Little Green Cars @ Union Transfer (4/20)

littlegreencars-3.jpgLittle Green Cars, an indie-rock band from Dublin, Ireland, played Union Transfer on April 20. The five-piece band, signed with Glassnote, released their second album Ephemera on March 11. It features the lead single “The Song They Play Every Night”, named after a poem by Nobel prize winning poet W.B. Yeats.

Little Green Cars seem to have an affinity for poetry, favoring figuratively expressive lyrics as in “My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me”:

My love took me down to the river to silence me.
And when he left I could not speak.
I lay on the ground, I tried to scream.
But no sound did come out, I could only bleed blue.

Many of their lyrics read similarly, as if they were works of poetry first before being translated into music. One member of the band even recited a poem he had written about one of the songs before launching into its performance.

Melodically, Little Green Cars’ music is rich and full, featuring five and even six part harmony (a sixth member joined the original five for a few songs) in addition to five or six instruments. Verses belted by the band’s strongest performer vocally, Faye, burst into choruses with all five members joining in, leaning towards their microphones as they play their guitars/bass/piano/drums.

Faye, the only woman on stage amongst four (sometimes five) other men, stole the show with an incredible vocal range and a refined sensitivity in her upper register complemented by power and texture in her lower octaves. Despite her constant apologies for being sick (“I’m so sorry, I have laryngitis”), she sang beautifully, calling for audience participation whenever her voice needed a rest.

Silence fell in Union Transfer as the piano chords of “Ok Ok Ok” began, and Faye stepped up to the microphone alone to sing the ballad, expertly navigating the change between vocal registers as the notes of the chorus rose and fell.

But perhaps the most special moment of the set was an acoustic version of “The Factory”, during which all five band members climbed down from the stage as the audience crowded around them on the floor. Everyone was silent as the band performed without any amplification and people drew in as closely as they could to hear music. Distractions disappeared, phones went away, and eyes closed as Little Green Cars sang the beautiful harmonies of “The Factory”, dedicated to “those we have lost” (after one band member spoke of his loss of his friend, Katie, to suicide):

Jesus, Mary, Mother of God.
I’m alive again. I’m alive again.

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