Windish Agency CMJ 2013 Showcase
Neon Indian (DJ Set), We Are Scientists, Small Black
Wardell, In The Valley Below, Bonzie
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Neon Indian (DJ Set)
Neon Indian is the brainchild of Alan Palomo, who's 2009 debut record Psychic Chasms not only earned the 20 year-old a spot on numerous year-end lists, but assisted the forming of a genre that, though known by a few names now (hypnagogic pop, glo-fi, chillwave), summoned a very unique and specific electro-mangled sound. Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and SPIN all praised Palomo for his adventurous new sound, and he was tapped to perform at top festivals like South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, and Sasquatch and also scored opening slots for bands ranging from Massive Attack and The Flaming Lips to Phoenix and Chromeo.
After nearly two years on the road off the success of his debut, Palomo returns this fall with his proper follow-up LP, Era Extraña. This time around, we see a darker shaded sound document that tosses somewhere between an 8-bit shoegaze record and peering through the fence of a teenage apocalypse drive-in flick.
Written and recorded last winter in an efficiency apartment in Helsinki, Finland during its short solstice days, Era Extraña was ice sculpted from arpeggiated synth-scapes and scribbled journal entries made during his stint there alone in constant solitude. "It's the closest you can get to feeling like you're at the edge of the earth," he says. "And there were moments where I lost sight of what I was really there to do."
The sample-happy stylings of his previous efforts have been traded in for acid-stained commodore 64 jams (See 'Polish Girl, 'Future Sick') and bit-pulped guitar sludge ballads (see 'Hex Girlfriend', 'The Blindside Kiss'). All throughout, the undulating moods of the record are guided by a haunted three-part instrumental titled Heart: Attack, Heart: Decay, and Heart: Release. Once completed, the layers were then thawed and reassembled by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT), who mixed the album and did additional production with Palomo at his upstate Tarbox Studios. The album sessions there were briefly taken on a scenic detour by a drop-in four-song EP collaboration with The Flaming Lips which was released earlier this year.
The album's Spanish title plays with the loose-hinges of the word extraña, which not only directly translates into 'strange', but also means to 'command the act of longing'. These themes of feeling an eerie absence in new strange times are explored throughout the album as a whole in his teenage ethos peppered lyrical musings in an end-days obsessed climate. Many of this is inspired by an ongoing love affair with the notion of what cyberpunk means in a year like 2011. The feeling can best be described in a recent interview where he noted, "We're now living in the era mysticized by a lot of future-geared 70s and 80s cinema, but it's definitely not quite how they imagined it."
Era Extraña is slated for a September 13th release on Palomo's own Static Tongues imprint in conjunction with Mom and Pop Records in North America, Transgressive Records in the United Kingdom and Europe, Pop Frenzy/Inertia in Australia and Big Nothing Records in Japan.
We Are Scientists
It was the kind of bar where nobody nice goes on the kind of street where nobody nice lives, which is probably what made it so cheap, which is definitely what made We Are Scientists take meetings there. Not that Murray & Cain were cheap, but they could do math just fine. If they were sticking a quarter into a video game machine, they’d just as soon the thrills last for more than thirty seconds. Same with buying a lady dinner. Of course it had been a long time since video games or dinner with a lady cost a quarter, and anyway they weren’t looking for video games or ladies, except in the deep-down quiet way that men always are. They were looking for a producer.
Murray & Cain, they’re the guys who started We Are Scientists 13 years ago. Fresh out of college and bored by their day jobs, they figured rehearsing a rock & roll band would eat up the long slow evenings. Only it backfired, because the band panned out. Now nothing eats up their long slow days, except proving that a busted clock is wrong nearly all the time, and if you watch a pot long enough, eventually it boils.
They ordered two whiskies, no ice, filled to spilling. Those were for Cain. Murray took a squid-looking thing made of plastic tubes from his briefcase and handed five of the six tentacles to the bartender, who attached them to the five closest taps. Murray stuck the free end into his mouth and nodded, and the bartender opened the taps. That’s when Chris Coady stepped out of the gloom.
They’d met Coady six years prior. At the time he was a hotshot engineer who’d made his bona fides giving The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and TV on the Radio their signature sound. Now he was one of the best mixers in the game, and had a producer’s résumé that reminded you of a perfect hundred dollar bill. It looked so good it had to be fake. Only Coady was for real — Beach House, Wavves, and The Smith Westerns could testify to that.
“Tequila, ice,” he said, reading aloud every word on the itty bitty drink menu in his head. “Beer fucks with my sinuses.”
They talked. Songs, gear, bands, plus dirty, slanderous gossip. Lots of agreement, with enough “you’re fucking crazy”s to keep things interesting. It started to sound like this was the crew for the job. Two months later, they were drinking the same thing, but they were doing it in one of New York City’s best small studios, the kind that doesn’t come cheap, but gives you a lot more than you paid for. By the end of the year they’d made a record that knew how to throw a punch, but was no slouch in the bedroom, either. A record that gave you the big, wide-angle view, then brought you in for a closer look. It was a We Are Scientists record, and it was a Chris Coady record, and everybody who’d listened to it was having a real hard time staying calm.
A little calm was required, though. It had been a couple years since the band were part of the major label world, with its conveyor belt efficiency — putting out the record would take time. So while the suits set to work finding the right label partner, the band did one of the the only nine or ten things they do really, really well: they recorded some more music. Just a little more music.
A couple of days in their pal Tim Wheeler’s studio with his wunderkind partner Claudius Mittendorfer, and five more songs were ready to go — chopped, locked, exported to lossless AAC. But what to do with them? Like greed pooling in the chest of a recently elected politician, it didn’t take long for a plan to form.
We Are Scientists released “Something About You/Let Me Win,” a double-A-side, in July. “Business Casual,” an EP featuring two tracks from 2014’s untitled album, is out October 15th on Dine Alone Records (North America), 100% (UK/Europe), and through Caroline Records elsewhere.
Kidrockers feat. Small Black
Formed at the tail-end of 2008 as a bedroom recording project, Small Black first made waves with their eponymous debut EP. Recorded in the attic of singer Josh Kolenik’s uncle’s remote Long Island beach-house/surfboard workshop, it served as an ideal introduction to the group with its pulsing patchwork synths and addictive, stay-gold hooks that seemed to unfurl themselves gradually over repeated listens. Slightly more immediate and polished than its predecessor, Small Black’s new album “New Chain” remains a continuation of this contrasting ethos – a delirious smudging of the lines between melancholy and nostalgia, tension and celebration, unabashed pop music and experimentation.
Sasha and Theo are brother and sister. While they draw from a wide range of influences, their music is best informed by the history of two people who grew up sharing a wall: summery Los Angeles weather, the simultaneous comfort and rivalry of family, and just the right hint of nostalgia. The Brother/Sister EP is the band's debut release.
In The Valley Below
Vocalist Angela Gail puts it frankly: In The Valley Below make “mostly music that we would want to listen to,” an honest and unapologetic statement from the Los Angeles duo, rounded out by vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Jacob. In The Valley Below is a new musical pairing delivering hushed swirls of male and female vocals forged with dark stories of brooding riddles and romance. Jeffrey grew up in the storied musical town of Memphis, given a guitar at the age of 13 and creating music from that point forward. Angela left the binding depths of a “mostly cold and cloudy town in Michigan,” for a life at sea, finding initial songwriting inspiration while living on a small boat in the West Indies. In The Valley Below was created when these two found each other, having crossed paths in artistic circles after they separately made their way to Los Angeles. The duo honed their craft together, using faithful archetypes as their inspiration, “Our biggest inspiration is powerful subjects like sex, crime and religion. And how that fits into the lives we’ve chosen, our dreams and struggles, mistakes and heartbreaks.”
In The Valley Below produce and record their own songs, mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Mountain Goats, David Byrne) and vocals tracked by Pete Min (Debbie Harry).
BONZIE — the moniker for 18-year-old Chicagoan Nina Ferraro — isn’t a traditional confessional singer-songwriter. She’s more of an observer and commentator who is drawn to expressing the concerns of her generational cohort (the bond between independence and interdependence, not wanting to be manipulated, view of one’s self beyond society) with unwavering honesty, and delivering them with powerful abandon. It’s partly for this reason that Ferraro has chosen to release her songs under the moniker Bonzie (an image and word she’s long associated with her creative output) as opposed to her own name.
In a 2013 interview with the Chicago Tribune, she explained her decision. “There was something about it that felt egotistical to me, and music was never that sort of pursuit. Bonzie feels a lot better to go under, not only because it’s a pseudonym but also because it doesn’t subscribe to a language. There isn’t a conventional definition of Bonzie, and it’s more something where I can become it’s meaning.”
Ferraro has taken on the role of co-producer and mixer with LA-based Will Golden, teaming up with Tom Biller (Elliott Smith, Fiona Apple) on her debut full length album, Rift Into The Secret Of Things. Songs like “Convert” and “Daniel and the Great Solstice,” with their finger-picked acoustic melodies, swell with elegant string arrangements that raise the emotional ante of the songs.
The album’s title is inspired by a passage in one of Ferraro’s favorite books, Thoreau’s Walden. “It’s about how to get to the essence, to put aside intellect or logic in order to reach the truth, or whatever the essence of a thing is,” Ferraro explains. “Much of this album is shaped underneath that thought. There is a core to this album that ties the songs together. It’s subtle but it’s there. It’s difficult to declare the album any one thing because it varies song to song, but there is a theme. It’s my hope that the listener will be able to tap into that.” Bonzie is currently recording new music with producer Steve Albini in Chicago.
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