the new year [2008]

Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA
25 September 2008

If there were such thing as perfect math; if math could be beautiful, powerful and vulnerable.

I’ve never pretended to understand math beyond its most basic level – numbers and angles and formulas with straight-forward solutions.

But what I believe math truly is, what I know it must be, to those who truly understand its many nuances and permutations, is music.

The New Year’s music delivers a stunning series of crescendos, wave after wave of math, crashing down upon your ears. The notes, the layers of melody, the (at times) seemingly disparate rhythms, all combine to form nothing short of a perfect formula of sound.

Tonight at Bottom of the Hill, their San Francisco home for as long as I have known them, they once again shined. Supporting their recently released self-titled album, The New Year proved that the sound that they have spent 15+ years developing (initially as Bedhead) is as fresh and invigorating as ever.

One surprising note: as so eloquently pointed out 3/4 of the way through the set from some guy in the back (“Where’s the piano?”), the strong presence of the piano from the new album was wholly absent. As explained after the show by Bubba Kadane, the logistics of touring with a piano (coupled with a lack of confidence in a keyboard’s ability to adequately replicate the piano’s sound) caused the band to leave the piano out of their live show.

Happily, the show did not suffer for it (though perhaps the piano was missed in “Body & Soul”), with the band focusing on more guitar-oriented tracks from all three TNY albums.

The New Year continue to put on an awe-inspiring show, building a tide of sound that fits perfectly and intricately together; one cannot help but see the math in the music and music in the math.