1811 14th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Brutal is one way of putting it. The only way, really, considering the thermometer-cracking highs that faced Generationals during the month-long sessions for their second album, Actor- Caster.
"DC is very unforgiving in the summer. It just radiates heat," explains singer/multi- instrumentalist Ted Joyner. "So even though it was sunny outside, we sat in the basement most of the time."
That explains the melancholic/morose bent of the band's lyrics this time around, like how Grant Widmer-also a singer/multi-instrumentalist-refuses to pick up the phone in "Goose & Gander" or the way Joyner's lovelorn melodies linger well after the last dust-clearing note of "Dirty Mister Dirty." It's as if they're chasing every smile with a sneer, and at least one of them's brandishing a knife behind his back.
As for the duo's songwriting, it's still sunbaked in spots (the persistent piano lines of "Greenleaf," the galloping grooves of "Ten-Twenty-Ten" and "You Say It Too"), but nothing's stuck in the '60s. More like the here and now, combined with the warm, inviting vibe of classic pop cuts.
"It's important for us to record the old way-with analog equipment and tape machines,"explains Widmer, "But we also incorporate lots of electronic elements that wouldn't have been available to someone in the '60s. That combination is our sound."
In dreams, we rarely know what we are running from or toward. We only know we must keep running, continue searching. Psychic Twin's debut album, Strange Diary, lives in that state of surreal urgency. What's in front of us or behind us can't be described, but we are sure in our bones that what we are searching for exists just a few steps away. These songs are "dreamlike" in a more fundamental sense than that overused descriptor implies. They reflect the emotionally arduous and unpredictable journey that singer, songwriter, and composer Erin Fein took to creating them.
The making of Strange Diary spans four years and two states. Fein began writing and composing solo material in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. amid the dissolution of her marriage. Following the divorce, she relocated to Brooklyn, N.Y. and continued to write and record-despite lineup changes and the lonely disorientation that comes from shedding an old life and starting over. The album contains songs written before, during, and after the divorce, from both New York and Illinois. The subject of each song is an unnamed "you," who she alternately pleads with and flees from. "These songs are 100% a diary of my life over the last four years," says Fein.
Today, Psychic Twin's evolution includes drummer Rosana Caban and Fein's absorption of several sources of inspiration. While rooted in the avant pop of The Cocteau Twins, Siousxie, and Annie Lennox, contemporary production flourishes lend each song the clarity and buoyancy of contemporary pop. The music balances languid, dark melodies and atmosphere with propulsive rhythms and soaring vocal lines. It's beautiful and catchy. It's like the sound of someone reaching the end of that dream, finding what they've been searching for through all the haze.