Parc Avenue by Plants and Animals is sticking with me as one of 2008’s better CDs. This Montreal band simply has a bunch of catchy songs, and they play them with a sense of musical freedom, jamming however long they feel like jamming, but also veering off at times in unexpected directions. The songs make sense on some intuitive level, the pieces fitting together in unusual ways.
The Montreal trio was back in Chicago Friday night (March 27) for a sold-out show at Schubas, as they prepared to head to the Juno Awards in Canada. It was a strong set, featuring most if not all of the tracks on Parc Avenue and a couple of new songs as well. The drums and two guitars (or in some cases, one guitar and one bass) clicked together in a way that felt really natural and organic, and Warren Spicer sang with lots of emotion. Near the end of the show, when the audience was enthusiastically applauding guitarist-bassist Nicolas Basque as he strummed an autoharp on the song “Bye Bye Bye,” he couldn’t help the mischievous smile that crept onto his face. www.plantsandanimals.ca
I also quite enjoyed the opening set by Chicago’s Netherfriends, who played indie pop with a few psychedelic touches, trotting out the obligatory Melodica and even playing some percussion on actual pots and pans. It was a vigorous performance, well received by the crowd. www.myspace.com/netherfriends