THE FRONT BOTTOMS, STEFF KOEPPEN AND THE ARTICLES
31 East Toole
Tucson, AZ, 85701
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
With a musical repertoire that spans the spectrum from hushed finger-picked narratives to bombastic rockers, Kevin Devine is one of those rare talents who straddles a multitude of genres and feels equally at home in each. Whether he's playing solo to hundreds of his devotees in a cramped NYC club, joining friends on stage at Lollapalooza or touring with artists varying from Rachel Yamagata to Brand New, Devine's songs enrapture a diverse set of ears like few musicians. Born and raised in New York and currently dwelling in Brooklyn, Devine is a singer/songwriter who has been quietly honing his craft since the release of his first album in 2002. He's since been adding idiosyncratic chapters to his unique success story by building his diehard international fanbase with incessant touring and a series of compelling releases that highlight his introspective lyrical wordplay, each displaying an impressive musical evolution. Brother's Blood, his fifth record and first with Manchester Orchestra's Favorite Gentlemen record label, is the most resounding evidence of that ethic and maturation – a sprawling, confident mission statement about conscience, culture, and personality. Brother's Blood is a response to the three years Devine spent touring relentlessly behind his major label debut, the Rob Schnapf-produced Put Your Ghost To Rest, initially released by Capitol/EMI in 2006 and later re-issued by Brand New's Procrastinate! Music Traitors following Devine's dismissal from Capitol during its bloody merger with Virgin. True to Devine's character, he turned a potentially grisly outcome inside out and instead exited the label with a healthier and more thriving career than when he went in. Devine accomplished this feat the old fashioned way: playing close to 600 shows between June 2006 and December 2008, further broadening his appeal and versatility, and doing it all without the centralized support from a label. These shows offered him opportunities to share stages (and vans) with artists as diverse as AA Bondy, Annuals, Manchester Orchestra, Elf Power, Rachel Yamagata, Lucero and Corinne Bailey Rae. He appeared at The Sundance Film Festival alongside She & Him and Mandy Moore and at Austin City Limits with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Andrew Bird. He traversed the globe at a feverish pace: the UK with All-American Rejects, Australia with The Offspring, England and Ireland, Europe and Japan, and of course, the States. Back home, he triumphantly oversold two headline gigs at New York's Bowery Ballroom and was asked to join two very different groups of friends, Brand New AND Okkervil River, on their respective stages at Lollapalooza 2008. Somewhere in all that motion, Devine managed to whip 15 or so songs into shape and started visualizing what would become Brother's Blood. He recorded barebones acoustic versions of the tracks in early '08 and eventually rehearsed and demoed those with his erstwhile Goddamn Band (Brian Bonz on keys & percussion, Chris Bracco on bass, Mike Skinner on drums, Russell Smith on guitar, and Mike Strandberg on guitar) in their Brooklyn practice space all summer. Carving away at and layering ideas with producers Bracco & Skinner and engineer Dan Long, the band bunkered down in Williamsburg's Headgear Studios (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Au Revoir Simone, Son Volt) for the first two weeks of August. Devine consciously ceded more control of arrangement to his players, hoping to affect a more live, full-band feel for the first time on record. The results speak for themselves. Brother's Blood is both the next step and a break in form; it reflects the diverse talents and contributions of The Goddamn Band as much as it speaks to the scope of Devine's influences and commitment to exploring new stylistic territory. Lead single "I Could Be With Anyone" is a charging and hook-heavy pop song equally indebted to The Cars and Superchunk; "Another Bag Of Bones" (initially released as a Rob Schnapf-produced acoustic single around the ramp-up to the election) pins its dystopian and restless vision of a civilization in freefall to a dark and explosive groove before finding release in a choir's hopeful strain. Meanwhile, the title track is a massive and dynamic homage to the epic guitar freakouts of Neil Young and Built To Spill and the hypnotic and ominous "Carnival" sets the tone its with spacious, swirling flares of psychedelia – a dynamic exploration of tension and release which plays against a nightmarish hallucination about lost willpower and the fear of finally waking up to a reality that's even crazier than your dreams. But far from being one of Devine's rockingest recordings to date, many of Brother's Blood's finest moments are its quietest. Opener "All Of Everything, Erased" lays a bed of nimble and rhythmic finger-picking for its vivid description of a world left with no recourse but to cleanse itself of humanity and start over. "Fever Moon" is a sultry, Latin-influenced meditation on lust and its consequences that wouldn't seem out of place on a 1970s Leonard Cohen album, while "Murphy's Song" features a dazzling vocal turn from Jaymay that adds some jazz-era sensuality to the song's trumpet and piano-sprinkled Carribean lilt. On "Tomorrow's Just Too Late," Devine and Brand New's Jesse Lacey deliver a delicate and weaving full-song harmony that would make Simon & Garfunkel proud. Whether he's joined in a duet, backed by his Goddamn Band, or singing quiet ruminations into his microphone alone with just his acoustic guitar, Devine deftly illustrates his unique versatility and breadth with each note. Brother's Blood not only serves as a reminder of this but as the next step in his exciting evolution.
THE FRONT BOTTOMS
What can we say about The Front Bottoms? We know we love them: a punk band that uses acoustic guitar, indie-rock dance grooves, Springsteen-y keyboard lines (this they might deny). It's hook-filled… it's anthemic… it's confessional. Maybe Joni Mitchell by way of Green Day? They must have heard some Replacements along the way, and it seems like what Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers did for the Boston suburbs these guys are doing for Bergen County, NJ. But they still leave us scratching our heads. Just what the hell have the Front Bottoms alchemized?
With the wonders of the internet and their obsessive gigging, they are now known from New Jersey to…Spain (?) where director Pablo Nieto found them online and asked to create a video for "Maps." The video features Williamsburg, a farm (where Mathew sometimes works), and that aforementioned Econoline as well as some "loveable" hand puppets. Word of mouth and great reviews has them fielding calls from promoters all over the tri-state area.
New Jersey's The Star-Ledger called them "one of the leading lights of the New Jersey pop underground. The group's amalgam of punk, guitar-folk, lo-fi experimentalism, imagist-inspired poetry (drawing heavily on Sella's upbringing in the Jersey suburbs) and playful humor (that betrays the singer's youth) has caught discriminating ears on both sides of the Hudson."
STEFF KOEPPEN AND THE ARTICLES
Steff Koeppen and The Articles is a Tucson, AZ based group made up of pianist and vocalist, Steff Koeppen, Chris Pierce on bass, Tom Beech on drums, Alexandra Tuggle and Ruth Hall playing violins. At the end of 2009, Steff began combining her solo project ideals with a full band. Each member's differing background creates a unique blend for the brand of indie pop that they play. The band released their first self-titled album in the summer of 2010 with River Jones Music Label. A new album is in the works for release in early 2012.
KEVIN DEVINE with THE FRONT BOTTOMS, STEFF KOEPPEN AND THE ARTICLES
Tuesday, March 20 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM at Solar Culture