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July 27, 2011

Video/Album Review: Givers ‘In Light’ & Tiny Desk Concert

by @thoughtontracks

Full confession, I am a fairly recent convert to the indie music scene. I have always been a music junkie, but I didn’t delve deep into this genre until about a year and a half ago. I was spoon fed on sixties folk rock and classic soul: Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Motown and The Staples Singers. Not a shabby start.

By the time I began to listen for myself I had moved toward the jammier side of the post 90s rock scene.  That path led to retracing their influences down through funk, blues, southern roots and traditional music. Along that path I developed a strong appreciation for jazz and improvisation—particularly that of the New Orleans region.

For the last year or two, my palate has enjoyed the taste of rigid, three-minute music that The Strokes helped to spawn a decade ago. There is a beauty that lies in that simplicity and raw emotion. So long as an organic aspect remains in there somewhere, a  natural or primal sound, I’m typically a listener. One thing I have missed though, is that aspect of improvisation, an interplay between planned and unplanned.

Enter Laffayette, Louisiana’s Givers, and their debut LP In Light from Glassnote Records. No songs under four minutes. I find myself returning to this album as often as any 2011 release. Though I find the disc a touch over-produced, read—it sounds too good at certain points. Any worries of whether or not Givers would hold up to the live litmus test swiftly vanished after viewing their recent Tiny Desk Concert via NPR Music:

In Light is pure fun. As evidenced in the above video, these kids can sing. Vocalists Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco compliment each other flawlessly. “Meantime,” the first track from the Tiny Desk performance plays quite differently on the album. Their song features a guitar solo that will have traditional indie fans yawning. But the video proves how effective the track becomes after watching them pour their hearts out for the NPR staff.

Givers has drawn comparisons to Vampire Weekend and other Afrobeat-influenced acts. And the release is much heavier on percussion and powerful drums than this performance indicates. However, if anyone comes to mind for me, it’s actually Rusted Root. A tighter, more serious and worlds more talented Rusted Root.

Their live show is most assuredly going to have the crowd’s feet shuffling. If this video does not do justice to any of the band’s strengths, it’s that it short sells the fact that much of the album would play just as well in a dance club as a jam band festival. That’s why I think Givers will be a hit for as long as they stay together. They play to the core emotion of too many differing audiences to fail.

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