Better Than: Sitting at home waiting for Questlove’s predictions about OWS to come true.
Before Youth Lagoon’s set at the Mercury Lounge, I had tried to describe the Boise, Idaho native’s music to a friend by saying that his debut album The Year Of Hibernation was akin to being wrapped in a grandmother-stitched quilt—warm, soothing, and swaddling. That feeling of comfort was taken from me too soon after the show came to a close (thanks, NYPD), but it’s a telling sign that it I wanted to experience it again almost immediately.
Youth Lagoon is the project of Trevor Powers, a 22-year-old who recorded the album of piano-driven, gentle pop in his bedroom, a part of the house where many artists have emerged from in recent months. Often they seem like they’d like to be back there—by themselves, and under the covers—instead of onstage. Powers is different; perhaps it was the cough medicine that he had taken earlier in the day to soothe his sore throat (he thanked the crowd for putting up with him, saying he had taken so much as to get “super stoned”) but he was engaging and lively, telling us to take drink breaks so the intimate setting of Mercury Lounge wouldn’t get awkward and laughing when people shouted out the Gem State. It’s possible that the sore throat enabled him and his bass player to recreate the sounds of The Year of Hibernation almost pitch-perfectly; the slight strain of his voice became part of the songs, bringing the album’s fuzzy quality of the album into the Mercury Lounge.
Part of the beauty of Powers’ debut is the number of ways one can interpret its songs’ development—they start quietly, but as layers are added they can take on an energetic quality or, if you’re so inclined, they can stay sleepy and filled with fuzz. The crowd at Mercury Lounge took this to heart, with some dancing during the spooky-yet-melodic “Cannons” and whistleable “Afternoons.” Most of crowd preferred to stay wrapped up with their lovers during the softer songs like “Montana” and “17,” however, proving that despite Powers’ ability to take his talents out of the bedroom and onto the stage, the bedroom is where most listeners, myself included, would prefer to experience his music, feeling its weight while under the covers with someone special.
Critical bias: This probably would have been way sappier if I hadn’t been screamed at by cops in riot gear as I tried to get into my Wall Street apartment.
Overheard: “What state is Boise in?” Guess Powers is still working to put Idaho on the map.
Random Notebook Dump: I need to work on my ways of identifying songs; I described one as “the one where it sounds like there is a big rock being dropped into a deep pond,” which, while poignant, doesn’t help the next morning’s writing process.