Went to see Carrigan last night at DC9 — they’re in the middle of a 15-date tour that will slingshot them out to Ohio and back.
Although I’ve been friends with these two guys for a long time, I have a complicated relationship with their music, which has occasionally struck me as a facsimile of other admittedly awesome acts.
Guess that’s all in the past, ’cause this performance was fresh and original.
For a two piece, Carrigan sure conjure a lot of sound. Front-fella Zach Martin often moves from guitar to keyboard to mini trap kit to effects pedals to laptop several times within a single song. He’s actually trimmed down his arsenal considerably — In the old days, he’d even play xylophone, a la Tortoise.
Throughout their seven-year history, Carrigan has struggled to find their true sound. In the past, they aped Kid A-era Radiohead, making extensive use of moody guitars and atmospherics. This comparison was only furthered by Martin’s warbly, Thom Yorke-esque tenor. At least they never sounded like Muse, Thank Fucking Christ.
I’m happy to report that Martin is finally coming into his own as a singer, with emotive phrasing that can produce goosebumps.
Carrigan’s arrangements are likewise evolving; compelling detours and sonic flourishes make you forget that most of the songs are built on two-chord progressions. Dynamics really go a long way.
Drummer Ken Johnson‘s propulsive rhythms keep things moving. Without him, it might sound like a dude dicking around with a buncha cool gear. As a timekeeper, Johnson is rock-solid, and may someday end up giving Battles/Tomahawk percussionist John Stanier a run for his money. I just hope they mix up the beats a bit more on their next record, ’cause the krautrock-meets-John Bonham thing is getting a little stale. I mean, it is almost 2008.
I love that Carrigan’s excellent Young Men Never Die has developed a life beyond the disc. The original versions, while terrific, are the result of a good deal of studio fuckery. Onstage, the band relies on chemistry and sheer musicality to put the songs across, with much success.
One thing I noticed is that Carrigan has no trouble winning over new audiences. I must’ve overheard a half-dozen conversations in which awe and/or admiration was expressed.
It was fantastic seeing these guys really nail it, and I’m sure they’ll only continue to do so.
For a taste, visit Carrigan’s MySpace page.
You can purchase their latest record on eMusic and iTunes; the latter also carries their self-titled debut EP.
This is an article I wrote about them a while ago.
And some less-than stellar pics from last night’s show, taken by yours truly: