Great Lake Swimmers + A Hawk and a Hacksaw + Haley Bonar + Daniel Martin Moore
Mercury Lounge; Sat 10
Mon Jan 5 2009
Photo: Trinh Kim Diep
Houston Street plays host to four diverse folk-rock acts, with Toronto’s Tony Dekker, who records under the moniker Great Lake Swimmers, topping the bill. Across three forlorn albums, Dekker’s bare-bones songs have played out like an afterword to a watery schlep across Erie or Ontario: He’s empty and downtrodden from the journey, but wiser for the hardship. An early spin of his March release, Lost Channels, reveals familiar patterns amplified by a forceful backing band.
A Hawk and a Hacksaw isn’t as fierce as its Hamlet-inspired name implies, but percussionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost’s devotion to East European roots music is unrivaled in Western pop. Beirut and DeVotchKa, take note: Barnes, formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel, and Trost live in Budapest, and made their last album with Hungary’s brass-heavy Hun Hangr Ensemble.Haley Bonar’s minimalism recalls Dekker’s sparseness. Big Star, her latest, flaunts irony in its title: She’s not going to sell millions of records with intimate soul-baring, but seems fine with that. As for Daniel Martin Moore, he sent an unsolicited demo to Seattle’s Sub Pop Records and, against all odds, they signed him. The Kentuckian’s Stray Age is mature and reserved. As with the rest of these acts, the spotlight is an afterthought.