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Eagle & Talon and Deep Sea Diver can learn from each other

June 3, 2009 |  4:56 pm

The Echo had a pretty interesting slate of opening acts at last night's Olin & the Moon show: Eagle & Talon, a '90s-tilting indie duo-plus-extras, and Deep Sea Diver, a gauzy Long Beach quartet fronted by Jessica Dobson, who's been moonlighting as Beck's guitarist. Both bands are getting a toehold in some bigger ambitions -- the former has a fun new record "Thracian" out June 23 that's a big step up from past efforts, and the latter is about to ship off opening for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Both were compelling for completely opposite reasons last night, but let's take a look at what each band could've learned from the other's set.

As is clear in the above video, the push-and-pull between charm and haphazardness is Eagle & Talon's currency. I don't need to tell any of you that singer Kim Talon is going to cut a long trail of gobsmacked Echo Park rocker boys this year, so let's get right to the music. First off, they need to try much harder. Alice Talon is a tiny terror of a drummer, but E&T's songs are so screwy and noncommittal that she doesn't get to sit still and show it too often. This is a band that both burned holes in their Helium records but didn't quite crack the code as to why that band was so good --  because the songs were. Bits and pieces like the chorus of "Ice Life" are uncannily pretty and need to happen much more often, and Kim could stand to dial back on the breathy Debbie Harry delivery by a few clicks. They have appeal and chemistry that can't be bought or taught, so it's a bit frustrating to see a band that could be much bigger seem not to trust their own writing.

Deep Sea Diver, however, was consummately professional and inventive, yet hit an odd spot of being just chilly enough to neither overwhelm with vigor nor affect with distance. Dobson has an echo of PJ Harvey in her severe features, yet spends much of her time singing in a clear, pure falsetto that was moving but just a little too austere. The band's record is loud, blissy and inviting, and though they had two excellent drummers onstage, some frequency was missing -- another guitar, a synth, more vocals, I don't know. Dobson expends more talent drinking coffee in the morning than most bands earn in a career, so it'd be nice to really see her go for broke in arranging a live setting.

So, for what it's worth, here's my Ann Landers-esque "40 lashes with a wet noodle" advice for the day: Eagle & Talon, practice more and write harder. Deep Sea Diver, you could just ruin people live and should pursue doing so. And L.A. will have two very interesting bands to show for it.

--August Brown

Photo credit: Eagle & Talon; Martin Vielma