Pink Mountaintops, Sophia Knapp
4904 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90042
This event is all ages
Marissa Nadler wastes no time in cutting close to the bone on "July," her latest
album and first for her new labels, Sacred Bones (US) and Bella Union (Europe).
"Drive" opens the record with one of her most devastating lines, addressing a
quandary we have all grappled with at some point: "If you ain't made it now/ You're
never gonna make it."
There is catharsis in the chorus: "Nothin' like the way it feels/ To drive," she sings
amid a choir of celestial harmonies, elongating that last word as if it were a car
bounding down a long stretch of lost highway. It's Nadler at her most elemental:
warm but spectral, vulnerable but resilient.
Nadler lays the listener – and herself – on the line with "July," her sixth full-length
album in nearly a decade. Set for release on Feb. XX, it floats freely in the pop
cosmos somewhere between gauzy shoegaze, unvarnished folk, and even a hint of
metal's doom-and-gloom spirit.
On "Firecrackers," an acoustic strum frames a cascading melody that is simply
gorgeous until you realize just how much it belies the brutality of what Nadler has
to say. "Firecrackers/ Burned into heaven on the floor/ My attacker/ It's me, it's me,
it's me you're looking for."
Then she slyly leavens the mood: "July Fourth of last year/ We spilled all the
blood/ How'd you spend your summer days?" Nadler asks with a straight face,
acknowledging you could either laugh or cry at such a sentiment.
This is the world of Nadler's "July," where you're likely to find the Boston-based
singer and songwriter "holed up at the Holiday Inn" watching crime TV or leaving
her instruments to freeze in the car. These settings, details, and themes are brand-
new to Nadler's canon, and they paint a far more realistic version of her life than
her previous records. The results are astonishing and occasionally reminiscent
of David Lynch (who is, appropriately enough, among her label mates on Sacred
Bones). As Pitchfork once wrote, her songs are "as gorgeous as they are elliptical
Recorded at Seattle's Avast Studio, the album pairs Nadler for the first time with
producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves in the Throne Room). Dunn
matches Nadler's darkness by creating a multi-colored sonic palette that infuses
new dimensions into her songs. Eyvand Kang's strings, Steve Moore's synths, and
Phil Wandscher's guitar lines escalate the whole affair to a panoramic level of
beautiful, eerie wonder.
Her voice, too, is something to behold here, at once clarion but heavy with the
kind of tear-stained emotion you hear on scratchy old country records by Tammy
Wynette and Sammi Smith. Long gone are the days when Nadler summoned images
of 1960s folk singers who got lost in the woods. She is a cosmic force on "July,"
shooting these songs to euphoric highs and heartbreaking lows.
Celebrated for her crystalline soprano, she explores her lower register to profound
effect throughout "July," turning "1923" into a cinematic ode to forlorn love. Strings
cradle Nadler's vocals, cresting in a climax that is somehow vast yet still intimate. If
you were to hear only one song from "July" – which would be a shame, by the way –
let it be "1923." It is Nadler in miniature: haunted, elegiac, and epic.
"July" is the kind of release that reminds you why NPR counts Nadler's songwriting
as so "revered among an assortment of tastemakers." This is a singular achievement
for the artist, a record she couldn't have made earlier in her career because, as every
songwriter knows, she didn't just write these songs: She lived them.
'Outside Love' is ten songs of love and hate that read like a Danielle Steele romance novel but that would probably make for bad television.
'Outside Love' is the third album by Pink Mountaintops, AKA Stephen McBean, who has slowly emerged as a distinctive voice and a very special contributor to the North American songbook. A veteran of the Vancouver/Victoria punk rock scene, McBean is best known for his contributions to acclaimed rock band Black Mountain, as principal songwriter, guitarist and co-vocalist.
The ten songs on 'Outside Love' are about or influenced by weddings in Montreal, winter, Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, Christmas albums, that one Exile song and that one Echo and the Bunnymen song, the Bermuda Triangle, being depressed in the sunshine, people who haven't made out yet but will in the future, The Everly Brothers, clowns in the ceilings, and bedrooms where skinheads used to live.
Friends and family who contributed to or appear on 'Outside Love', in no particular order, include Sophie Trudeau (A Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor), Ted Bois (Destroyer), Jesse Sykes (Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, sunn0)))), Phil Wandscher (Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Whiskeytown), Josh Stevenson (Jackie O Motherfucker), Ashley Webber (The Organ, Bonnie Prince Billy), Amber Webber (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust), Matthew Camirand (Black Mountain, Blood Meridian), Joshua Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust), Keith Parry (Superconductor, the Gay), and Tolan McNeil (Caroline Mark).
Recorded at multiple studios, 'Outside Love' was mixed at Elmwood Studios by John Congleton (Modest Mouse, Black Mountain, Explosions In The Sky, The Mountain Goats).
Sophia Knapp's music is Love, magic and transformation. Acoustic, synthetic and mystical. Experience and imagination. Cinematic sparkle sounds, sensual, emotive and relaxed. Listening to rain and drinking too much champagne. Her most recent album Into the Waves (Drag City) is all these things and more — a pop vocal recording artist for our time.