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- Posted on Oct 20th 2010 1:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
As the Swedish-American sister act Smoosh played Tuesday evening at New York City's Mercury Lounge as part of CMJ, one couldn't help but be reminded of an old Morrissey lyric: "How can someone so young sing words so sad?" After all, 18-year-old frontwoman Asy is pretty, talented and self-assured. Can she really be worried about the boneheaded boys that seem to be the subjects of her lush indie-pop songs?
Of course she can -- she's only human -- but early in Tuesday's set, during the song 'Dark Shine,' she also let it be known she's no pushover. "If you call me on this," she sang, standing on tiptoes in a white dress, playing dainty arpeggios on her keyboard, "I'm right/I'm righter."
Asy's not Beyonce fierce, but lord help the guy that gets on her bad side. Such a fellow would also have to tussle with her younger sister Chloe, Smoosh's drummer, a capable percussionist who spent Tuesday night playing Ringo-lite fills and wobbly dance beats. Kid sister Maia joined in on bass, dropping simple lines that gave the songs their foundation.
Maia is relatively new to the group, and by the time she joined in 2007, Asy and Chloe had already been at it for nearly a decade. The girls got some early help from music teacher and mentor Jason McGerr, drummer for Death Cab for Cutie, and over the years, as they've split their time between Seattle and Stockholm, the sisters have shared stages with Pearl Jam, Sufjan Stevens and Nada Surf, among others.
In other words, they're old pros, and if the sound isn't quite right, someone is going to hear about it.
"It's supposed to sound like a harp," Asy told the soundman at one point. "It doesn't really sound like a harp."
The guy at the board must have fixed the problem, because as Asy proceeded to sing 'The Line,' from Smoosh's recently released third album, 'The World's Not That Bad,' her slightly icy smile melted into a real one. The violin and upright bass supplied by two supplementary musicians may also have had a warming effect.
On closer 'We Are Our Own Lies,' Asy opened with sweeping, angelic synth chords, doubling up the placid beauty of that troublesome harp effect. She eventually moved to choppy piano, a Smoosh signature, and Chloe countered with an anxious beat.
"We are so afraid to be ourselves," Asy sang, perhaps talking about herself as a person, certainly not talking about herself as a musician.