Johnny Brenda's Presents
Norwegian Arms, Snowmine
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:15 PM
This event is 21 and over
Three years, two EPs and one album since his Siberian sojourn, Keith Birthday of Norwegian Arms has turned his focus away from the confines of his tiny apartment in the Taiga which largely informed the songs on Wolf Like a Stray Dog. That doesn’t mean that the sunny folk music generated by his time in Tomsk, Russia has become any less relevant, or that the sound has changed drastically. Instead, it’s morphed from real-time cultural awe and suffering to nostalgia, and while the memories remain, new ones have taken their place. That being said, nothing has, or perhaps ever will, replace the childhood mandolin on which these songs are written, perhaps the only constant in this ever-evolving project.
In the time since returning to his native Philadelphia, Birthday has found new beauty in the wreckage that surrounds his post-industrial warehouse apartment. Dilapidated buildings, shifting friendships, and late night bicycle rides inform this new batch of songs, a celebration of deeper personal understanding. Still deeply influenced by his continued travels, these new songs draw from trips to South America and Europe, and the sense of Wanderlust remains.
Still obsessed with languages and their systems, Birthday refers to these new songs as imperfective, referring to verb ‘aspect’ present in Slavic languages, which focuses on the current process, not a past event or a future result. He still feels strongly that it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Snowmine are set to release their new album – Dialects – through their own imprint Mystery Buildings. Dialects, Snowmine's second album in their three year history, was entirely written and produced on their own, and recorded by Jake Aron (Grizzly Bear), and Yale Yng Wong (Here We Go Magic) in a church in Uptown Manhattan. The album chronicles a disoriented period in singer Grayson Sanders' life, when after the band's first record, he spontaneously left his job, and spent the following year wandering with a single bag. The lyrics are pulled entirely from the journal he kept during his travels. Dialects is about communication. With the self. With the lover. With society. It's about its breakdown, it's triumphs, and it's misgivings. Growing off of the band's previous release, Dialects marks a subtle shift in the band's sound, from the optimistic, tribal undertones of Laminate Pet Animal, to a more ambient, meditative nostalgia. Recording in a church afforded them the opportunity to record real reverbs, and gather true ambiances one can feel in their headphones. Combine a stronger presence of vintage synthsesizers with the beautiful 1960's cinema-inspired string, woodwind, and choir orchestrations, and you are left with a surreal retrofuturism beckoning you inside for a fireside chat.
In the band's leadoff single "Rome," we experience this juxtoposition firsthand, with a hypnotic post-punk drum groove pushing us forward through a mist of sweeping strings and classic synth sounds. "Columbus," an echo from the past, starts with distant, seductive sirens beckoning us into their sepia-toned love story, driven forward by Fleetwood Mac inspired drums and an irresistably memorable chorus. "Safety in An Open Mind," a purely instrumental track, highlights the entire ensemble on the record, with glistening choral textures soaring in and out of an organic percussion landscape. This piece is a testament to the band's originality, as they utilized zero foreign samples on the album, and recorded every single sound effect and note live. The album's soaring, melancholic third single, "You Want Everything," caps the record's message by urging us to accept who we really are. "You could try to be your best, but don't you know it's suicide to want? You want. You want everything...I won't let you have regrets, no way." It's this message that has guided the band's release strategy. Having been disatisfied with lengthy label discussions, the band decided to forego the system altogether and turn to their diehard organic following. Staying true to the DIY methods they have adhered to since the band's inception, they created an entirely custom crowdfunding project via their website Snowmine.Com. Not only can fans choose what they want to buy for the money they can afford to give, but the band has created milestones that allow the fans to be a part of the art, by submitting information or photos of themselves to be included in album artwork and other pieces of content. It's this type of attention to their supporters that has turned a once self-released Bandcamp bedroom project into a beloved musical presence.
Dream Safari, described by self and listeners as "jungle-pop", emits a blend of disco-driven beats with a twist of tropical. Dreamy mallets, delayed drum pads, and cosmic vocals are tightly wrapped in electronic dance elements, creating a unique vibe. Dream Safari's debut EP is available for free download at dreamsafari.bandcamp.com.