WXPN 88.5 Welcomes ...
Bad Bad Hats, Sunbathe
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
If a Fellini film, a Bosch painting, and a Rorschach drawing had a collective sound, it would be Typhoon's new release. The 14-track record Offerings is a musical and lyrical excursion into surreal imagery, eerie soundscapes, and an emotionally jarring narrative.
The 70-minute album for Roll Call Records, which is the Portland, Oregon indie rock band's fourth studio album, centers on a fictional man who is losing his memory, and in turn, his sense of self. "I've always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don't know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?" explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton.
Motivated in part by his own preoccupation with "losing it," Morton also found a treasure trove of inspiration through various books, art, and film he was immersed in during the writing of this record. "I was watching a lot of David Lynch, and thought a lot about the Christopher Nolan movie, Memento, and Fellini's 8 ½. And there were a lot of books on my nightstand that played into this. It made it a much darker album for sure," he says.
Offerings is divided into four movements (Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning, and Afterparty) to represent the mental phases the main character goes through where he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to his dreadful fate.
"I wanted this record to be a journey, like Dante's Inferno. It kicks off with 'Wake,' where the character wakes up and he's shitting the bed and doesn't know what's going on. I was going for a specific feel that Samuel Beckett does so well," says Morton, who was reading Beckett’s Three Novels, specifically Malloy, while writing the song's lyrics. "Beckett would call it a literature of impoverishment where he'd strip away as much as he could so he could get a feeling of essence and scarcity; that's what I tried to do musically and lyrically here."
Mission accomplished. Morton also masterfully makes a parallel with the character's journey to the state of the world today starting with the second track, "Rorschach," which looks at the age of information and collapse of meaning.
"But, by the third song, 'Empiricist,' there's a regression to the womb where the character is back in his bed at home, talking about his range of motion shrinking. This first movement ends with 'Algernon' [taken from one of Morton's favorite short stories, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes], where he's constantly awakening and in an interrogation with a woman—who the listener should know is his wife, but he doesn't."
Musically, there is a sense of impending doom and chaos throughout the record that mirrors the character's fear and anxiety. "The claustrophobic feeling of only having the present moment and this sense of repetition is musically mirrored with this looping that runs though the record with a through line of choral parts that give it a darker, creepier feel," says Morton.
To set the right tone for the story, Morton went for a less horns, more guitar approach. "We have a little bit of trumpet on this record and a lot of string arrangements. But we really strayed away from the horn arrangements. I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it's very guitar-based. It's going back to my rock roots before Typhoon," says Morton.
The concept of what the main character in the album is going through is also meant as a way of explaining cultural memory loss. "I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven't learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can't recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what's happening right now," he adds.
One choral part ("Down in the floodplains waiting on a cure/ Blessed be the water/ May the water make us pure") was especially inspired by current politics. "I had Steve Bannon in mind quite a bit when I was writing these choral parts because I'm taking on this world view that I don't agree with, which is that the world needs a bloody struggle to reset — bring on the demolishing of order," he says.
The character's downward spiral continues through the album's second movement, Flood, while in the third, Reckoning, comes the absolute-zero moment where the character is ready and willing to let go of life. Reckoning kicks off with "Coverings," which is the first song Morton ever co-wrote with a band member — Shannon Steele, who also sings on it. (Steele lends her vocals to the end of "Bergeron," as well.)
"'Coverings' takes the story into the devil's mansion where all the rooms are the same representing this repeated infinite present with no reference. For me, this is Hell. And, at this point, our character has lost his marbles," he explains.
"At the same time, on the worldly scale," continues Morton, "this is the point where we don't have any public trust and there's no cultural memory, there's just chaos. People are becoming identical in this collapse of meaning and you have no reference. If there is any point to this record it's that — Without reference, you have an interesting concept of infinity, which can be really bad."
As the album comes to a close with the acoustic "Sleep," the character decides that instead of taking part of the chaos, he'd rather sacrifice himself. But there is light at the end of this dark, emotional journey. "The secret track, 'Afterparty,' is where he finds peace and freedom. It's his homecoming. He's on the other side of it now and has found his version of Heaven," says Morton.
It's this level of intricacy in Typhoon's storytelling and musicianship that has helped Typhoon become one of indie rock's most revered bands. Their previous album, White Lighter, hit No. 2 on Billboard's Heatseekers Album Chart and got Best of The Year nods from NPR and Paste. Typhoon has brought their, at times, 11-piece live show on the road alongside indie rock peers The Decemberists, Portugal the Man and Grouplove, and sold out major clubs and venues across America.
Adds Morton of Offerings, "I kind of wanted to make a dystopian record. If it's nothing else, it's that. If I could write my own one-line review, I'd think I'd want people to say, 'It's disturbing and unfortunately correct."
Bad Bad Hats
Bad Bad Hats is an indie rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kerry Alexander (vocals, guitar, wisdom), Chris Hoge (drums, courage), and Noah Boswell (bass, power) met while attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. Kerry and Chris began writing songs together in 2010, recording a collection of demos that would later become their first EP. The addition of their friend Noah in 2012 solidified the line-up. The indie rock trio's songwriting quickly caught the ear of Minneapolis label Afternoon Records, whose alumni includes Yellow Ostrich, Now Now, Haley Bonar, and One for the Team, among others. Afternoon Records signed the trio and released their It Hurts EP in early 2013. Two years later, the band released their bold debut LP, Psychic Reader, on July 17th.
Before the three joined forces (creating what is now known as the Triforce), Alexander recorded rough demos in her mom's walk-in shower and sang 90s pop covers at open mic nights. Hoge played electric guitar in high school, but took up drums in college to fill out his own fuzzy recordings. Boswell played in jazz band by day and spun turntables by night in a teen experimental rap squad called The Erotic Assassins.
As primary songwriter, Kerry's perspective is the guiding force behind Bad Bad Hats. In her early teens, Kerry's family moved away from her childhood home in Birmingham, Alabama. As the new kid at a new school, Alexander began writing songs to temper her loneliness and take up the time. Inspired by popular female songwriters of the 90s, notably Alanis Morissette, Kim Deal, and Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley, Kerry developed a unique songwriting voice of her own. She embraces classic melodies and simple arrangements, and does not shy away from emotive lyrics. It's Kerry's party and she'll cry if she wants to.
Since the release of It Hurts, the three friends have performed around the Midwest, working on new material that expands upon the homespun sound of their previous work. Psychic Reader is the result of their sonic growth. Bolstered by the experimental touches of the album's producer, Brett Bullion, Psychic Readerdraws from the influences of all three members, exploring a number of musical styles over the course of 33 minutes. Kerry's strong vocals and lyrical sensibilities tie the songs together as a cohesive unit, making for an album that is both surprising and universal.
The sounds of Sunbathe have a lot of variation in their midst; from dreamy pop to garage rock, from ethereally dark jams to doo-wop inspired tunes. However, continuity shines through Maggie Morris' lyrical honesty and a raw performance style. She can command the stage with soaring vocals while maintaining a vulnerability that will captivate you.
Morris has been touring for a decade, initially playing under her own name in northern California. Longing for a change of pace, she moved to Portland, Oregon and formed the locally acclaimed band, Genders, with her friend Stephen Leisy. After winning a spot on Portland's Best New Band list in 2013 and multiple tours with indie rock legends, Built to Spill... Morris decided to add a solo project into the mix. Exploring the more personal side of her dynamic songwriting, Sunbathe came to formation in the fall of 2014.
Recorded over the course of 2015 with the help of her friend, Michael Deresh of Lamplight studios, the self-titled debut from Sunbathe shows the many sides of Morris' songwriting abilities yet maintains a cohesive structure through it's radiantly pop-minded arrangements. With music videos, tours, and more albums on the horizon from Genders and Sunbathe, Morris shows no signs of slowing down in 2016.