Little Green Cars

Little Green Cars

Few of us make much out of the endless weekend hours we spend together when we're young. Draping ourselves throughout our friends' houses and airing out the angst and dreams and heartbreaks that will shape us before they fade away with time, we may make mixtapes, or weave friendship bracelets, or simply craft inside jokes and rosy memories to cherish in years down the line. But for Dublin folk rock quintet Little Green Cars, those Sunday afternoons may have built the most important adventure they'll ever take.
The band - now a quintet of 20-year-olds with a habit of waxing deadly serious about their ever-expanding ambitions - convened in 2008 in a bungalow in Stevie Appleby's parents' backyard for as ordinary a reason as any: as the frontman admits sheepishly, they wanted to win a battle of the bands competition. With guitarist Adam O'Regan and bassist Donagh O'Leary friends since primary school, and the rest having met in secondary, the five rehearsed for the gig, at which they promptly lost out to another local band.
The defeat, however, was surprisingly fuel enough. It inspired them to work harder, to work through their remaining two years of school, during which they produced a massive catalog of demo recordings, blending acoustic and electronic, classical and punk, djembe drums and synth strings.
Then, in 2010, not long before graduation, then-rising manager Daniel Ryan found them at one of their sparse live gigs. With just one client already under his wing, he approached the quintet with a terrifying yet exhilarating ultimatum: Do you want to go to university, or do you want to really be in a band?
"That was the first time we considered looking that far ahead," says guitarist/vocalist/primary songwriter Faye O'Rourke. "We were trying to avoid thinking about the future because of the prospect of college, but..."
The choice became obvious.
"Stevie and I never did anything in school. Ever, ever, ever," says O'Regan, only half-joking. "Certainly, we put all our eggs in one basket. People always teach you that you've got to have something to fall back on, but we figured, by that logic, if we put everything into music, it can't fail. So, that's what we did."
And like that, they dove in. For two years they redoubled their efforts, crafting a wide-eyed musical narrative that mirrored their evolution as an ensemble until, inevitably, label suitors began to knock. In 2011, they signed to Glassnote, where they've been quietly boiling down those demos into an album - the first they've ever recorded.
"The main thing I want to hear out of an artist I admire is the truth," says Appleby. "How they really felt. If I'm going to say something, it may as well be the truth."
The lengths to which Appleby, O'Rourke and the rest of the band will go to tell that truth have yet to reveal their depth, but a full-steam-ahead debut record is a good place to start: finally, five years' worth of backyard Garage Band tracks have a name: Absolute Zero.
The songs of Absolute Zero have only begun to see the light of day, because, as Appleby puts it, "we've always been more interested in recording and writing and experimenting with everything than in touring. The past five years was time spent finding our sound, finding ourselves. We've gone through everything, from acoustic guitars to electronic music. We needed the time to grow up as people and as musicians."
In other words, this is a debut that is a sum total of its creators' ascent to this moment. It is a desperate, under-pillow diary; a painstakingly lettered love note dropped in a locker; a collective, yet very personal, dissertation. On the record's debut single "The John Wayne," a fierce paean to the ones who so easily break our hearts, the lot of them proclaim, "It's easy to fall in love with you/It's easy to be alone/It's easy to hate yourself when all your love is inside someone else." On "My Love Took Me Down To The River To Silence Me," O'Rourke is torn between the heartbreak and the healing that comes from being heartbroken, "But my heart burned out til it was no more/still I wait on the ground, I don't know what for/There is a heart in you/where is the heart in me?/This love's killing me, but I want it to." And by its early-morning close, when Appleby asks, "And who will write and who will fight for this man/I know I am?/And if you're running out of space/Please don't erase your time with me," it becomes clear that it's not just love Little Green Cars are grasping at: even amidst an ex-lover's plea for acknowledgement, the search has grown far beyond that.
Absolute Zero's 48 minutes, crafted in unabashed earnestness with the aid of seasoned epic-producer Markus Dravs (Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More and Babel, Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and The Suburbs, Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto), act as a soul-bearing report, as guileless as the young quintet themselves, on the act of simply growing up: a process that requires, at once, so little and so much effort it could explode you from the inside at any moment.
"This record constantly jumps between two contrasting perspectives: the beauty of a reckless youth and the fear and confusion caused by our ever-pending adulthood," Appleby explains. "It's a hopeful and nave look at love and life in general, which gives the album its bright days - but also deals with isolation, unrequited love and madness, which give the album its long nights, its nightmares. We wanted to express both a feeling of strength and vulnerability, so the work had to encompass both the light and dark."
Most of all, they're hoping to find they're not alone in their search.

"These are all feelings we've had, as a group or as individuals. We hope this is something people can relate to. That's always been why music has been written: it's a voice for people who don't have a voice. Hopefully someone can find some sort of comfort or solace in this. "
Fresh off a whirlwind month of touring that included several CMJ showcases - ones that caught the attention of outlets like NPR and the New York Times - the band will be spending the next few months leading up to Absolute Zero's release preparing themselves for whatever comes next. Because once it drops, all they'll be able to do is to keep their hands outstretched and wait patiently for listeners to reach back.

Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals

Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals is a St. Louis outfit of snakes that hiss and spit chords and chaos of 60s-70s blues-infused rock and roll. The four piece’s knack for reptilian antics manifests during their live sets. Ribald commentary, inside jokes, unintentional stage dives: the Jackals live and breathe the devil-may-care ethos of our cold-blooded comrades.

Members Josh Eaker, Danny Blaies, Jared Dickinson, and Dylan Doughty represent different facets of the Jackals nearly half-century of influences. Eaker has the rasp of a man who spent years carving salt mines. His throat coated with microscopic minerals, he chucks his voice around a room like an open can of paint. The mess it creates splashes against the wall of chunky, pedal shaken riffs haunted by the war cries of classic rock heroes. Stuck in the doldrums of Dallas, Texas, Eaker etched out song sketches alone, but afloat, in Dallas’ musicianless pool. With a guitar and a superb grasp of Pro Tools, Eaker channeled his malaise into gritty guitar tracks slung under the eerie calls of a man searching for his voice. Joined by Blaies on drums after he returned to St. Louis, the two-piece began as Brother Lee, then added the Leather Jackals when Dickinson and Doughty joined on bass and keys. Together, Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals renounce the sleaze of alt-country and take the name and swagger of legends fallen before them: Derek and the Dominos and The Doors, most pointedly. Contemporaries Deer Tick and Tame Impala are cut from the same revivalist cloth.

Enveloped in tradition, Dickinson’s bass gurgles and grumbles with the impatience of a chained dragon. Set free, it sets afoot across Eaker’s guitar tracks with the clobbering power of John Deacon. Doughty’s spattered keys rain over Blaies percussion which thumps like a heart looking down the barrel of a shotgun. Together the Jackals create a well-meaning raucous forever threatening to run off the rails at any given moment.

$12.00

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Little Green Cars with Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals

Wednesday, October 16 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM at The Firebird