3/17/11 BostonBandCrush: Leslie

C.D. On Songs: The HeartSleeves - "Leslie"          (return to Reviews)

From March 17, 2011 by C.D. Di Guardia

Usually, we are here to tell you to go to the rock club to see band so-and-so. And while a hip view of culture would argue that you are getting cultured at these things, I am not sure that we have ever sent you to anything named a "Cultural Center" unless it's like, the codename for someone's illegal underground basement show. But no, Saturday's show is at the Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture. It's all part of a celebration that will most notably feature tango lessons and today's featured band, the Heartsleeves. So go on, get cultured. Here's a taste.

This track's principle five-note motif is a simple, palindromic one. This familiar and recurirng theme gets several different looks throughout the run of "Leslie," Guitars, brass instruments, vocals and other elements all try the phrase on for size, with the the small alto brass section seeming to find the most flattering cut. Their reward is a solo section throughout the song's burly bridge; where sax phrases are sprinkled liberally throughout the section.

"Leslie" moves in pseudo-slow motion; like every element of the song is just a little heavier and meatier than you might initially expect. This ends up giving the track an element of gravity and soul and a pleasing element of heft to it; like a shiny new gun. The brass/standard rock band combo creates an E-Street like sensation; if Bruce and Clarence and the boys calmed down and dialed it way back.

This song's success comes mostly from its recurring theme. The motif is strong enough to hold its own through the multiple sonic incarnations, but the most telling moment is how it impressively ties the end of the bridge section together. The song abandons the five familiar notes for a while, yet at some point towards the end of the bridge, you can hear the song become reassured with itself; as if the arrangement sort of looks around, realizes everything is well in hand, and thern goes back to its favorite pose. "Leslie" makes it all work, even somehow including the word "Schenectady" in the lyrics. That alone is worth the price of admission - I can barely say it (or type it) - but the Heartsleeves makes it all happen.