The Soft Pack

“The Soft Pack? Like, cigarettes?”

Well, no…not quite. The Soft Pack are a group of Southern Californian gentlemen looking to make a racket that lies somewhere in-between post-punk and post-Warren Zevon. How would you describe their music? Ask the guys themselves, and they might have simply said “rock ‘n roll” at the time. Labels are boring though; onto the good stuff:

Starting in 2007, with Matt Lamkin (guitar/lead vox) and Matty McLoughlin (lead guitar) taking the helm, the band started a buzz early on while playing house parties, dive bars, and anywhere else possible in San Diego. By the following year, David Lantzman (Bass), and Brian Hill (Drums) had joined, rounding out the line-up and keeping things tidy. The guys spent a lot of time hanging out in the van that year, listening to way too much Steely Dan when nobody else at the party would hang out with them. In search of day jobs and a change of scenery, they moved to Los Angeles. Then things started picking up more and more. Plans were hatched, records were pressed, many tours were played, band names were switched, and their lives got quite busy for quite a while.

2010 was the group’s last major statement, with the release of The Soft Pack (Kemado, produced by Eli Janney) full-length. Singles like “Answer to Yourself” and “C’mon” helped them gain wider attention. They spent much of that year on tour, playing with Kurt Vile & the Violaters, Male Bonding, Nodzzz, just to name a few. They appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman–followed by many enthusiastic phone calls to parents. A handful of trips overseas to Europe and Australia happened. Then they came home…life had become a blur. It was time to slow down a bit. They started working out, going to bed earlier, eating their vegetables, and now here they stand…a little older, with a few more wrinkles on the brain.

Since that time, they have been locked away without much sunlight, toiling and writing, and doing their damnedest to focus on writing the best follow-up they can. Choosing to travel down the self-produced road this time around, they are determined more than ever to create exactly the sort of record that they would buy themselves. This is indeed good news. While tinges of the fuzzy, garage-y element remains, the overall sound has expanded to “practice the weird”, as Lamkin once said. Their collection of guitar pedals has grown. They like to switch instruments. They like to buy drum machines and listen to disco. They really like Funkadelic and Sly Stone. Only some of them still like to work out though.

The new album, Strapped, is due in September, 2012 on Mexican Summer. Things have been quiet for the time being, but for The Soft Pack, this feels like a new beginning. They can hardly wait to make a racket; get quite busy again.

Devon Williams

Devon Williams performs a shimmering pop music that tempers sweetness and bliss with an honest, unguarded perspective. Williams' music is informed by his broad musical knowledge and diverse tastes; while the past echoes through his tunes, his song-writing skills, strong musical voice and arrangement/production prowess mark him as a truly unique talent on the scene. The past can be a window on the present, and Williams' distinctive blend of power-pop, orchestrated soft-rock, folk-rock and lush, layered jangle-pop takes full flight on Euphoria, his new album.

Euphoria presents an homage to things romantic and rare. A powerful and catchy set of songs matched with a more intricate and layered production than his 2008 debut solo album Carefree, Euphoria retains a uniform feel though it was recorded and mixed in several studios by producers like NYC's Jorge Elbrecht (from the excellent Violens) and Vancouver's Dave Carswell, who also produced Williams' onetime touring mate, Destroyer. From the gushing crescendo of "Slight Pain" to the trance-like state of "Dreaming," the album's vast emotional landscape embodies the tough-minded/tender-hearted spirit that animates Williams' live performances. The 12 songs on Euphoria live in a dizzy head space of quiet desperation, progressing from the loving and warm "Revelations" to complacency in "Sufferer," then back to the optimistic "Right Direction" directly into the claustrophobic, pounding chorus of "How is There Always Room?"

Lush and layered, Williams chooses this colorful world to make light of dark thoughts. First single "Your Sympathy" is a perfect illustration – a gorgeous, rolling jangle-infused tune that wraps romantic resignation in the stateliest of melodies. Songs like "Favor Tree" and "All My Living Goes To You" continue with this theme, heady meditations on the heart set against lovely musical backings that would make any fan of Felt or The Church swoon. This is Williams' statement of musical intent and he's been carefully crafting and tweaking the songs for maximum effect, building them up and then paring them back down to find the ideal balance of immediacy and depth, of melodic richness and lyrical concision. Euphoria is Williams' finest record yet, a very personal work of great beauty that is as thought-provoking as it is musically intoxicating.

ROSES is the brand new jangly dreampop project of Juan Velasqeuz from Abe Vigoda (& friends). For fans of (The Stone) Roses, mid-period Felt and other early creation catalogue jangly things...

$10.00 - $12.00

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The Soft Pack with Devon Williams, Roses

Thursday, June 27 · 8:30 PM at The Echo