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Live review: thenewno2 at Amoeba Music

August 01, 2012|By Tshego Letsoalo
  • Singer-songwriter Dhani Harrison of the band thenewno.2 at his studio in Santa Monica in 2009. The band played Amoeba Records for the release of its second album, "The Fear of Missing Out."
Singer-songwriter Dhani Harrison of the band thenewno.2 at his studio… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

The band called thenewno2 sounds good --  whether in the deep abyss of headphones or in the open space of the Amoeba Music store in Hollywood, where the group was celebrating the release of its second album, "The Fear of Missing Out" -- as well as band member Dhani Harrison's 34th birthday. The rock, dub, electro, indie and psychedelic sounds coming from the back of the store, behind the rows of CDs, was thick and full from that compact stage.

“Thanks for that,” Harrison (of the George Harrison Harrisons) said to the cheering mini-crowd as he strapped on a white electric guitar and the five-piece outfit began its short set.  thenewno2 -- “the new number two” --  has done a slight remodel of the lineup that was on the band’s debut album, "You Are Here," but the intricate, Radiohead-ish soundscapes are still present thanks to producer Paul Hicks and the rich threads of bass from Nick Fyffe. 

This version of the band, assembled in mid-2009, released an EP back in 2011 that featured Regina Spektor and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Guests were also a bit of a theme on "The Fear of Missing Out"  ­ ­-- RZA reappeared, Ben Harper is on the techno-beated track “Staring Out to Sea” and Thorunn Antonia, a striking Nordic blond vocalist, was there to pop on and off the stage as she contributed vocals on a couple songs.

The set was a representative display of the different kinds of musical elements that fill in the colors of "Fear of Missing Out." There were examples of the sampling, the thunderous drumming, the dubstep wobbling, the guitar shredding and the hand-clapping that are at least somewhere and everywhere on the album.  From the robotic opener, “Station," the group went into the first single, “Make It Home,” with its anxious piano and blaring, synth-y chorus that is festival-ready.

Harrison, excited by the fact that people were still buying records, was ambushed halfway through the set with a little pink thenewno2 cake and a singing of "Happy Birthday," prompted by the rest of the band. The three or so candles were blown out and it took a little bit for the adorably surprised birthday boy to get back into the zone behind the protective wall of his keyboard and microphone stand.

The most "fear of missing out" song on the album is the last one, “The Number,” which is a melodic back and forth with Antonia. It starts with soft guitars that get more urgent, and as she sweetly suggests, “You could be mine,” he keeps insisting that there’s no time. There’s too much to do, too much not to miss out on.

The cacophony of sounds packed into "The Fear of Missing Out" is like the musical equivalent of that fear -- trying to pack it all in in case anything is left out and you’re stuck with shouldadunnit regrets. At no point, though, does it ever feel like too much, perhaps because of the artful construction of each track and the quality production that translates as well on the stage as it does to the vinyl and CDs purchased at Amoeba on Tuesday.

Six songs later (and after Harrison encouraged more record buying in general), the band disappeared before returning to sign the aforementioned vinyls and CDs.

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