Tomorrow night the City Life will debut its new single, "White Elephant," at Carrollton Station alongside homeboys Fay Wray. The guitar-driven track, an angular post-punk rocker with happy feet that bears striking resemblance to Franz Ferdinands The Dark of the Matinee, is easily the top horse in the emerging quintets impressive stable of restless-leg dance anthems. It's perhaps my second-favorite NOLA rock song of the moment.
Now, I have yet to witness the City Life do the Elephant, but it would be tough to imagine the band or any local band, for that matter topping the live rendition of Ernest Borgnine put on by Antenna Inn. The latter, a nine-piece jazz/rock outfit, has its shortcomings, nearly all of which revolve around its proclivity for emo vocals and overblown poems (see: The mind is a crazy thing/But only when you listen to it). Its hard to find fault with the groups onstage product, however, which at times borders on a sonic orgy and is always a study in glorious excess.
Dueling drum kits. Mid-song instrument swaps. Tag-teamed vibraphone solos. Curtain-dropping rhythm circles. Each of these made an appearance at a recent Blue Nile gig, and all on the encore performance of Borgnine, a 7-minute syncopation lesson that borrows parts from the Mercury Program, Tortoise, Aloha, Danny Elfman and Steely Dan and sounds precisely like none of them. It starts with two plunks on a piano and ends with a leisurely, lounge-y keys/brass/bass waltz. In between there are itchy cymbals and scratch snares; multiple polyrhythmic, Elfmanesque vibe-offs that evoke snowflakes colliding in a Tim Burton-directed blizzard; and that wordless, ooh-ooh-hoo-ooh-hoo falsetto hook that eventually should catch Antenna Inn the record deal it's been fishing for. With music this good, who the hell needs lyrics? (Seriously, fellas who needs 'em.)