Not sure what you’re doing on Wednesday, but if you have a chance, I’d recommend going to Chapel Hill’s Local 506 to see Efterklang headline a three-band bill with Lost in the Trees and Canon Blue. On the disclosure tip, I happen to be staying at the same Austin house as the band thanks to a coincidence of mutual friends. But that doesn’t matter: About three hours ago, I watched as the Danes struggled with technical problems under a hillside tent atop the verdant lawn of Austin’s French Legation. At first frustrated and a bit perplexed by a venue soundboard that croaked and an onstage computer that soon followed suit, the six-piece—featuring multi-instrumentalists Peter and Heather Broderick of Portland, Ore.—soldiered on with a captivating and powerful set, its arch melodies pushed up from all sides by violin, double drums, keyboards, horns and tasteful guitar that stood as each song’s understated root.
Early in its career, Efterklang worked its pop ideas to cerebral limits, adding glitches and textures that sometimes worked against a song’s overall lift. Texturally, it was interesting, but it seemed to bypass many of the pop ears that could have loved it (check 2004’s Tripper, on which too many slept). Now, though, the band’s folded everything in, adding bulk and muscle to chamber rock in a way that most American bands doing similar things (on the dapper side, think Sufjan; on the bludgeoning side, think Annuals) haven’t. At once, Efterklang maintains intricacy while supplying power. Efterklang’s finishing a new record, and Thursday’s peak—which included an instant little magnet of a song sporting the working titled, “I am Playing the Drums”—offered the sort of moments that made me think this band should finally get its stateside due soon.
I feel the same way about Slaraffenland, the newer Danish band who toured the country with Efterklang last summer. I haven’t seen them at SXSW yet, but the quintet premiered many of its new songs (due in September on Hometapes) at a set outside an art gallery in San Antonio Tuesday. Much like Efterklang, the band’s debut, Private Cinema, surrounded its catchiest gems with instrumental fragments and tangents that I fear were lost on many a bedrock pop fan. But these new songs were stunning, all resplendent rise resulting in total triumph. If American indie rock criticism suddenly takes a Danish bent this year, I’d predict these two bands have a lot to do with it.
By the way, I had a lot to say about the Efterklang and Slaraffenland when they came through last year.