Tactics Productions Presents
The Besnard Lakes, Suuns
2720 Elm St.
Dallas, TX, 75226
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM (event ends at 11:55 PM)
Watch & Listen
Black Mountain doesn't have a creation myth, or not exactly: "Most of us were found standing 'round parties wearing similar T-shirts or shoes and nodding our heads to something cool on the stereo," Stephen McBean explains. "Others were heard from behind walls but never seen 'til years later. You share a smoke, do a shot then end up in a van together for what seems like the rest of your life."
In the late 1990s, Vancouver wasn't particularly renowned for its raucous, all-encompassing psych-rock scene. "Just like everywhere else, Vancouver's music scene has had its 'up' years, followed by its 'down' years," Matt Camirand says. "When a city is in a musical honeymoon everyone goes to shows, more places start having shows, more people start bands, etc. Soon it's too much of a good thing, people begin to take it for granted and eventually it all dies out like the dinosaurs. I think when Black Mountain started, Vancouver was near the end of a musical honeymoon."
That lack of sonic spirit, however disheartening, led to a certain kind of aesthetic freedom. It helped birth a sound swampy, psychedelic, ecstatic, wild unlike much else in the indie-rock universe. "The complete indifference here to rock music in general at least at the time of our formation, it's a bit different now made us completely unselfconscious about what we were doing," Josh Wells adds. "Nobody gave a shit, so we weren't making music for any people in particular."
From those dank basement parties, Black Mountain came together organically vocalist Amber Webber was borrowed from another outfit and recruited for a 2003 tour, Jeremy Schmidt, Wells' downstairs roommate, was assimilated based on the strength of his "solo synth-scape/space rock," which according to Wells, "blew their minds" and churned out a handful of striking lo-fi recordings. In 2005, on the strength of those tracks, Black Mountain signed to Jagjaguwar and released its acclaimed eponymous debut. "The band was really just being born during the making of the first record," Schmidt says. A follow-up, In the Future, arrived to critical adulation and copious Devil-horning in early 2008.
A little over a year later, Black Mountain's third LP, Wilderness Heart, was built on the west coast of America, in part at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, but predominantly at Sunset Sound, a former automotive repair shop in Hollywood that began as an outpost for Disney (songs for Bambi, Mary Poppins, and 101 Dalmations were laid to tape there) before it went rock n'roll, capturing tracks from The Doors, Ringo Starr, the Rolling Stones, and more. L.A. with its tacos and sunsets, starlets and hills and post-Deco kitsch was a considerable inspiration. "Just being under the influence of one's surroundings, as we were while recording in L.A., had a tremendous impact on the process and the way we play. Consequently, the LA sessions have a free and summery vibe. The Seattle sessions, made in the grey, rainy environs that we're used to up there, have a chillier, more claustrophobic feeling," Wells explains.
"Shacking up in Sunset Sound for a few days put a smile on everyone's face," McBean says. "We were definitely spoiled more this time 'round as far being able to plug into a lot of pretty historical gear. There's something about playing an old Martin or Gibson and thinking 'bout how many hands have strummed it and all the songs written on 'em," he continues. "You can't put 'em down you want to continue the lineage."
The new record is packed with succinct rock songs that pulse and pound with startling precision: it pummels you, you ask for more. Wilderness Heart is arguably Black Mountain's tightest, most concentrated outing, but there's still plenty of raw rock energy at work. "It's our most metal and most folk oriented record so far," McBean says. "I'm not gonna say it our best record or the album that we always dreamt of making 'cause that's what everyone says. It's all about where we were at the time the machines were rolling. You can't control the electricity or how your limbs were moving that day. You have to erase the visions and just go along for the ride."
"It's a Black Mountain pop record, which is to say it's nothing like pop at all," Wells says. "This was the fastest record we've ever made. We're used to spending a lot of time deliberating over the songs and spacing out recording sessions over years. Start to finish, this album was made in four months, which is something like a miracle for us. We've never worked with producers before and that was a challenge; for us to let go and let two outsiders into the process, D. Sardy and Randall Dunn it took some growing for us to be truly open, but this album is all the better for it."
The band cites a slew of disparate influences New Order, King Crimson, Studio 54, Alex Chilton, sunshine, Janis Joplin, Please Kill Me, Shirley Collins, Mickey Newbury, jalapeno salsa, Night of The Hunter, Cactus Taqueria, Funky16Corners podcasts, Dennis Wilson, the house blowing up in the desert at the end of Zabriskie Point but, as Schmidt points out, "Who knows how these things connect with the holistic mix of often dissonant forces that become Black Mountain?"
Indeed: Listen and find out.
The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes' Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO had its humble beginnings in mid-2011 and was completed over the course of a year. Ever mindful and attentive to the most subtle and nuanced details, founding band members Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas produced, recorded and mixed at the stalwart Breakglass Studios in Montreal. Eventually mastered by the renowned Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, this fourth album by The Besnard Lakes' features heavyweight additions by Moonface's Spencer Krug and Mike Bigelow, The Barr Brothers' Sarah Page, the always-enchanting Monica Guenter and the return of Fifth String Liberation Singers' Choir.
The story of the album unfolds its introspection on the endurance of the human spirit during prophetic times as told by a spy or two, maybe more. Each of the eight tracks on the album takes off, coasts, and lands smoothly, with a jubilant slowburn of its own momentum for the benefit of the larger picture. The Besnard Lakes create a distinct and dreamy headspace, an enigmatic and somehow familiar placelessness. It happens in such a way that both the close and casual listener find themselves immersed in the generous sonic vision, one moment as timeless as the next.
Montreal's Suuns possess a rare trait in rock music: restraint. They use it like an instrument, which makes their debut full-length Zeroes QC as unsettling as it is wonderfully exasperating. It's immediately apparent in album opener "Armed for Peace," a track that starts off like a robot breaking down in a hot desert; the song's mechanic beat plods like iron-shoed footsteps as the melody of a wheezing synth mirrors the crackling sound of old transistors and circuitry being cooked in the sun. It's deceptively lulling, the tension almost unnoticeably wrenching up and up until the track unexpectedly opens into a barrage of nose-diving guitar riffs and crashing drums – yet the band still stays locked on the song's linear, forward-motion direction. Suuns were born during the summer of 2006 when vocalist/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush got together to make some beats which quickly evolved into a few songs. The duo were soon joined by drummer Liam O'Neill and bassist/keyboardist Max Henry to complete the line-up. "I don't think we were really a 'band' for the first year," Ben surmises. It wasn't until a friend helped them procure a spot at Pop Montreal 2007 that he says the group played their first "real gig."
Last year, Suuns entered Breakglass Studios with Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes co-producing and engineering, and recorded their first album. The group wanted to create something that couldn't be pigeonholed as simply indie rock. "Jace definitely had a huge impact for bringing to life the big sound of the band and being open and willing stretch out any idea we or he had," Ben explains.
The resulting Zeroes QC is a warm yet dark, propulsive collusion of pop, post-punk and experimental rock – one that allows the group to musically shapeshift without losing any of the sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the record. During tracks like "Gaze," tightly wound guitars and bass ring and buzz atop Liam's metronomic, powerhouse drumming, with Ben's cool, detached vocals acting as a nervy counterweight as he delivers falsely assuring lines like, "Don't you be yourself, you are someone else." Often his close-miced sing/speak is as metronomic as it is melodic; in "Arena" Ben's rhythmic "What-choo, what-choo"'s are reminiscent of Suicide's Alan Vega as he leads the band's death disco groove into a bloodbath of razor-sharp guitars, while his icy, hushed delivery in "Sweet Nothing" is almost as motorik as the song itself. Most impressive, though, is how Suuns effortlessly sculpt memorable pop songs from experimental building blocks, frequently using noise and space as actual hooks. All of this amounts to a great first album – one that is as timeless as it is thrillingly modern.
$14 Advance | $16 Day of Show