Here’s a clip of effervescent California popsters the Submarines with a slab of sonic sunshine, “Swimming Pool”,  as taken from their 2008 Honeysuckle Weeks album.  I saw this band only yesterday.  And I now have a crush on lead singer Blake Hazard.  Too bad for me she’s married to guitarist John Dragonetti.

I found this band not through the usual channel – which is the iPhone commercial that featured their earlier sing “You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie” – but rather through a fellow Vancouver blogger Miss604, who posted that they were playing the very well-hidden, although extremely cool,  Biltmore Cabaret.  Upon hearing the clips here, I resolved two things:

  1. To go to the show
  2. To go to other shows more regularly, as put on by mostly niche bands who haven’t gained the traction it takes to stop playing little clubs, which therefore means you’re standing a few feet from them as opposed to watching them on a Jumbotron.

The performance of the Submarines was preceded by two other bands of merit.  First, the Mumblers who are from Seattle.  They are a kind of shoe-gazing Old-style R&B band, with a full-on brass section made up up trumpets, a euphonium, a french horn, a sax, and an English horn, all swapped between three guys.  Their material is a sort of early 60s R&B, with a bit of New Orleans trad, as filtered through an indie guitar group.  Did you get that?

The second band was the very good The Morning Benders, led by an impossibly skinny and bowl-cut rocking frontman of some considerable vocal skill and stage charisma.  The band delivered a number of British Invasion references that make me think that there are more bands than the Shins trying to corner the market on this kind of sound.  Live, these guys were dynamic, with an attack which was a bit more feral than that of their album, Talking Through Tin Cans which has pop charms of its own .

But, the headliners The Submarines were the apex of the program, a full-on guitar-pop extravaganza as led by a duo and their dutiful drummer manservant.  Their show was an excercise in pop craftsmanship, bubbly-stage banter from Hazard, and an economical use of technology – guitars, loops, and even some one-handed mallet percussion – that made more from less.  Blake Hazard’s impressions of Vancouver centred around our friendliness as a city, noting that even the ‘fuck you’ graffiti on the wall in the bathroom was accompanied by an ‘have it your way’, which she labeled as ‘the Burger King of Fuck Yous’.

Still, the band seemed genuinely appreciative of us as an audience, and launched into each number, including this one, with verve, a sense of playfulness, and with incredible, undeniable personality.

To hear more from the Submarines, check out the Submarines MySpace Page.


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