Brad Armstrong, Orenda Fink
901 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
This event is 21 and over
Maria Taylor’s Something About Knowing beckons with the opening track “Folk Song Melody,” a mesmerizing acoustic-with-celestial-atmospherics composition crafted around a wordless singsong passage that’s instantly familiar. “That section says everything without words and the rest of the record fills in the emotions,” she says. And the emotions brimming on the album are bliss and contentment. On the title track, with a molasses flow, Maria names her blessings from the diurnal to the divine. Here she sings: “I got you/I got me/I heard the sweetest voice call me mommy/got my old 5 string/I’ve got everything.” The music is balmy with a sweetly swaying groove, angelic backup vocals, gospel organs, and a shooting star guitar melody. The stunning “Tunnel Vision” is expansive and chiming pop with a lose-yourself-on-the-dance-floor beat.
Something About Knowing‘s spirit of “coming home with confidence” extends from Maria’s personal and artistic peacefulness to the team she picked to surround herself with while making this album. She enlisted producer Mike Mogis, an essential creative foil on her first two records. Her brother Macey Taylor played bass on every song as well as keyboards and piano. And her old high school music pal Brad Armstrong co-wrote, played on, and recorded two tracks in his garage. “There we were back in his garage, only now we both had kids running around, it was really special,” Maria says. Longtime friend and collaborator Andy LeMaster mixed these two songs. Additionally, Maria recorded the track “This Is It” with Lester Nuby, and Daniel Farris – two trusted companions she worked with on her last two records – at home in Birmingham, Alabama.
Maria Taylor has released four solo albums and an EP, and has been lauded for her collaborations with artists such as Bright Eyes, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Moby, David Barbe (Sugar, Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt), and Crooked Fingers.
Brad Armstrong was a principal songwriter and producer of the critically successful and financially disastrous band 13ghosts, which released 6 full length albums between 2002 and 2012 with Birmingham-based Skybucket Records and Atlanta-based This Is American Music. He has been a contributing member of the Dexateens from 2008 to the present.
In 2014 Armstrong moved his family to the Hudson Valley and finished mixing the record he had written and tracked in Birmingham. “Empire” features a lead vocal and harmonies by Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray) and was released by Cornelius Chapel Records in 2016. It had syncs on ABC’s “Nashville” and Audience Network’s “Kingdom” (starring Nick Jonas), including a prominent callback at the open of the Kindom’s series finale. Cornelius Chapel Records reissued a remixed and remastered Empire on vinyl in August 2018.
Armstrong is at work on his sophomore solo release, titled “I Got No Place Remembers Me”, to be released by CCR in early 2019.
Throughout her time with Azure Ray and over the course of her solo career, Orenda Fink has never shied from exploring the darker edges of spirituality and the human condition. On her debut solo album Invisible Ones, Orenda explored traditional Haitian ritual and mysticism. She then followed that up with an examination of the Southern Gothic subconscious on Ask the Night. Needless to say, death has been visible in much of her music. On her latest album, Blue Dream, she looks deeply at the subject, reflecting upon a year-long meditation on death that started with a dog named Wilson and the words of Laurie Anderson.
"Just look at yesterday, and what you were doing, and how important it was, and how nonexistent it is now! How dreamlike it is! Same thing with tomorrow. So where are we living? Tibetans have unbelievably fascinating answers to that. This is what I'm studying because my dog died." -Laurie Anderson
Orenda was sent this quote by her friend Nina Barnes after Wilson, Orenda's dog of 16 years, died. That year she found herself on a deeply personal search for the meaning of death. Pieces of answers, coded in riddle, came to her in dreams. Her dreams began to tell a story - about life and death and the afterlife, reality, and the fine line between the conscious and subconscious world.
She then spent the next year understanding the experience and filtering it through the musical inspirations of Smog, Violetta Parra, and Kate Bush to craft Blue Dream. The album truly came together at ARC in Omaha, NE with the help of producers Ben Brodin and Todd Fink (The Faint), along with drummer Bill Rieflin (Ministry, Swans, R.E.M., King Crimson).
Lead single "Ace of Cups" starts the album off by using the Tarot symbol of attunement and spirituality to explore the interconnectedness with the world and humanity that even death cannot undo. The haunting "Holy Holy" examines them directly with lines "We come into this world all alone/and we leave with not much more" and "I lay in bed/collect all my dreams/then I pay/someone to read them to me/the simple ones are just as they seem/but open your eyes/and they say so much more." Whereas "All Hearts Will Beat Again" displays ideas Orenda came to understand upon reflection in lines "It's a sign in the eyes/something in your smile/it's a nod and a wave from the darkness/but our hearts will beat again/and the love we gave will come back/but i don't know where or when."
Writing the album allowed Orenda to contemplate the experiences that precipitated it and explore new perspectives gained over the past year. This process left her with the belief that we can only be truly healed if we find our "interior God." How do you find your interior God? There are many ways, but she believes one of them is through dreams. Dreams being the closest way to have a direct experience with the all-knowing past, present, and future.