Flowers Bring Their Stellar-Voiced Rainy-Day Jangle and Clang to Two New York Shows
The last time this blog caught Flowers onstage, it was at one of those predictable, tantalizingly brief CMJ early afternoon gigs at Cake Shop in October of 2014. The British trio distinguish themselves with singalong melodies, late 80s Manchester after-the-rain guitars and frontwoman Rachel Kenedy’s pure, unadorned, almost crushingly direct chorister’s voice. She’s impossible to turn away from: you can get absolutely lost in her vocal flights, much in the same vein as another extraordinary British-born singer, Amanda Thorpe, who’s making a whirlwind trip through New York this month, with a stop at Hifi Bar on June 13 at 8 PM where she’s joined by fellow guitarists Steven Butler and Don Piper. Flowers are playing a couple of shows of their own on June 11: at 2 PM, they’re at Rough Trade for free, and if you can’t get away during the day and have a sawbuck to spare, you can catch them back at Cake Shop at around 10 that night.
Last time around, Kenedy’s voice lept and dove with an unselfconscious grace and a lock on perfect pitch while drummer Jordan Hockley and guitarist Sam Ayres kept close behind: the tunes in this band start with the voice and then the instruments fill in the blanks. They opened with Here with You, making their way methodically from plaintive jangle to buzzy guitar-and-drums lo-fi indie clang. From there, they followed a syncopated sway, their frontwoman moving counterintuitively back toward a summery, hazy delivery even while the music picked up. Hockley set down a jaunty shuffle groove for the soaring number after that, Ayres chopping at his chords with exacto-knife precision.
They hit an almost trip-hop groove afterward, then pounced through their most anthemic number of the afternoon, worked their way into an unexpectedly successful, funky drive and then gave Kenedy a platform for her most spectacular leaps and bounds of the evening. They closed with a stark, skeletal number, Kenedy playing bass. It’ll be interesting to see what other directions the band has branched out into since then.