It was Dhani Harrison’s birthday, he was actually born on August 1, but July 31, is close enough, and they brought him a cake with candles in the middle of his set at Amoeba on Tuesday night. It was adorable but thenewno2 was actually celebrating another thing beside Dhani’s birthday, the release of their second studio album 'The Fear Of Missing Out', produced by Harrison and Paul Hicks, a Grammy-winning producer-engineer from Abbey Road Studios.
Six on stage, with a plethora of equipment plus a very good-looking blonde girl doing the back-up vocals on certain songs, they delivered a brilliant set of music effortlessly mixing electronica and rock, truly showing an absorption of many decades of music. Harrison sure didn’t choose to imitate his father, but who would reproach him such a thing?
His hair hold in a short ponytail, with a short mustache (may be a way to blur the resemblance with his father) Dhani Harrison looked younger than his age (he is 34) and totally unassuming with his ‘Boneshakers’ t-shirt,… a fan in the front offered him a garland of flowers that he immediately put around his mic.
The music was very layered as well as anxious and worried with Harrison’s youthful and almost frightened vocals… ‘I'm changing so fast you can’t keep up’ he sang on 'Station', the first song they performed and also the album opener. All along the music, you can hear voices coming from movies – there was the Evil’s one ‘If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!’ from Terry Gilliam’s ‘Time Bandits’ in ‘Station’ – as if they wanted to be installing a climate of fear or at least distress throughout the atmospheric and complex music.
In any case, you could hardly hear a little bit of the Beatles' influence, may be if you listen carefully to the harmonies of ‘Make it Home’, a song which brought up more guitars in actions whereas the band was more occupied around the three synths on other songs. And you could have said something similar about ‘The Number’ whose soundscapes were slightly stretching in direction of some buried-in-the-mix strawberry fields.
They used two electric ukuleles on ‘Timezone’ mixed with some Radiohead-ish electronics and Harrison’s moaning vocals floating over a sort of distress. The roaring synth and jumping beginning of ‘I Won’t Go’ was something between the Flaming Lips and Radiohead, and the restless tune was rather catchy in its complexity.
The sonic ambiance was both familiar and weird, as the synth and electronic equipment was coughing and chopping all kinds of bizarre sounds here and there, layered with science fiction samples and intriguing voices. They also played an old song from their previous album, ‘So Vain’, a sort of showgazing electronic with floating vocals before turning raucous and distorted, bringing anger and fury.
Did I mention Radiohead twice already? The music was actually difficult to describe, bubbling from all parts, experimental and unexpected, surprisingly thick and very busy, with a huge sound, thumping drumming and dreamy vocals. … the band even added another song to the setlist, ‘a slow one’ announced Dhani who switched several times between guitar and synth during this tense, sad and melancholic slow-burn, producing strident ear-splitting noises. They disappeared and came back to sign vinyl and CDs purchased by a crowd of all ages. I can tell that the album is even more diverse than what they played ,with guests artists as eclectic as Ben Harper, Regina Spektor and the Wu-Tang's RZA.
Harrison described the album as ‘electro-blues’, ‘grunge 'n' bass’, and ‘Hawaiian dub-hop’, to the LA Weekly,… funny, but one thing is sure, with thenewno2, he has built his own identity.
Make It Home
I Won’t Go