Converse Rubber Tracks Live:
Small Black, Earthquake Party!
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Tanlines will release their sophomore album, Highlights, on May 19th, 2015. Produced by the band and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, Highlights began in a basement in Pittsburgh and ended in a church in Brooklyn. It trades world music sounds (as heard through YouTube) for a more alive, realized approach, the result of Emm and Cohen wanting to break from their ‘two guys, one screen’ writing style. The transition came suddenly: when they sat down to write Highlights in Emm’s childhood home in Pittsburgh, their computer blew up, quite literally, “with a burst of sparks and clouds of smoke. Whatever had just happened felt like some kind of omen,” says Emm.
Stranded without the samples and sounds that had previously defined their musical palette, they spent the rest of the week in Pittsburgh writing songs the old-fashioned way—with a guitar and drums. They found themselves falling back on facility they’d gained with their instruments over the previous two years of touring, and an alternative, simpler process evolved, one that set the tone for Highlights immediately.
Influenced by their time spent on the road touring Mixed Emotions, primarily in the States, they reached for the sounds of 90’s New York hip-hop drums, Detroit techno synths, and lots and lots of guitars. The results of which would lead them to call this their ‘American album’, “though it may only sound that way to us,” says Emm. Instead, let’s just call Highlights “the album where things started making more sense.” Whereas before the band had wandered their way through foreign musical landscapes and the existential ‘what am I doing with my life’ wasteland of post-youth, Highlights finds the band settled and at home, comfortable in their own skin.
Indeed, one listen to Highlights shows this change in subject matter has brought Tanlines to a more evolved, sophisticated place. Themes of love and desire replace questions of the unknown. Partnerships are celebrated while relationships grow and change and give way to safe-distance reflections on the past without the trappings of nostalgia.
Between working in Los Angeles with producer Patrick Ford, and their hometown of New York City with Chris Taylor, they eventually settled on the ten songs that make up the album. Taylor brought them to record in a 100 year-old church; the unfamiliar settings and Taylor’s energy and enthusiasm pushed the band to new heights. Most noticeable are Emm’s powerful vocals, broadcast from the balcony of the empty church, and thankfully, captured warmly and beautifully by Taylor across the whole album.
In many ways, the resulting music feels like a renaissance for a band that began in 2008 as a one-off remix project. The upbeat dancefloor-ready Tanlines lives on in songs like driving set opener “Pieces”, the dream-inspired “Slipping Away”, and the seductive “Bad Situations”, but the colors and emotional range of the album go much deeper than ever before, with Emm’s vocals and lyrics, at once personal and observational, taking center stage on songs like “Running Still” and “Invisible Ways.”
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’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 debut LP New Chain remained a continuation of this contrasting ethos – a delirious smudging of the lines between melancholy and nostalgia, tension and celebration, unabashed pop music and experimentation. Next, the band wanted to combine their aesthetic with overt sampling, inspired by legendary beatsmiths like RZA, DJ Premier and J Dilla. Enter the Moon Killer mixtape. A free full-length release through Small Black’s website, Moon Killer not only openly borrows from sources as rich and diverse as Nas, Pere Ubu, Drake and the Carpenters, but features multiple drop-ins from Das Racist MC Heems, as well as remixes from Star Slinger and Phonetag. What truly stands out is the ease with which Small Black folds their source material into their own inimitable sound. It’s a legitimate step forward for the band—a sizeable stride closer to what they’ve been hearing in their heads this whole time. Currently, the band is hard at work on a new full-length for Jagjaguwar, to be released sometime in 2012.
vs. Pizza is Earthquake Party's brief but potent debut: a three-song five-minute self- released cassingle that summarizes their noisy pop music. It's a surefire delivery for not just the Bostonians who have witnessed their infectious live show, but just about anyone whose ears prick up at the initials GBV, MBV, TNV, YLT…
Earthquake Party's formation is noteworthy, as it is just as fearless as their sound. Late one night, Justin Lally texted, "Do you like The Vaselines?" to Mallory Hestand, a co- worker he just met the week prior. After replying with an affirmative, Justin suggested they start a band of their own, and songwriting sessions were conducted with Justin on acoustic guitar and Mallory playing keyboard on her computer. As soon as enough songs were written, shows were scheduled, and finding a drummer became an afterthought. Minutes prior to their second show, Josh 'J-Raff' Carrasco saw the drums being set up for the band following Earthquake Party, walked over to Justin who he barely knew and asked to join the band.
And that's the go-with-yr-gut spirit that permeates vs. Pizza and Earthquake Party in general. Singles "Pretty Little Hand" and "Brains" are perfect contradictions: taut compositions swimming in a sonic mess of blown out keyboards, guitars, drums, and co- ed vocals. It's like they've discovered a shortcut between the ears and the brain, and it's this immediacy that is Earthquake Party's secret weapon. It's why they were named the Best Band in Massachusetts by the Boston Phoenix last year without recorded music. It's why they've been asked to share stages with Times New Viking, Handsome Furs, Surfer Blood, and others. It's why they can't wait to catapult their songs and selves into each crowd they face.
Free show, must RSVP via Ticketmaster
The Sinclair is general admission standing room only.
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.COM.
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