Frog Eyes / Hello Blue Roses w/ Skygreen Leopards
901 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
This event is 21 and over
Frog Eyes have made their last album. 17 years after their teetering debut, the Vancouver band unveils Violet Psalms—a giddy lament; a gnashing jubilee; a rain-drenched allocution on hope vs. horror, paradise vs. pride, Marx and Brexit and
bad acid trips. It's an ending like a beginning. "We were trying to pretend it was our first record," Carey Mercer says. This is their final record, Frog Eyes' last gasp—but the art-rockers wanted to capture the energy of a debut, the freedom you feel "when there's no expectation that anyone will actually listen." They made it at home, burrowing under the house where Mercer lives with drummer Melanie Campbell. The goal was to blot out the world, focusing on what they could grow down
there, four musicians in a basement. Could they squeeze out ten songs? Was there enough paste in the tube to squeeze out 10? "In the end there was. Which is rad." No guests, no engineers. A self-invention. Violet Psalms began with its frantic, reverb-drenched guitar, squiggling over a modulation pedal. Next Mercer and Campbell concocted the drum parts—imagining them as onomatopoeia then recording them in fragments, kickdrum by kickdrum, tom by tom, with tailored effects. "The goal was to disorientate," Mercer explains, but
also to work by instinct, gut—a cut-up of music and image, songs that coil back and kiss. The band pruned as they went, adding Terri Upton's bass parts, taking other parts away. Whereas past LPs used piano, Shyla Seller worked with shimmering synths—chords like bleeding watercolour, shadows casting on a wall. Frog Eyes' music is indebted as ever to Bowie and Byrne, to glam and sheer cacophony. But
there's some Cluster and Jon Hassell here too, and a little of Destroyer's Ken—which was being made close-by. The lyrics came last, "wedged in the spaces" after the rest had been recorded; Mercer's like a slapstick Scott Walker, a choleric Nick Cave. "All I want is a sign / all I need is a sign / that I'm sound of mind," he sings on "Don't Sleep Under the Stars". While that track is a meditation on rock'n'roll ("how tired I am of its corpse," Mercer explained, "and that I still love its little finger"), the album often tilts at even taller windmills: barbarism, socialism, late capitalism's death wish. "On A Finely Sown Sleeve" considers the thinking that led to Brexit, or to Trump—working people's hatred for each other, the oozing pathos of our pomposity. "Little Daughters" reflects on what will succeed these events—and whether our kids could save us, if they're taught the right lessons. (Mercer spends most days as a schoolteacher.) On "Itch of Summer Knees," the singer returns to his own childhood, remembering an episode when he was 13 years old, "almost homeless," an interloper at some acidheads' monstrous lakeside party. Here
and everywhere, flashes of violence graze moments of reverie—wait for "Pay For Fire", the album's magnificent closer, rhyming hardship into beauty. Even so, don't come looking for bromides. This band never made—and will never make—a
music of big choruses, primary colours. These are torn portraits, unruly canvases—feverish, ludicrous, resplendent songs—each still somehow full of kindness. Violet Psalms is as much about Frog Eyes' friendship as anything else: their time as an adventuring party, chaotic good;
Hello Blue Roses
Hello Blue Roses was formed in 2005 by Sydney Hermant and her partner Dan Bejar and houses Hermant’s written and recorded song work. A fluid enterprise, their performances have ranged from sparse duo to full band backup, and in its current formation features Hermant establishing her own ground as a solo performer, singing and playing guitar and flute, with the support of looping pedals, washy amps, and the occasional sit-in friend. Trade Winds is HBR’s third full length, following 2015’s WZO on JAZ Records, and 2008’s The Portrait is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty, on Locust Records.
With Trade Winds, on JAZ Records, Hermant offers meshes of enviro psych femme, experimental pop, laid back art rock, and minimal electronica, each track inhabiting its own mood, or a different planet from the last, creating a tight and compelling unexpected bouquet of sounds. The songs include love letters between flowering trees nourished, supported and narrated by their composting elder, postcards from time traveling poetess lovers, the psychosis of climate change denial as cajoled from the analyst’s couch, the muck we are in, and the difficulty communicating collective grief.
Trade Winds was written by Sydney Hermant (except for the track Love Goes On by Grant McLennan and Robert Forster), recorded by David Carswell at JCDC Studios, and produced by David Carswell, Sydney Hermant and Dan Bejar, with added production by Steve Wood at IHOJ studios. David also played killer bass and resonant twelve string guitar all over this record, and Dan laid down vibraphone and synth as well as some tambourine. Jason Zumpano (fearless leader behind JAZ) played drums and organ, and Steve played all sorts of machines producing the track Mausoleum. Sydney did the singing, flauting, electric guitar and piano playing. Jen Weih helped with the cover and layout and made the drawing on the label. Gloria Bejar made the drawing on the insert.
These songs were written and recorded on the Un-ceded Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh People in what is currently known as Vancouver. Summer Tour 2018 supporting Frog Eyes constitutes Hello Blue Roses first ever tour in the U.S