Photos by Rachel Keenan and Nicole Browner
Maybe it was Amnesia’s ruby-red glow properly enveloping The Baths’ 60s tinged dark-gaze that did it. Having now seen them on multiple occasions, The Baths’ live set last Thursday validated all the flattering commentary I’d heard in passing; either way, the four-piece owned that space in both sound and sight. The Baths weld several decades of melancholy into one timelessly dreary sound, and reinforced it onstage with fashion choices of velvet blazers and monochrome stripes. The summer looks quite fortuitous for The Baths: they’ve partnered with Ty Segall, first at Bottom of the Hill late July with Grass Widow, and then on to tour the East Coast in August (dates on MySpace). Though the show had a strong opening, the subsequent Ecoli came as a left-field selection for the middle slot. The 80s-style hardcore punk band performed their art form faithfully, as the singer cleared the floor for ranting and rolling (much to Mi Ami’s guitarist’s entertainment).
For their sophomore Thrill Jockey release, Mi Ami truly celebrated the success of Steal Your Face with Amnesia packed like a dedicated sardine can. The album’s single “Latin Lover” behaves as the most dynamic and therefore enjoyable song in their live set — keeping in sync, the way most of Mi Ami’s songs do, to jungle time. Daniel’s effeminate groans turn violent, somehow above the other chaotic rhythms, then exit the song to conclude with what might as well be the symphony of space battle from an 80s video game. And with that kind of experience to offer, Mi Ami will forever have the live show as their gateway for new admirers. It’s too easy be sucked into all three supercharged instruments, colliding against each other as if in a particle accelerator.
Slightly contrary to the live show, however, the compositional decisions behind Steal Your Face suggest that some intensities are better enjoyed in moderation. Listening to the album is a more linear experience than it is chaotic. Thoughtfully arranged, the opener “Harmonics (Genius of Love)” is brash enough to precede the climactic “Latin Lover,” before traveling through well inserted lulls, tempo changes, and stylistic peaks to the album’s superb two closers. Steal Your Face is an EP by definition of its 6-song limit, flushed out with an ambient quality unlike many of the dance-punk masterpieces of the past. Alongside some of the other catalog additions from currently popular roster members (Future Islands, High Places, Javelin), Thrill Jockey has acquired a gem out of San Francisco to add to their jewelry case.
Photos after the jump: