Brasstronaut / An Horse Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, BC September 23

Brasstronaut / An Horse Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, BC September 23
This show was originally supposed to be a release party for the album Brasstronaut recorded during their artist residency at the Banff Centre this past winter, but since the release date has now been pushed back to February 2010, the patrons of the Biltmore instead got a sneak preview of things to come.

After a DJ set with members of Vancouver's No Gold manning the decks, Brisbane, Australia's An Horse took the stage to open the proceedings. This up-and-coming duo have really started to turn heads - in the past year, they've appeared on Letterman, had their song "Postcards" featured in a Mercedes-Benz commercial, and toured with Death Cab for Cutie and Tegan and Sara. Composed of Kate Cooper (guitar/vocals, formerly of Iron On) and Damon Cox (drums), the band plays wistful guitar pop with two-part vocal harmony, which doesn't really sound that interesting, but the strength of the songwriting and Cooper's inventive guitar playing make it more than worth a listen.

Every time you see Brasstronaut play, they're liable to have a new member or two, and tonight was no exception. The guiding principle of the group seems to be excellent, formally trained musicianship. Wrap these serious chops around catchy pop songwriting, and you have Brasstronaut in a nutshell. At times recalling the orchestral ambiance of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and at others indulging in some surprisingly un-lame fusion-style noodling, they really don't sound like anything else going on right now.

Front-man Edo Van Breemen sings and anchors the band on keyboards, and on songs like "Old World Lies" and "Requiem for a Scene," as well as on a number of new songs, Brasstronaut's pop component shines through in brilliant colours. Now if only that album would come out...