NOTE: I am renewing my periodic “ON BLAST” series tonight to write about my current obsession, GIVERS, a pop quintet from Lafayette, La. In previous “ON BLAST” installments I wrote about Twin Shadow and Frank Ocean.
GIVERS make me proud to be from Louisiana. It’s a cheesy statement, I know, but it’s true. I feel the same way about the infectious pop outfit that others feel about the New Orleans Saints.
Part of the reason I have such a band crush on GIVERS and their current album, In Light, is because growing up in south Louisiana there were no young indie bands like them. Local music was limited to jazz, blues, Cajun, zydeco and a few so-so pop-rock bands (i.e., Better Than Ezra, Cowboy Mouth).
It’s gratifying then to see GIVERS achieving a succession of firsts in the past weeks — the release of their first album, their first network TV performance, their first music video, etc. In addition, MTV.com has named GIVERS its band of the week.
GIVERS’ first music video, “Up,Up,Up”:
IN LIGHT AMONG MY FAVORITE 2011 ALBUMS
I recently ranked GIVERS’ debut album, In Light, as my No. 5 favorite album so far in 2011.
The 10 tracks here are catchy, bouyant, and stuffed with ideas. I’d be tempted to describe their sound as some type of gumbo if I weren’t from Louisiana. Since I am from the bayou, I find that to be a cliche and I’ll refrain. Instead, GIVERS’ music reminds me of a sonic quilt.
Each song contains four or five parts sewed together to create something greater than its original parts.
There are moments that crop up seemingly out of nowhere on this album … blasts of joy that leave me dumbfounded and giddy. The refrain of “Don’t get stuck in the meantime/No such thing as the meantime” toward the end of “Meantime” is one such example. It forces me to grin.
The dual vocals of Taylor Guarisco and Tif Lamson are compelling whether they’re trading verses or harmonizing on choruses or spicing In Light’s song with vocal effects. Lamson shows herself to be more than capable as the lead vocalist on tracks like “Ripe” and “Atlantic.”
SEEING GIVERS LIVE A MUST
As great as producer Ben Allen did capturing the band’s energy on In Light, you have to see them perform their songs, as much as hear them perform, to get a true feel for just how good they are and how great they can be.
Each member pours their entire being into their on-stage performance. Whether it’s Guarisco and bassist Josh LeBlanc losing their shit while playing their guitars or drummer Kirby Campbell and Lamson ferociously teaming up on percussion or multi-instrumentalist Nick Stephan killing his flute solo on “Atlantic” … every member shines.
The collective experience is uplifting, vibrant, inspiring. For more about the live GIVERS experience read my review of their recent Portland show
It’s worth noting GIVERS will be performing again in Portland in September during MusicFest Northwest. They will also be playing at Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans this October.
A BAND FROM CAJUN COUNTY ON VERGE … KINDA BLOWS ME AWAY
Make no mistake, Lafayette, La., is no Austin or Portland or Brooklyn when it comes to indie scenes. Lafayette is college town with a reputation for partying. Musically, it’s known for Cajun music featuring fiddles and accordians and tales of woe.
Bands with aspirations have to play in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It’s a tough road though because most twentysomethings looking for live music either want to see national acts, be they mainstream or indie, or cover acts.
GIVERS overcame the odds. Somehow that makes me proud.
I mentioned this sense of Louisiana pride to Taylor Guarisco after GIVERS show in Portland. He reacted with the same humility he had shown on stage earlier in the night.
I also mentioned I grew up in a town called Thibodaux. His eyes lit up. He mentioned the names of relatives who lived there and asked if I knew them. I didn’t, but I mentioned I had known Guarisco’s from the town of Morgan City.
It was a surreal moment. Here we were in Portland talking about the bayou. It was an exciting moment. Truth is you don’t have to be from south Louisiana to get excited about GIVERS though.