by Lauren Viera

The Clientele,


Fri Sept 19


The Clientele, London's soft-spoken, '60s style popsters, must have been obsessed with the Velvet Underground in their formative years. However, the perky pace and willowy wash of their instruments makes them more akin to the new breed of sunny Southern California psych-pop (like, say, the Tyde) than other Great Britain twee sluts (like, say, Belle & Sebastian). What have they learned from all this retro redux? A helluva lot, if the band's hazy new album, The Violent Hour (Merge Records), is any testament--it's willowy and woozy and laced with licorice-smooth vocals reverbed to the max. The band has made a comfortable home in Merge's new niche of British (and British Columbian) singer/songwriter-fused mellow pop acts. A far cry from the label's Superchunky days of yore, to be sure, but a welcome growth in Merge's eclectic roster.

Another retro-inspired anti-rocker, Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer, also makes his home on the neo-Merge roster. In recent years, Bejar--whose songs have a kind of Nikki Sudden-covers-Bowie vibe--has graduated from bedroom solo artist to full-fledged frontman. Again, Bejar's smoky three-chord jams might as well have been written 35 years ago. Despite their boyish good looks and Canadian charm (eh?), if you were to close your eyes and listen to Destroyer's music alone, you might mistake them to be: a) British, b) the type of band who might dress in mod suits, or c) complete stoners. They are, I think, none of these, but I mean all three as complements. Last year's This Night, while a bit lengthy (nearly 70 minutes!), is an almost voyeuristic glimpse into Bejar's life. If you're lucky, his set will include the epic "Hey, Snow White," a standout track from This Night that's as ripe a representation of Destroyer as it gets. It's eight minutes long, and will make you wish you were in Ed Sullivan's studio audience the night Tommy James & the Shondells performed their super-doped out version of "Crimson & Clover."