Make a scene: Mirrorgloss’ raucous dance jams have unexpected roots http://ift.tt/1nJEEl9
The catalyst for Tacoma’s newest buzz band, Mirrorgloss, is the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. That might come as some surprise to dozens of hipsters who shook their culos to the trio’s soulful but stripped down grooves last weekend at the Half Pint on Sixth Avenue.
Guitarist, keyboard player and drum programmer Danny Kenny distills the sound that he and band mates Najamoniq Todd and Del Brown will next replicate on May 3 at the New Frontier Lounge down to “a combination of Earth Wind & Fire and Gary Numan.” But Buckley – known, in contrast, for affecting, melodic rock tunes like “Grace” and “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” - has always been a presence.
“Jeff Buckley pretty much plays full circle in this band, starting with our friendship,” Brown said, recalling how she first spotted her “bestie,” Todd, on a mutual friend’s MySpace page. “I saw her face and I knew, from the moment I looked at her smile, she was gonna be my best friend,” she said. “And I saw she liked Jeff Buckley.”
Their obsession with music fueled their next decade as two of Tacoma’s most notorious scenesters, from promoting metal shows and DJ-ing dance nights at the New Frontier and Magoo’s Annex to sneaking backstage to meet Queens of the Stone Age at KeyArena.
“When we met, we attacked the scene together,” Todd recalled. “She’s lively and fun and crazy, and she makes me do crazy stuff.”
“And she’s the funniest girl I’ve ever met,” Brown added. “We play really well off of each other.”
Both had jammed with local bands, and it seemed inevitable they would form their own. Things started heading in that direction in 2012 thanks to Kenny. His Los Angeles-based outfit, Fat Branch, had flirted with stardom in the early ’90s, but he’d been largely inactive for years. So he was itching for a new project.
Nate Kirby, the front man for defunct outlaw country band Ten Miles of Bad Road, introduced him to Todd, and the first incarnation of Mirrorgloss was born, originally as a quartet with Nightgowns drummer B.J. Roberts.
Granted, their initial attempts at making music flopped. “I was being as diplomatic as possible, so I just said it wasn’t working for me,” Kenny said. And it was up to Jeff Buckley to kindle yet another partnership.
Todd phoned Kenny to see if he’d take part in a tribute night she was putting together to commemorate Buckley at the New Frontier, in December 2012. “I really wanted to pay homage to a musician that meant so much in my life and in her life,” Todd said. “But I definitely had ulterior motives,” she added, laughing.
She, Brown and Roberts already knew they had musical chemistry and saw Kenny as their missing ingredient. The second time was a charm; not only was the tribute night successful, but their practice sessions yielded “Late Night Sweat,” a dance jam that was a template for the Mirrorgloss sound. (Its title also briefly served as the new band’s name.)
At this point, Mirrorgloss has put together a 10-song set that’s sure to appeal to fans of such indie-dance acts as the Gossip, Santogold and !!!. Brown and Todd sing with gusto and Kenny provides funky musical backing, with drum loops filling in for the departed Roberts.
“It doesn’t sound like anything else,” Todd said of her band’s place in the local scene. “Sometimes it’s hard because you just have to be confident in the fact that you believe in what you’re doing. We don’t have anybody co-signing with us. If you’re in a metal band, you can say you have 28 other bands co-signing what you’re doing.”
The May 3 show at the New Frontier is a release party for the band’s inaugural E.P., “Parking Lot,” which was produced by Tacoma electronic musician Eliot Lipp, a guy who has gained some notoriety on the national electronic dance music scene.
“The fact that somebody with that much clout would actually back what we are doing right now, and so early on, is really telling,” Brown said. “I believe we’re on the right path. I think that this is clearly what we should be doing right now.”
The new E.P. Will feature three songs, “Parking Lot (Meet Me There),” “Skin Talk” and “Sense and Insanity.” At press time, band members thought the disc might also include a remix by Tacoma producer Eddie Sumlin.
Playing with Mirrorgloss are Wheelies, the Tacoma indie-rock band that is celebrating the release of its own new album, “Never Die” (available online at http://ift.tt/1nJEJVL) and Seattle’s NighTrain, a quartet that adorns the cover of City Arts Magazine’s “best new music issue.” Music will start after 9 p.m., and cover is $5; http://ift.tt/I3eYRA.April 23, 2014 at 10:19AM