The Great Nostalgic Homegrown Live

I generally think of theatricality as a bad thing. Though I try to be a fan of all things musical, musical theater still largely gets under my skin. The over-enunciating, over-emoting histrionics rarely translate for me into true emotional connection. This distaste has been clear cut for me my whole life. And here come the Great Nostalgic making life hard for me, because they are theatrical – and really freakin’ amazing.

TGN are my new favorite Austin band. Their self-titled debut came out to great local acclaim two years ago, and for good reason. It introduced a sound that harkened back to the theatricality of some of the all-time great British bands like Roxy Music and the Smiths. Yet the band remains remarkably contemporary with the stilting rhythms of Wolf Parade and the mellifluous delivery of Wild Beasts. Their songs, like “Fire Brigade,” “County Line,” or “Young Lovers” (to name just a few from that great album), shift rhythms and styles effortlessly without losing their coherence.

The Great Nostalgic - Fire Brigade

Singer Abram Shook certainly deserves a lot of credit for his compelling vocal performances, but the rest of the band demands just as much for creating soundscapes that match his bombast. The music is so grand, with its creative chord changes and massive arrangements, that it almost necessitates a singer like Shook to complement it. And yet, TGN’s songs remain accessible and catchy.

The Great Nostalgic - Spirit World

On their new album, Hope We Live Like We Promised, they deliver another round of fantastic, intricate, engrossing songs that will continue to reveal themselves through repeated listens. Near-bookends “Spirit World” and “Morning Light” illustrate the best of this band – the former maintains insanely catchy hooks while never quite sounding repetitious while the latter offers dense but moving lyrics while the song shapeshifts through many styles and arrangements.

The Great Nostalgic - Morning Light

I’ll be writing more about this band when Hope We Live Like We Promised makes my personal best-of list at the end of the year, and possibly before then if rumors of even more new material this year materialize. In the meantime, you should buy the new album for the low price of $6 here at Amazon and watch for them on tour throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Kansas this summer. Oh, and of course, catch them tonight at the Mohawk for Homegrown Live!