February 18th, 2008 | Interviews

johnnie craig


Sian Alice Group “Motionless” (from 59.59)


Mike Bones “Love’s Not Yours” (from The Sky Behind The Sea)


I saw Sian Alice this summer at the Social Registry festival, but by now they’re the newly appointed rock darlings of New York—even featured in the new issue of Vice, which many of last night’s audience members held clutched in their fingerless-gloved hands. Then they struck me as Lavender Diamond-ish, and last night I found that I’d remembered correctly. The Sian Alice Group is indeed very much like Lavender Diamond: lead singer Sian Ahern has a deeper voice than Becky Stark, and appears to have more control, but she lacks energy—something Lavender Diamond always has. Their songs tend to be on the slower (although lovely) side, and I found myself glancing at the time and wondering how many were left. There were a few exceptions, like when they played “Way Down To Heaven,” a haunting song in which the entire band built into a loud crescendo. At one point the drummer was hitting his skins so hard,I thought he might punch through. There were too few songs like that, though, and it was even more frustrating to listen knowing that they could (if they wanted) rock out. My advice to the Sian Alice Group, if you want it: stick to the songs in which you use all your energy and resources at once.

Mike Bones—the opening act—also had quite a few slow songs, but they were packed with that magic fairy dust that makes the difference. He’s one of those rare talents who somehow manage to seem honest and vulnerable at the same time. He plays beautiful meditative reflections on relationships, swaying with his head thrown back and eyes closed. Each song sounded vaguely like the last, but in a way that was neither obnoxious nor indicative of a lack of talent. His voice has a raw sandpaper feel and comes across as rustic and old—like he might be playing these to himself in a cabin far away from other ears, as if he was trying to convince himself of his own talent. Each song came across as authentic and at moments pained, and I found myself thinking of the songs of Leonard Cohen and how each one blends seamlessly into the next. He even had moments of Daniel Johnston’s turmoil and isolation, like we’d stumbled in on him, simply singing to himself. I know this sounds goony and gushy, but this guy plays beautiful music. And he’s a lyricist, which as a writer, I appreciate.

Reporting Live From New York,
I’m Nikki Darling and You’re Not