My Enigma with Tegan and Sara
I can't recall how long ago it was, but 'Speak Slow' was played on one of the now defunct radio stations I used to frequent, and just like that I was introduced to the Canadian sister act, Tegan and Sara. I liked the song, and their sound, but did not really look much into the duo at that time.
Fast forward a few years.
In late 2009, I was in dire need of some new music to add to my iPod for the bus rides to class, so I naturally turned to the place where I figured I could find some- the radio, in particular, free internet radio via iTunes (Seriously, if you have iTunes, utilize this, its great… and FREE). I was perusing, listening for anything that caught my ear, when I happened to hear the song 'Nineteen' by Tegan and Sara. After recognizing the artists, I decided to storm the internet to listen to more of the pair's material.
Through my search, I found a link to their first performance on The Interface on Spinner.com (a link to all Interface performances is this way ----> ).
This four song set contained strictly acoustic renditions of the songs 'Back In Your Head', 'The Con', 'Nineteen', and 'Dark Come Soon' off the twin sisters' latest album at the time The Con.
Armed with only their two voices, three guitars (they had a 3rd guitarist), and xylophone (on 'Back In Your Head'), Tegan and Sara sounded absolutely phenomenal. They truly did an outstanding job, especially in terms of vocal performance, where they fed off one another to create very pleasant harmonies. If they hadn't already won me over, they surely did after I saw the videos. In fact, I liked the performance so much, I downloaded the mp3 version that Spinner offered and separated it into 4 different tracks. In my opinion, these are better acoustic takes than found elsewhere (e.g. Live Session on iTunes), though Take Away Shows (link on side) also got good Tegan and Sara footage.
Interestingly enough, during this time, when I had first started going to Spinner regularly, Tegan and Sara were releasing their album Sainthood and had done a second performance on The Interface- this time, a full band one. The four songs included in the Sainthood set were the tracks 'Hell', 'Alligator', 'On Directing', and 'The Cure'.
These songs were quite different from the ones from the first performance, mainly due to the electric sound. Once again, Tegan and Sara (and band) did not disappoint and gave me more reason to love them. My favorites were the fast-paced 'Hell' and the lighter fare of 'The Cure'. I was further elated when I learned in March that the two were releasing the Sainthood Interface set on a limited vinyl pressing for Record Store Day, which I was lucky to pick up (the place I went to literally had only 1 copy of this).
At this point, I started to compare both the stripped down acoustic tracks and the full band songs to their album version counterparts, and this is where the criticism comes in. THE LIVE TRACKS WERE VASTLY SUPERIOR!! I know the aforementioned statement is just my opinion, but I want you, the reader of this post, to take a good while and listen to one version, followed by the other. Conceivably, many of you will at least be able to see where I'm coming from, and maybe even some of you will be believers. The nuances in each of the live tracks help create magnificent sounding products that are just better than the original versions. For example, the decision to use a brighter, less warm guitar tone on 'Hell' gave the tune a different, more fitting sound. I could go on and on, but I'll let you find them on your own, especially since this post is quite long as it is. Perhaps credit should also be given to the crew of The Interface who are responsible for the sound of each performance. Lastly, I know some of you will say there are bands out there that are known for being better live acts, and I will agree this is true- case in point: Phish. It is possible that this is the case, though I'm not entirely sure.
At any rate, I think we can all agree that the sisters of indie rock, Tegan and Sara, kick some major ass, and I hope one day I will get to see them in person when I have some cash.
I have updated the links on the side, and will probably add at least one more. If you would like to be linked, just say so in the comments section. For those that may want to be featured, instructions are in the post 'Back in Black'. I will try and include a small paragraph on this on the side in the near future. Next time on Nicotine & Rock: should groups trying to recreate an influence's sound lose credibility? Until then…