Though fairly disparate musically speaking, it turns out that the bands Twin Shadow and Glasser have quite a few things in common. Both acts are relatively new and rose to prominence this year amid considerable buzz from the blogosphere. Both bands recently put out excellent debut LPs that are likely to pop up on more than a few year-end lists. And both groups are largely known as solo recording projects helmed by lone auteurs. And yet, at a sold out gig at the Black Cat’s Backstage on Monday night, both Twin Shadow and Glasser attempted to recast themselves as proper bands, employing live ensembles and seeking out bigger, fuller sounds.
“When I think of Twin Shadow I don’t think of myself, I think of these people behind me,” George Lewis, Jr. said midway through a set that was by turns bouncy, wistful and slinky. Thanks to a three-piece backing band, Lewis’ songs felt more muscular and propulsive live, with even the icily detached “Castles in the Snow” finding an unlikely warmth. And while the band’s ’80s-indebted sound leaned heavily on layered synths, it was Lewis’ assuredly rich voice that stole the show, evoking shades of Morrissey, Bowie and even Sting.
Glasser, for their part, skewed far more contemporary, crafting tribal incantations that placed the emphasis on rhythm rather than texture. Male rock critics are often lampooned for making too many Björk comparisons but Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow draws obvious inspiration from the Icelandic legend, letting her full-throated vocals soar atop crystalline electronics and bone-rattling beats. Employing a three-piece band whose instruments were wired into a laptop using a complex MIDI setup, Glasser succeeded at recreating largely electronic music in a manner more befitting of a rock club than a bedroom.