Yesterday, it trickled through Twitter that Broadcast front woman Trish Keenan was battling pneumonia. It’s just been reported that she lost that battle. She’ll definitely be missed. In Austin, it’s currently cold and overcast. In other words, it’s a perfect day to throw on a Broadcast album. If you’re looking for suggestions, you can’t go wrong with any of them, but Haha Sound and Tender Buttons hold special places in my heart. “Color Me In,” to borrow from my review of it for KVRX, sounds like an overture to a musical where the wistful female lead is dreaming of an imaginary beau as the floorboards creak underneath her. “Arc of a Journey” recalls a rollercoaster rider’s lone assent to heaven. And if you want to loop “And I’m Gone,” her collaboration with Café Tacvba that closes Prefuse 73’s Surrounded By Silence, you wouldn’t be the first. It’s powerful stuff.
Like Maura Johnston, Keenan possessed one of my favorite voices. At once saturnine and deceptively expressive, Keenan’s alto seemed a derivation of Stereolab’s Letitia Sadier but was evocative in its singularity. No one made sadness and longing sound quite as tangible yet remote as Keenan. I saw the band once, and they were kind of distant. I think the once-Birmingham-based outfit must have had some ugly run-in with Texan police officers and thought the crowd at the Parish were a bunch of hicks. One guy yelled “Free Bird!” which must have confirmed their suspicions. As a result, KVRX couldn’t get an in-studio recording or an interview out of them. Nonetheless, their hypnotic, esoteric pop entranced me. A pity we couldn’t be closer and we lost her so soon, but as we can gather from a band who knew full well about the unsettling power of melody and memory coming together, we’ll always have the music.