Matt Pond

Matt Pond has already accomplished what fewrarely do. A career musician with a die-hard following that continues to grow with each album, and a resume that includes the title song for a motion picture soundtrack, a long running Starbucks holiday commercial with a hook that's always stuck in our heads, selling over 100,000 albums to date; his success is matched only by his prolific outpouring of talent. But Matt takes those things with a grain of salt, in 'Lives' he shows us what's really important.

With the new album, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, Matt Pond is stepping forward with striking honesty and humbling optimism and delivers his strongest work to date. And with this transformative record comes some distinct changes- removing the 'PA' that has accompanied his name for nearly a decade, his first official 'solo' release, and partnering with new label and longtime publishing partner, BMG.

Matt Pond is able to slough off the dead skin, radiantly revealinghimself in his purest form- a feat many artists strive for, but rarely accomplish. The change symbolizes more than just coming out as an official solo act, it is also perhaps a symbol of letting go. Letting go of the places he's called home; he no longer belongs to Pennsylvania, or Brooklyn, or even thecabin in Bearsville, he is distinctly free from any earthly chains and whatremains is just Matt Pond. His final frontier is to "run wild within our clear blue minds" ('Human Beings'). The graceful departure gives Matt Pond both the freedom from, and acceptance of the limitations of being alive. The result is 'The Lives Inside the Lines in your Hand'.

'Lives' is an upbeat antidote to the pessimistic shift in the collective consciousness. It's an ode to the bittersweet reality that we are human, we are finite, and we are flawed. But in each song on this album, Matt Pond sources the beauty in all of it, even when it's not pretty, and delivers an indie rock album that's brimming with authenticity; Pond captures the sentiment perfectly in "Starlet": 'I know I know there's so much I don't know'. The album's first single "Love to Get Used", is a notably playful departure from what we've seen before. "Let's hang on to abandon and hope we lose control" Pond insists in the uptempo indie-pop track, "to be out in the open baby and let go of the ropes".

…And let go, he does. In a free-fall of spirit, Matt gets to the core of his own humanity, and we can't help but listen intently to see what he finds, because after all, it can sometimes be a frightening journey, a risk many of us aren't willing to take. "Hole in My Heart" strips down the frivolities and formalities that water down most songs about heartbreak, leaving us with a chillingly accurate, almost childlike description of the pain it causes, and a glimpse into the places he's stumbled in his own journey, when, as he puts it, "with eyes closed we dove into unknown". In the end, "The Lives Inside the Lines in your Hand" is a triumph against the paltry conditions we've all been forced to reckon with as a society. When times are tough though, art flourishes, and 'Lives' is ademonstration in how Pond is transcended by his art. "Someday I'll stop breathing," he says, "but I'll never stop singing."

Ex Cops – Daggers
Out October 2014 via Downtown Records

Ex Cops, a nomadic duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, brings the hook-heavy blast of ‘90s alt-rock into a new era on their second album Daggers. Executive produced by icon-of-form Billy Corgan and produced by Justin Raisen (Sky Ferriera, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue), the record rescues guitar-pop from the bedroom, returning it to the stage it deserves.

Formed in 2011, the group’s first album True Hallucinations, released in early 2013, was a critically-acclaimed collection of sprawling indie-pop. From the exuberant “Spring Break (Birthday Song)” to the band’s dreamy debut “You Are A Lion, I Am A Lamb,” the John Siket-produced record (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo) was a genre-jumping opening salvo and its wall-to-wall guitars set the tone for their new album.

Daggers is a musical about-face, though. “We are not afraid of our favorite music anymore,” says Harding. “It’s pop.”

Billy Corgan, in addition to sharing the band’s love of ABBA and taking them to their first wrestling match, provided form and texture to the new tracks over a two-week period in Chicago. The band then took the material to LA for tracking with Raisen and continued collaborating with artists like Ariel Pink, who co-wrote “Burnt Out Love” and features on “Tragically Alright.”

The result reinvents modern rock. “White Noise,” with its addictive chorus, merges guitars that could make your teeth ache and a motorik electronic pop pulse. The impeccably-produced “Teenagers” brings club-ready downtown pop to an anthemic peak, while “Black Soap” shifts shoegaze textures to stadium status and “Rooms,” one of the album’s emotionally-resonant ballads, packs a substantial punch.

1. Black Soap
2. White Noise
3. Teenagers
4. Daggers
5. Pretty Shitty
6. Burnt Out Love
7. Modern World
8. Wanna Be (feat. L.P.)
9. Tragically Alright (feat. Ariel Pink)
10. Rooms
11. Weird With You

Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson was born and raised on Long Island into a family of mariners and music makers. She spent many of her younger days on the sugar barges of NY harbor with her father and uncles, who all made their living on the water, at one time running one of the largest fleets on the Hudson. Meanwhile, her mother’s parents were successful musicians; Harry Simeone, the composer and choral arranger responsible for such works as “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Margaret McCravy (stage name McCrae), a singer from South Carolina who got her start accompanying her elder siblings “The McCravy Brothers,” a harmonious gospel folk duo, before continuing on her own to record and tour with bandleader Benny Goodman. Armed with her grandfather’s love for modernist dissonance, a genetic predisposition for harmony, and with her sea legs firmly planted in the traditions of American folk singing, Stevenson began creating melodies at a very young age. “My mom would find me in my room, looking out the window, out at the street, singing by myself, sometimes crying,” she laughs, “I was a weird kid.”

At around five Stevenson began playing piano by ear, and at that point her mother decided lessons were a sound investment for the young musician. In High School between going to punk shows every weekend, she spent her afternoons singing in four different choral groups, exploring a growing love for acapella. “Big time nerd stuff,” as she recalls, lamenting that there wasn’t a show like Glee around to validate her when she was in the thick of it. Hundreds of hours of extra-curricular singing combined with a natural talent has no doubt paid dividends when it comes to Stevenson’s powerful vocals. The confidence and precision with which she unabashedly sings out on record and on stage stands in sharp contrast with the reflective uncertainty and isolation that comes through in her lyrics.

Though Stevenson began writing classically on piano early on, it wasn’t until her late teens that she taught herself how to fingerpick the guitar, aspiring to have the quickness and intricacy of her “guitar god,” Dolly Parton. The new instrument opened up a window of creativity and Stevenson soon began writing songs heavily influenced by the writers her father had raised her on, such as Neil Young, Gram Parsons, and Carole King, while also drawing inspiration from music that she discovered on her own like Leonard Cohen, and Jeff Mangum. Meanwhile, leaving her comfort zone, Stevenson started playing in friends’ bands in and around Long Island, a time that she says, “taught me how to be on tour, how to give and take with other musicians, and not be afraid of my own ideas.” With a new found confidence and a solid and supportive community of creative people behind her, Stevenson moved to Brooklyn in her early 20s and soon started performing her own material, loosely assembling a backing band of friends from other projects. In 2010, she released her bare-bones full-length debut simply entitled, A Record, which she quickly followed the year after with Sit Resist, the first solid document of her work playing with a full band. Those two albums and a healthy amount of touring brought Stevenson a dedicated fan base, drawn to her voice, her words, and her relatable down-to-earth persona.

While writing the 13 songs that make-up her newest record, Wheel, Stevenson sought to understand her place within the frame of time, nature, and among those that she loves. With her words, a careful twine of prose and humor, Stevenson manages to expose the nagging contradictions that make life so terrifying but also so worth living, how it is possible to simultaneously feel both fear and joy, the bitter aftertaste of something so beautiful it makes you sick. Themes of passage, the cycle of the moon, the seasons, and love’s ever-shifting states of dependence, are all interwoven throughout Wheel as songs ebb and flow from her band’s crashing walls of distortion and pounding drums, to sweet string-led overtures, to moments where it is just Stevenson and a guitar.

In recording Wheel, Stevenson decided to up the production value, steering away from the lo-fi approach of her previous two albums. Forcing herself to fully give-in to the recording process, and relinquish some of creative control she enlisted producer, Kevin McMahon, someone whose work she respected immensely and who would, as she put it, “be the perfect set of ears for these songs.” She also brought in Rob Moose on violin and Kelly Pratt to play brass, adding their own layers of depth to the band’s full arrangements. Despite the move to sleeker production, Wheel retains its organic nature, relying primarily on the resonance of acoustic instruments and the electricity of simply over-driven amplifiers, with its most synthetic moment coming from a Roland organ, an unconscious decision that Stevenson explains as her and her band’s way of “being real, relying on each other’s energy to keep time and just playing the songs like human beings, flaws and all.

Tickets Available at the Door

FREE download to Matt Pond's EP, 'Hole in My Heart.' https://soundcloud.com/mattpondpa/sets/hole-in-my-heart-ep/s-IoTzH $10 at the door. Cash Only.

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Brooklyn Bowl

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Matt Pond with Ex Cops, Laura Stevenson

Thursday, July 25 · Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Brooklyn Bowl

Tickets Available at the Door