Borrowing their name from a Neil Young movie, Human Highway is the new
side project for Islands’ frontman Nick Thorburn and former Island
member Jim Guthrie. Their album Moody Motorcycle was released in
mid-August. Though not as deep or unique as Thorburn’s Unicorns and
Islands work, Moody Motorcycle is a perfect end-of-summer record, which
the band as described as being Everly Brothers’-influenced.
The band debuted in the live form last night at the small LES club,
Cake Shop. The 3 back-up musicians came out first, picking up their
instruments and setting the groove for "The Sound" before Guthrie and
Thorburn joined them. Interestingly, the band essentially played the
album straight through, throwing in Jim Guthrie’s "Now, More Than Ever"
midway. There were points where it showed that the band was new to
playing the material live, and Thorburn often became distracted by the
buzzing of his amp. They even had the chord progressions for set-closer
"Duties of a Lighthouse Keeper" on a paper at their feet. Introducing
the song "Pretty Hair," Thorburn told the audience that it was about
Brooklyn, more specifically Toxic Brooklyn (a subject NY Press is quite
familiar with), and talked a little bit about how crazy it is for the
Greenpoint/Williamsburg area to be the most toxic place in America.
Then Thorburn shed some dark words with something like "I spend a lot
of time there too, so we’ll all die together," before starting up the
best song of the night.
If you missed them last night, you’ll get a second chance when Human Highway plays Joe’s Pub tonight.
Photos by Jonny Leather