Chris Cohen, Johnny Fantastic, Fellow Creatures
2477 18th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
As If Apart, the long-awaited sequel to Chris Cohen's 2012 soft psych garden of unearthly alter-pop earworms and studio-sonic delights Overgrown Path, follows on its predecessor with another bittersweet ensemble of dreamy, complex songs. Pushing the idiosyncrasies of Cohen's melodic and rhythmic approach into even more fractured, shifting spaces, As If Apart unsettles lazy pop conventions, upending jaded heads and hearts with an expansive, moody psychedelia. Where Overgrown Path plunged within, As If Apart voyages out. And up.
Sometimes as a leader, sometimes as a sideman and collaborator; sometimes as an invisible musician but you've heard him: the chest-high bass drum thump, the tightly paired flight of guitars in odd harmony, the disorienting shift in time and texture that resolves itself into song. Chris Cohen has plied the inside and outside folds of pop musical possibility since at least 1978, when he first set infant drumstick to skin at the tender age of three, initiating decades of sonic experimentation across multiple bands and nearly a dozen recordings.
Cohen's songwriting isn't so much disjunctive as subjunctive, asking "what if," playing against the expected and building suspense, breaking like waves or the patterns at the edges of things. Chris makes music with the patience of a gardener: he went out and collected a backyard's worth of thorny succulents, took them home and cultivated them like so. They are modular plants – cut one little piece, stick it in the ground, give it time. Come back and find it branching, breaking and replanting itself into tangle and form. You notice yourself changed too.
To say that this is how pop music should have turned out would be nostalgic — a misapprehension of time, pop, history and our place within those structures — what we could say is that this is how pop music has turned out alongside itself –how it has become beside itself – as if apart.
Part circuit-bending weirdos, part self-deluding pop stars, Fellow Creatures emerged from the remains of the beloved Ugly Purple Sweater in late 2014 and quickly became known as one of Washington, DCʼs most distinctive and compelling live bands. Centered on the deft vocal harmonizing and genre-blurring songwriting of Sam McCormally and Will McKindley-Ward, Fellow Creatures makes an impression with their layered, intricate arrangements and propulsive rhythm section. The band's eclectic, physical sensibility has earned comparisons with the Talking Heads and Yeasayer. Fellow Creature's first two singles, Allies and Seance (Shuka), released in early 2015, offer taste of the band's debut album, produced by Louis Weeks and engineered by Chris Freeland (Lower Dens).