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Mr Little Jeans At The Roxy Theatre: Show Review

Lilian Min |
April 25, 2014 | 3:46 p.m. PDT

Music Editor

Monica Birkenes, aka Mr Little Jeans, played an intimate set of material off her new LP, "Pocketknife." (Lilian Min/Neon Tommy)
Monica Birkenes, aka Mr Little Jeans, played an intimate set of material off her new LP, "Pocketknife." (Lilian Min/Neon Tommy)
Artists cover other peoples' songs all the time, but it takes a rare talent to parlay a single cover into a record deal. And that's pretty much what Mr Little Jeans did.

After her woozy cover of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" hit it big on the Internet in 2011, the Norwegian singer (real name Monica Birkenes) had been laying low, releasing her work track by track (and contributing a song to the "Iron Man 3" soundtrack) until her debut LP "Pocketknife" finally dropped.

And boy, was it worth the wait. Jampacked with everything from the uplifting "Oh Sailor" to the vaguely unsettling "Good Mistake," "Pocketknife" slices (badum tsh) into the listener's ear.

It's infectious, bubbly pop that's garnished by Birkenes's lilting voice, and so when I learned that she was playing a show at the Roxy, I jumped at the chance to cover.

The event was part of a series of shows put on by Red Bull Sound Select, which features up-and-coming artists and integrates different digital social features into the live show experience, and KCRW.

After opening acts by local bands Breakfast (who did a killer cover of Cher's "Believe") and Avid Dancer, the venue, which was packed and still had a trail of people waiting to get into the show lined up outside, waited to hear MLJ's latest work live.

Birkenes shyly took the stage and then ran through the majority of her released repertoire. Opening with "Lady Luck," MLJ then launched into the rest of "Pocketknife," with the only non-album track she played being "Back to the Start," her contribution to last year's "Iron Man 3" compilation soundtrack.

With a spare live ensemble (only a drummer and keys/guitar guy joined her on stage), most of the production, including the children's choir in "Oh Sailor," was played via tracks.

That wasn't a problem in and of itself, but it would've been interesting, if not outright better, to hear her lush orchestrations take on full corporeal form.

Also unfortunately, due to the live mix -- which had been on-and-off for the other bands too -- Birkenes's vocals were sometimes overshadowed or even completely lost. Despite multiple attempts to get her levels up, audience members sometimes strained to hear the singer, who seemed noticeably flustered by the sound problems by the end of the set.

After rousing the crowd with her rendition of "The Suburbs," Birkenes ducked off stage and the curtain fell, curtailing any audience member's desire for an encore. Despite the night's uneven production quality, Mr Little Jeans had clearly given her all. Given the quality of work she's been putting out, it's only a matter of time before she gets the showcase she truly deserves.


  1. "Lady Luck"
  2. "Runaway"
  3. "Mercy"
  4. "Good Mistake"
  5. "Haunted"
  6. "Oh Sailor"
  7. "Back to the Start"
  8. "Rescue Song"
  9. "Valentine"
  10. "The Suburbs"

Originally published here.

Read more of NT's show reviews here.

Reach Music Editor Lilian Min here; follow her on Twitter and Google+.



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