A kaleidoscope of sounds, influences

Yeasayer at the Coachella festival in California recently. Yeasayer at the Coachella festival in California recently. (Karl Walter/Getty Images/File)
By James Reed
Globe Staff / May 6, 2010

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Remember what it looks like when you hold a kaleidoscope up to the light and twist it slowly? Colors collide, shapes shift, and spaces contort to make new ones.

That’s pretty much what Yeasayer’s music sounded like at its sold-out show at the Paradise Rock Club on Monday. On the strength of its new album, “Odd Blood,’’ Yeasayer has essentially emerged as this year’s Animal Collective, which is to say the Brooklyn experimental rock band is lauded for how it lays waste to various influences to form its own identity.

At times the songs were dizzying, heady with Middle Eastern mysticism one moment and then blunt as an anvil the next. For every gurgling synth line, there was a plodding cowbell to counter it. If there was any constant, it was the band’s passion for how it conjured the music, with an emphasis on blurring the line between live performance and recorded material.

No matter how convoluted and textured the music got, the band members where completely in synch with what was going on around them. On “Rome,’’ as Chris Keating held court on vocals, Anand Wilder followed him with rat-a-tat notes on a synthesizer, as if tapping out some sort of caustic Morse Code.

Reserved in the shadows, Wilder came alive in the spotlight, particularly when he took the lead on “O.N.E.,’’ an infectious dance number that had the entire Paradise crowd united in the anthemic chorus: “Hold me like before/ Hold me like you used to/ Control me like you used to.’’

It was the kind of labyrinthine song that showcased how well Yeasayer can make so many different moving parts work together. More straightforward was “Mondegreen,’’ with Keating chanting, “Everybody’s talking about me and my baby’’ over a melody best described as electro-rockabilly. Yet again, it was futile to parse the individual pieces at play, but that didn’t make the whole any less compelling.

As primitive as they were primal, the heavily hyped duo Sleigh Bells opened the show with a ferocious set of industrial rock mostly cued by a drum machine. Backed by guitarist Derek Miller, singer Alexis Krauss hijacked the performance with her girlish coos and feral shrieks, usually within a note of one another. Occasionally, though, you wished their sound was more sophisticated to match that fury.

James Reed can be reached at

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With Sleigh Bells

At: Paradise Rock Club, Monday