AM & Shawn Lee: 22 September 2011 – New York

LA singer/songwriter AM and London-bases producer/multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee began writing together after AM contacted Lee in admiration of his music. A friendship grew over email and soon the two had enough tunes to fill an album called Celestial Eclectic, released earlier this month. It’s full of funky jams and AM’s laid back, lilting falsetto. (AM was born in Tulsa and grew up in New Orleans while Lee is from Wichita, Kansas). Together with drummer Pete McNeal and Brett Bixby on keyboards, they took the stage at Mercury Lounge to present their new songs in live performance. “How’s it going New York?” AM asked, before the band started with the rim shot drums and fuzzed-out guitar chords of “Can’t Figure It Out”. A driving beat and synth-punctuated vocals of “Lonely Life” followed as the pair dug into the music before offering the opening track, “City Boy”.

Between songs AM and Shawn Lee switched instruments and glances of recognition, as the band proceeded to win over the crowd. For the single, “Dark Into Night”, a sing-along was rehearsed beforehand even though it only required a few notes. But this sweet, layered melodic track filled the venue and the audience participation only made things more transcendent. “Turn the wrong into right / Turn the dark into light”. The group hit their stride chugging along with the next song, “Somebody Like You”, before Lee took over the drum kit for “Dillon’s Song”. A radiant cover of “Jackie Blue” fit in perfectly with the retro magic of their compositions. The final song, “The Signal”, allowed for more introspective lyrics, as well as an explosive ending of power chords and drums.

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