Antony & the Johnsons and CocoRosie - Oh My Rockness

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Antony & the Johnsons and CocoRosie

September 29, 2005
Antony and his Johnsons and the sisters Rosie are two of the unlikeliest indie acts to "make it big" (relatively speaking). With his warbled vibrato often arcing towards flamboyant falsetto, and his enigmatic artist status, one wonders if Antony is more suited for the MoMA rather than the stage. Yet his arresting act brings them out in droves. He recently garnered himself UK's prestigious Mercury Music Prize, and his album, I Am A Bird Now, is certainly Secretly Canadian's biggest success. Likewise, CocoRosie is anything but your typical Touch & Go act. These two sisters choose opera-rock over math-rock, a genre not necessarily sweeping the nation. Yet they too sell out shows in virtually every town they tour. Seriously, what is going on? Is there some sort of indie rock revolution taking place? If there is, let me know, and I'll TiVo it.

Antony is the somewhat androgynous leader of this seven-piece NYC band that counts Boy George, Lou Reed, and Rufus Wainwright as fans and Devendra Banhart as friend and inspiration. Antony's warbled falsetto is unique in the same kind of way as Bro. Danielson's -- once you hear it, you'll never forget it (for better or for worse). You can just hear the pain and melancholy in every syllable sung. And an eclectic accompaniment of strings, pianos, flutes and horns document the dramatic hardship and heartbreak. Antony and the Johnsons is equal parts band and art project. There's just way too much going on under the surface to simply think of them in musical terms. This is a comment on the state of humanity. Love it or hate it, Antony is certainly one of the leaders of something new.

The only time I saw duo CocoRosie was at Southpaw in Brooklyn, when they opened for TV on the Radio. What's strange is back then, they were practically booed off the stage. Near the end of their set one of the Casady sisters said "Do we have time for one more?" and the audience, in unison, shouted "No!!!" Judging from their track record since then, it appears this band is an acquired taste. Coco Rosie certainly won't appeal to everyone, especially if you're not into operatic vibrato. But these siblings have their share of fans. Sounding like a cross between Billie Holiday, Bjork and Joanna Newsom, Coco Rosie's music is full of Parisian-inspired vocals, delicate acoustic guitars, and fractured beats. If you like songs with birds chirping in the background, these soulful ladies are for you.

So I suggest you go to this show and tell me what you think. Because I'm not really sure...are these two acts the future of indie rock, or a flash in the overcrowded band pan? You can be the better judge.

Antony & the Johnsons, plus CocoRosie, play Park West, Tuesday, October 4th.


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