The Ocean Blue (10pm set time), Incan Abraham, Soft Swells

The Ocean Blue

The Ocean Blue‘s debut record on the famed Sire Records label in 1989 achieved widespread acclaim and radio & MTV airplay. The band of four young high schoolers from Hershey, Pennsylvania went on to do two more well-received records for Sire, the atmospheric Cerulean and alt pop Beneath the Rhythm and Sound, and a fourth record for Mercury/PolyGram, See The Ocean Blue, before leaving the majors in the late 90s. The band did several independent releases in the 2000s, including Davy Jones Locker and Waterworks, and within the last several years began working on a new full length record, their first in over 10 years. That record, entitled Ultramarine, is scheduled for release March 19, 2013 on Korda Records, a new Minneapolis cooperative label that the band helped launch in late 2012.

Ultramarine is a spectacular return to form that recalls the band’s earliest work, and should appeal to fans old and new alike.

On the title, singer/songwriter David Schelzel explains, "We chose Ultramarine to reflect several things. The mood of this record is a little blue, and harkens back to our other "blue" record, Cerulean. It's also a fun play on our name, and we were very conscious of our history as a band making this record. Thinking about our music, what it's meant to us and others. Asking a lot of existential questions about the band, what it was, is, and could be in the future."

Ultramarine was recorded in Minneapolis, MN, Portland, OR, and Mt Gretna, PA over several years, with Schelzel and drummer Peter Anderson producing. "This record unfolded in slow motion,” says Schelzel, “At a glacial pace. We were not on the clock we were when we were on the major labels. And we were not in an insulated studio world for months making the music. We made it mostly in our own studios, on our own time. Regular life drifted into this one more than our earlier records.”

Music recording and distribution, and the social networks of the Web have changed the landscape completely since the band’s last full length. Says Anderson, “We are using gear and technology on the recording side that for the most part didn’t exist when the band was making big budget studio records in the 90s. It’s allowed us to do a lot of things we’d never been able to do years ago, all at a much cheaper cost. We also have the ability to connect with people directly via the Web that wasn’t really there when we did our last release."

Musically, the new record is a return to form for the band. As well as a new beginning. Lyrically it is romantic, melancholic and impressionistic. The melodic singing, chimey guitars and lush keyboards the band is known for weave their way through the songs. Even the saxophone has returned on the opening track. But it is a record full of music that sounds very of the moment.

"It's an interesting time for us to be putting out a new record. So much of the music we see and hear now reminds me of things I loved growing up," say guitarist Oed Ronne. "My friends in their twenties like The Smiths and New Order. It's a strange thing, but good for us I think. We'd love to reconnect with our old fans, but also make new ones among the ranks of the young."

"I'm really looking forward to sharing this new music with people who know us and people who’ve never heard us before. And play some shows," says bass player Bobby Mittan. "It's been way too long."

Incan Abraham consists of two pairs of childhood friends, who parted ways, and then reunited. Teddy moved to New York in high school, but when he visited LA in early 2009, we decided to brave the coastal disparity, and form a band.

We convened in Rhinebeck, NY for a month that summer, to record our first EP in a house there. Then, in the autumn of that year, Teddy moved out West, so the project could continue. It's been all fun since then.

Soft Swells

You know, not every band born on the sunny shores of the west coast winds up sounding like the Beach Boys. Take for instance the indie-pop surf-inspired Soft Swells. Named after the smaller, smoother waves Tim Williams (the singer/songwriter behind the LA based band) looks for when he is surfing, Soft Swells is an upbeat, poppier take on indie music. You could attribute Tim “falling in love and finding true happiness” as the reason for the hopeful slant on his newest release, an EP entitled Lifeboats. Perhaps you are already familiar with the song and EP, as they have been featured in a recent nationwide ad campaign for Best Buy (if you skip fast-forwarding commercials on the TiVO once in a while, you’d be amazed what you can learn). Mostly recorded in Tim’s Los Feliz apartment and producer Dave Lynch’s studio in Lewes, England (as well as some pick-up sessions in Hollywood and Ann Arbor, MI) Soft Swells recordings are achieved by Tim and Dave “sending parts back and forth.” Sure Tim does all of the writing, but this puddle jumping collaboration works amazingly well for the band. Tim creates the songs, then off to Dave for some sound rounding-out and polish. The new EP features a remix of the original “Lifeboats” track by Jon Visger (Absofacto, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), a few more original tunes and even a cover of T-Rex’s “Children of a Revolution.”

Having released three solo albums with NYC based Dovecote Records, Tim wasn’t sure what he would do next with his music when circumstances moved him from NY to Nashville to his current place in LA. Without a band in mind, he started writing songs again, and after playing them for Chip and Erin Adams at Modern Outsider, was convinced that he should head into the recording studio. In February of 2012 Soft Swells released their first album to the acclaim of everyone from MTV to TIME magazine and USA Today to Consequence of Sound. Influenced by the Brit-pop he loved growing up (Definitely Maybe was the first album that hit him in the chest) his obvious love of melodies, hooks and sentiment shine through with each track. Soft Swells plays to consistently packed houses in LA with an incredible live band featuring Kyle Frederickson, Matt Mayhall and Christopher Pappas that brings to life the meticulous studio sound perfected by Tim and Dave. And keep an eye out (or two if you can spare ‘em) for the video for “Lifeboats,” directed by Anthony Garth and featuring O’Neill surf team member Bree Kleintop.

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has said “once the music leaves your head it’s already compromised.” That’s fine if you feel like music is an entirely personal endeavor for the artist. Tim certainly doesn’t feel that way. “I don’t think a song or recording is completed until it hits someone’s ears… The experience is only complete when a listener gives their input – a smile, a head nodding or whatever reaction a person has.”

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The Ocean Blue (10pm set time), Incan Abraham, Soft Swells

Sunday, May 19 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM at The Satellite