album with the AV Club in early 2016.
Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg was energetic and full of joy as the band offered up a terrific set of songs mainly from Jet Plane, but sprinkled with gems like the excellent “You As You Were” from 2012’s Animal Joy. The first single off the new release is the Cold War-inspired “Quiet Americans,” which looks and sounds a bit like the eighties, and was a touch prophetic as months later millions of Americans stayed home on election day. The entire album, in fact, has been called a protest record. Which makes sense if you listen closely.
Jet Plane has such an eighties feel that as “Filaments” kicks in, you may be reminded of the Police’s “When the World is Running Down…” But Shearwater is most definitely not an eighties band. They are Meiburg’s unique conception of an amalgam of different genres, shaped by his very own creative mind. Filling out the band are Lucas Oswald (keys, guitar, backing vocals), Emily Lee (keys, backing vocals), Sadie Powers (bass) and Josh Halpern (drums). All five members raise the bar on musicianship. This is a tight band and sound terrific live.
“Radio Silence” is anything but, with a mountainous build-up and soaring vocals (“In disarray! Disarray-ee-ay!”). Meiburg’s voice is strong and smooth, complementing the music (or is it the other way around?). The encore paid homage to Bowie with fresh versions of “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” and “Look Back In Anger.” Keep your eyes and ears open for the next tour, Shearwater is finally becoming a household name.
Fellow Austinites Cross Record put on an amazing performance. Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski play with a self-described genre of “doomage,” which is slightly misleading because a fan may argue that the sound is more beautiful and uplifting. Their new album, Wabi-Sabi (Ba Da Bing!), is definitely worth a listen.