Alex G, Porches.

Alex G

Porches.

Your Friend

Tue, April 12, 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Middle East Downstairs

Cambridge, MA

$15 advance / $18 day of show

Sold Out

This event is all ages

Tickets available at TICKETWEB.COM or by phone at 866-777-8932. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at the Middle East seven days a week 12-7PM.

Alex G
Alex G
Not long after he finished recording Beach Music, his seventh full-length and Domino debut, Alex Giannascoli found himself in unfamiliar territory. “I took the record to a studio,” he says, “to get it mixed and mastered by some pros. But I was really nervous—usually, I’d just do everything myself and then put it out myself. I have this really precise vision and the best understanding of what I want to do.”

Over the course of six self-recorded and mostly self-released LPs, that vision has come to bear in frequently breathtaking, innately melodic forms. As Alex G, the Philadelphian singer-songwriter has built and feverishly shared a body of work unassuming in its presentation but astounding in its depth, a stream of recordings so rich and expansive that settling on a favorite song is nearly impossible: The moment you finally choose one, you discover another you hadn’t heard yet.

Beach Music was written and recorded in Giannascoli’s apartment, between the Fall of 2014 and the Spring of 2015, during breaks from touring with the likes of Elvis Depressedly, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Gardens & Villa. While its predecessors often came in uninterrupted bursts—from his head to his Bandcamp page in a matter of hours and days—Beach Music was shaped in part by Giannascoli adapting to life as a touring musician. Songs were written within months of one another rather than all at once, with influences ranging from noise music to piano-based laments to Southern rock to the rhythmic focus of techno—whatever he happened to be most interested in at the time. “Every song is coming from a different place,” he says. “It branches off in all these directions, but it has its own sound. It’s not something I do intentionally, but I’m the common thread.”

The result is Giannascoli’s most cohesive and beautiful work to date, as heard in the iridescent guitars of “Bug,” the starlit whispers of “Mud,” and the singularly strange harmonics of “Brite Boy.” Some feature parts of songs that he began writing as a kid; all are haunting additions to a songbook whose rewards continue to evolve and multiply with every listen. “I wanted this album to sound really warm and unpretentious and unfiltered,” he says. “I wanted to make music that was completely honest, music that was coming really naturally to me. I don’t know what or who I am if I’m not writing songs.”
Porches.
Porches.
When Aaron Maine looks back on his early work as Porches, he’s often struck by how sad and angry it can feel. “That music turned out a lot more pessimistic than I intended it to be,” he says. “But when I took a sad moment and turned it into a song, it was a cathartic, positive, and clean process. For me, those moments were victories. Feeling better,” he adds, “was making a song.”

As it turns out, Maine is very good at making songs. Over the last few years, the 27-year-old singer and songwriter has released a wealth of material on a number of influential labels, including singles on Terrible (2014’s Prism), Birdtapes (2013’s Townie Blunt Guts) and Seagreen (2014’s Leather), as well as a beautiful yet crushing full-length on Exploding in Sound (2013’s Slow Dance In The Cosmos). And in the process he’s become a magnetic live presence while playing out in New York, gaining the notice of discerning listeners and labels alike. February 2016 marks the much-anticipated release of Pool, his debut full-length for Domino and a major step forward for him—as an evolving singer/songwriter, and as a nascent producer. Written and recorded almost entirely in the Manhattan apartment he shares with his partner and frequent collaborator, Greta Kline a.k.a Frankie Cosmos, Pool is an elegantly drawn set of gorgeous, synth-driven pop songs that were influenced, in part, by settling in the city as an artist and a person. “I’m feeling like I’m in a more permanent situation than I’ve been in before,” he says. “There is something special about recording at home. It’s why it sounds the way it does. Being able to obsess over it on your own time and being in your own little cube knowing you’re surrounded by the city, being able to go so deep into it and to spend hours building it, loving it: all of that allowed me to reflect and focus on things a little closer.”

The album was recorded twice - the first time a crash-course in learning Logic and navigating his first synthesizers and drum machines, the second time starting from scratch with a better hold on the recording process - and eventually mixed by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Tobias Jesso Jr.) in his Los Angeles studio. Sometime in 2014, Maine, a long-devoted Neil Young fan, began listening to house and electronic music and contemporary pop music more closely and frequently than he ever had before. What followed is a hypnotic and expansive re-articulation of the melancholy we’ve come to expect, from the pristine harmonies of “Hour” to the undulating R&B of “Underwater” to the Auto-tuned majesty of the title track. “I feel like the lyrics are like mood boards or collages of my experience in New York,” he says. “Rather than focusing on a particular incident or story like I have in the past, I wanted to be more abstract, in order to paint a very specific mood: ideas of lightness and darkness, water, air, movement, acceptance and security.” The result is a sophisticated and fully immersive listening experience, with Maine’s voice at its center. “I’m getting a little older and a little more in touch with my emotions,” he adds. “I just wanted to make this album more positive and to make sure that my message was coming across clearly this time. I never wanted my music to bum people out. I feel like I naturally gravitate towards the more melancholic experiences in life, but this time around I tried to dissect those moments and somehow extract what was so beautiful about them to me. With this record, I want people to feel something different, something subtler. I want people to feel dark, beautiful and strong when they hear this new record. I want people to put it on at a party and go wild, to put it on just walking or driving around. I want them to fall in love to this record.”
Your Friend
Your Friend
Since the release of her debut self-recorded EP, Jekyll/Hyde, in early 2014 via Domino, Taryn Miller has experienced many firsts as an artist – her first tour (with Courtney Barnett), her first SXSW (in 2014, in support of the EP release), and her first time working in a proper studio with a producer. And now, the 24-year-old who resides in Lawrence, KS and makes music under the moniker Your Friend, begins the process of another first – the release of her debut full length album, Gumption, out March 2016.
Before recording Gumption, Miller searched for the right sonic touchstones for her full length. She struggled initially with the evolution of her sound, calling her EP “raw and innocent”, and was concerned with how to write newer material, while being conscious of a platform that could be wider reaching. Miller asked herself: How are you able to identify what is genuine to you and not under the guise of the potential to have a larger audience? After making calls to close friends, and even reaching out via email to the avant-garde composer William Basinski for advice, Miller took direction from perhaps an unlikely source – her former high school teacher, who simply said: ““Art is just where you are now. Where are you right now?” Miller used this simple maxim as the basis to start recording.
Miller began writing the songs that would become Gumption at her studio space and apartment in Lawrence, KS after returning from touring in mid-2014. As a part of the album’s process, Miller acquired a field recorder that she used to explore sound from a familiar place. She took it to her family farm in Dexter, KS and drove around, dipping her senses into childhood nostalgia. If you listen closely, you may be able to identify a few of these noises on Gumption - creek water and engine noise (on ‘To Live With’), the wings of pigeons on the walls of their cages (‘Who Will I Be…’).
Gumption builds on the ideas of Jekyll/Hyde, dealing with the dualities and nuances of human interaction, and questioning how much we, as individuals, are responsible for in the ways we are perceived. Jekyll/Hyde came from a place of, “how am I being affected,” while Gumption takes that and says, “how am I affecting?” Recording with producer Nicolas Vernhes (The War on Drugs, Deerhunter) at the Rare Book Room in Brooklyn helped Your Friend fulfill a penchant for drones, loops and found sounds. “I paid attention to textures,” Miller says. “I was trying to remove myself from an approach that I had followed before, but to be able to bring in that melodic element that is most inherent to me, and marry it with a more sonically meditative landscape.”
The album opens with “Heathering,” a brooding track Miller had been working on long before entering the studio. The opening acoustic guitar sample was something that Vernhes had caught before she knew they were tracking. It was left as somewhat of a playful placeholder initially, but then ultimately became an endearing and important part of the opening.
“Come Back From It,” was composed of salvaged pieces of an almost entirely scrapped song during the demoing process. The whirling, dark, drum loop (arguably the backbone) and the crackling drone were the only original pieces of audio from the demo. Vernhes encouraged that there was something about the lurching nature of those elements that was worth pursuing. Miller already had a sense of verses, but there wasn’t a “relief,” as Vernhes said, when referring to a chorus. Vernhes sat her in the control room and played Lou Reed’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” with the both of them in silence, then said, “you have thirty minutes, go write a chorus.” After the structure was formed, Miller took on the task of creating several, separate loops for each chord in the entire song, and Vernhes collaging them and achieving an overall cinematic type of texture.
“Gumption,” came from two separate songs that worked better blended together than apart. “I really struggled with this one initially. One of the songs was more lyrically strong, while the other may have had stronger progressions.” It ended up falling together in an unexpected way, with Vernhes sampling old drum machines in order to find a percussive element that would move the song. “He really amazed me with his ability to shape them and give them an entirely new presence with his mixing and editing.”
The record closes with “Who Will I Be in the Morning,” a haunting, shimmering track that nods at those first few, rewarding seconds that come with waking - that small amount of time in between sleep and consciousness, before you can decide how you feel about anything.
“The songs on the EP were coming from the lens I was looking through. Now, the lens is flipped around and facing me,” Miller says about her songwriting for Gumption. Thematically, the album deals with growing pains that come from self-inducing this sense of quiet that can be uncomfortably revealing. “I was sitting with myself so much, I got to know myself in ways I liked and ways I didn’t like,” Miller admits. Gumption is a record of courage, as its title suggests - of having the willingness to make necessary shifts, and to have a sense of self-awareness that ultimately leads to growth.
Venue Information:
The Middle East Downstairs
472 Massachussetts Ave
Cambridge, MA, 02139
http://www.mideastclub.com/