Rathborne

Anyone looking for an all-encompassing statement-of-purpose for SOFT, the hyper-caffeinated new record from Rathborne will find it in the first line of the second song when Luke Rathborne – chief songwriter and principle persona – hiccups, "Heard you gotta get it in motion." From that moment on, SOFT never stops moving bounding from one jagged-edged neo-New Wave song to the next, marrying the fast-and-loose ethos of The Ramones with the coiled neurosis of early Devo and the melodic ease of classic R.E.M. and Tom Petty. "The feeling of the record is incredible energy," says Rathborne. "Youthfulness, lust – the feeling of breaking out of yourself, unchaining yourself, forcing yourself to be free."

That same spirit of optimism and restlessness also characterizes Rathborne's career to date. He learned how to play guitar at age 12, when a stranger who was passing through the small town in Northern Maine where Rathborne lived left the instrument at his house ("There was a lot of freewheelin' types passing through my house when we were kids," he chuckles). Inspired by the DIY spirit of punk rock, he recorded his first album, After Dark, when he was just 16 years old, sneaking into the recording studio of his local college late at night and teaching himself how to use the equipment. "I guess ambition when you're young is really unusual," Rathborne says, "But I just couldn't really find a place in high school." Rathborne relocated to New York when he was just 18, where he connected with famed Tin Pan Alley producer Joey Levine. From there, Rathborne began steadily honing his skills, booking himself a weeklong UK tour, netting a slot opening for The Strokes at South By Southwest and recording the EP "I Can Be One/Dog Years," which earned him an appearance on the BBC''s 6 Music. "In the course of making those records," he says, "I've gone from being a 16-year-old kid to being an adult."

That maturity is evident throughout SOFT, a story of heartbreak and redemption that told in spit-shined Buddy Holly vocal melodies. Produced by Rathborne and Emery Dobyns (Antony & the Johnsons, Battles, Noah & the Whale), with mixing and co-production by Gus Oberg and The Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr., the record nestles honey-sweet hooks inside tangles of guitar and Darren Will's percolating bass. "Some of the punk bands I had been in as a teenager sounded like this, "Rathborne says, "So it's a 'return to punk' for me in some ways."

That comes through in songs like "Wanna Be You," where Rathborne sighs and pines over a whistling synth line and a taut cluster of guitar that recalls vintage Nick Lowe. "That's really a song about identity," Rathborne explains. "It's about figuring out why people love each other, why they want to be each other, and when that crosses the line." "Last Forgiven," which Rathborne says is about "redemption and yearning," cruises and dips like a roller coaster going half-speed.

Despair and hope commingle in "So Long NYC," a speed-racing, Guided By Voices-style power-pop number in which Rathborne flips the mythologizing associated with New York on its head. "It's like the antithesis of a Frank Sinatra song," he says. "There was a point for about a year where I was crashing between peoples' apartments, walking around feeling hungry. I would work in a bar near Union Square and then walk around the streets after it was dark. Wandering through New York City late at night when everyone else was asleep, It made me feel like I had stumbled onto something secret."

That contradictory impulse – romanticism and cynicism, energy and exhaustion, is what powers SOFT, and what dusts its cotton candy melodies with a fine layer of grit. "As you get older, the feeling of being drawn between love and cynicism grows exponentially – almost like someone in medieval times being stretched out on a rack," Rathborne says. "Art is about making a connection between those things." That's what Rathborne does throughout SOFT, and the results are as infectious as they are complex. "There's something hidden in there for everyone," Rathborne explains. "We're all reaching for something, and art helps people deal with those things. I hope people realize the album is about something deeper than what's on the surface. It's a record about hope and redemption and energy and possibility. And hopefully, it can be a record about people's lives."

Streets of Laredo

It's always hard to put your finger on the exact moment a band began, but it's safe to say that Streets of Laredo probably started in a beach-house on the wild Coromandel coast of New Zealand back in the summer of 2012. A handful of Gibsons (Dave, Dan & Sarah) started throwing some songs at some long-time musical collaborators (including Si Moore), an old-fashioned hoe-down ensued, someone shouted out a band name and it all became a fact before anyone could catch their breath. Inspired by the evangelical fervor of the 70's folk circuit that spawned modern day re-incarnations like Alex Ebert, Joshua Tilman and Arcade Fire, Streets of Laredo quickly gelled around the idea of a traveling family band playing unruly sing-along tunes with whatever instruments were at hand. Add in a few timely demos and the growing desire to take on a new challenge and before you know it the Streets family played one show in their home town and then packed up their New Zealand lives and transplanted themselves halfway round the world to Brooklyn, NY. "In the fall of 2012 we found ourselves a rehearsal space in an industrial building in Bushwick, just off the Morgan stop, and started playing one of our first songs, 'Girlfriend' over and over for hours on end. Just trying to figure out our sound, who we were, and how we were possibly gonna survive in this town. The only thing we knew was that we'd finally made it to New York and we sure as hell weren't about to leave." Pretty quickly the four-piece met some remarkable people from Bushwick's vibrant music scene and gathered around them a wider family of players who would eventually form a tight-knit seven-piece band that'd well and truly find their place in the local scene. A quick trip back to New Zealand in early 2013 saw the band track the bones of EP 'Volume I & II'. Calling in years of friendships and owed favours, those ten songs, which would turn into their debut release, the double sessions in an old converted Auckland theatre proved to be landmark in locking down that distinctive Streets of Laredo sound. "A bunch of blogs started calling Girlfriend 'Twisty Psychedelic Folk', which seemed fairly appropriate. We definitely all have a passion for rock solid songs and arrangements built around a bizarre sonic palette. Kinda like if Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor produced Paul Simon's songs being sung by Sharon van Etten. Or something." However you describe it, the resulting songs and sound of 'Volume I & II' have had an instant effect on fans and critics alike, with widely hailed comparisons to Arcade Fire, Edward Sharpe and even 'The Lumineers on Acid' being mentioned. Add to that sound a mesmerizing stage show featuring multiple stand-up drummers, horn players, guitars in every corner of the stage, weird home-made instruments and five-part harmonies, and it's easy to see why Streets of Laredo won the AAA category of the world-wide Unsigned Artists competition and were feted as a must-see band at 2013's CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. Streets of Laredo are: Daniel Gibson, Dave Gibson, Sarah Gibson, Si Moore, Tom Darlow, Sean McMahon, and Andrew McGovern.

New Reveille

Pronounced nü ˈre-və-lē. Country/Alt-Bluegrass out of Raleigh, NC.

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Rathborne with Streets of Laredo, New Reveille

Thursday, March 6 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM at Cat's Cradle - Back Room

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