Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liam Hayes at the Mercury Lounge

Milwaukee-based Liam Hayes, professionally known as Plush since 1992, grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where he began learning to play classical piano at age seven. Four years later he gravitated to the guitar, with rock stardom in his eyes even then. Yet, over the course of five albums beginning in 1998, his music has ranged from lush orchestral pop to singer-songwriter ballads and garage rock. Filmmakers have gravitated to his sound, however, and Hayes has appeared as himself performing "Soaring and Boring" in 2000's High Fidelity and "So Much Music" in 2013's A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, for which he scored the entire soundtrack. His most recent album, the stripped down pop-rocking Slurrup, was released on January 13.

At the Mercury Lounge tonight, Hayes presented a refreshed vision of his music as a guitar-based collection of short and scrappy power pop songs. Hayes' songs aimed left of center, however, a bit on the quirky side, less the Carole King of his past and presently more akin to Elvis Costello. Backed only by a simple rhythm section, Hayes' vocals and guitar lines fluctuated between seductive melodies and more intricate compositions. This direction could make Liam Hayes the new darling of the indie movement.

Visit Liam Hayes at www.liamhayesandplush.com.