Frankie Cosmos

New York native songwriter and composer Greta Kline has shared a bounty of her innermost thoughts and experiences from the past six years through the almost inconceivable number of songs she has released since 2011. Like many of her peers, Kline’s prolific creative output was initially born out of an era where bedroom recording and self-releasing became more possible than ever through the advent of the internet. But as she’s grown as a writer and performer, playing to larger audiences and devising more complex albums, Kline has shifted from an artist who’s made strides despite limitations, to an artist whose impact can be seen across modern independent music. Her newest record, Vessel, which will be out spring 2018 through Sub Pop Records, is the 52nd release from Kline and the third studio album by her indie pop outfit Frankie Cosmos. On it, Kline explores all of the changes that have come in her life as a result of the music she has shared with the world for the past half-decade, as well as the parts of her life that have remained irrevocable.

Frankie Cosmos has taken several different shapes since their first full band album, Zentropy, erupted in New York’s DIY music scene in 2014. For Vessel the band’s line up comprises of multi-instrumentalists David Maine, Lauren Martin, Luke Pyenson, and Kline, who each contributed their own musical sensibilities to help shape the sound of the new record. In between tours supporting their last album, Next Thing, Kline brought new songs to the band’s rehearsals, and together the members collectively participated in turning them into full band arrangements. As a result, the album’s staggering 18 tracks implement a range of instrumentations and recording methods unheard of on the albums preceding it, while still maintaining the succinctly sincere nature of Kline’s songwriting.

The album’s opening track, “Caramelize,” serves as the thematic overture for Vessel, alluding to topics like dependency, growth, and love which reoccur throughout the record. The song strings together a scope of musical motifs and showcases the intense dynamics in both Kline’s lyrics and the band’s performance that continue on the tracks that follow. Although many of the scenarios and personalities written about on Vessel are familiar territory for Frankie Cosmos, what’s really changed on the new record is Kline’s nuanced point of view and her desire to constantly question the latent meaning of her experiences. In the album’s first single “Jesse,” Kline grapples with the startling personal epiphanies in life that stem from dreams and subconscious realizations. On another single, “Apathy,” Kline confronts her own insecurities around personal change and feeling distant from the people she once had a close relationship with. Then later on the album “Accommodate,” deals with the complexity of being in a community that would rather turn its nose a problem than hold its members accountable. “Being Alive” stands out as one of the few old bandcamp-era Frankie Cosmos songs the band reworked for Vessel, and shows the rhythm section quickly shifting between fast and slow tempos as Kline ponders the minutia of existence. Kline’s dissonant lyrics are paired with the band’s driving, jangly grooves creating several moments on the album where the bandmates’ chemistry playing together is brought to the forefront.

To record Vessel, Frankie Cosmos traveled back up to Binghamton, New York to work with Hunter Davidsohn, the producer and studio engineer who helped craft the sound for Zentropy and Next Thing. The band spent 3 days upstate tracking drums, bass, guitars, and vocals, favoring the spontaneity of reel-to-reel tape over the meticulous perfectionism caused by recording digitally. Then the band and Davidsohn continued recording the album for another three days in Brooklyn with Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader at their studio, Gravesend Recordings. As Frankie Cosmos started testing out new songs for Vessel on the road, the band invited members from their fellow touring bands to join them on stage to sing or play parts on tracks like “Being Alive” and “Jesse.” Once in the studio, the band decided to invite those same friends and more to contribute parts to the final recorded versions including Alex Bailey (formerly of Warehouse, who has replaced David Maine as a permanent member of the live band), Vishal Narang (of Airhead DC), and singer/songwriter Anna McClellan. After six days of recording, Davidsohn continued mixing the album back upstate and eventually sent the finished album to Josh Bonati to be mastered.

Vessel’s run time is exactly double the length of Frankie Cosmos’ breakout record, Zentropy, and serves as enormous leap forward in the band’s catalog. But ultimately, the album’s unique sensibility, esoteric narratives, and reveling energy, allow it to exist as just another distinctive chapter in Kline’s ongoing musical auto-biography. Through Vessel, Kline provides the listener with a spectrum of disparate anecdotes, observations, and affirmations and then tasks them with arranging the pieces in a way that they can make their own sense of. Typically albums by artists at a similar stage in their career are written with the weight of knowing that someone is on the other end listening. Yet, despite bringing attention to her audience in direct references, Kline and the rest of Frankie Cosmos have passionately written Vessel with a clarity not muddled by the fear of meeting anyone’s expectation.

If you were to ask Hannah Read what Lomelda means, you’d probably end up with some kind of non-answer and a new topic. It is a guarded secret reserved for those who really pry. It is a high school attempt at describing something vast and powerful yet uniquely quiet and complex. And it is ever-changing. Lomelda is about memory, intimacy, and the tragedies of distance. As a band, it has appeared in several forms over the years, but always, to Hannah, Lomelda has been about discovering friendship and connection. Close collaborators have become closer friends. And when you see Lomelda, when you hear it, it is apparent that Hannah cares deeply about the connection made with the people on stage, the connection with you.

“For most people who create art I would assume there is some kind of deep unanswerable hole in your soul as to why you’re making it…” So says Stef Chura ahead of the release of Midnight, her gritty, vehement new album, recorded and produced by Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest - and her first new collection of songs for Saddle Creek, out June 7th. Illuminating that search for answers with a fevered sense of exploration, Midnight is a bold leap forward from Messes, Stef’s contagious debut album, with every aspect of her new work finding bold ways to express itself as it rips through twelve restless and relentless new tracks. Today, she also shares the first single, “Method Man, ” a boisterous three-minutes that melds jagged, skewed guitars with a distinctive voice that has a new-found sense of confidence while touching on a vulnerable moment in Stef’s life. She also announces a North American tour in support of the new album. She explains “Method Man” below:

A long time ago I was pondering the literal words “Method Man” while listening to Wu-Tang. There was a person in my life that I had a confusing array of emotions for, sometimes I was in love with him, I admired and looked up to him, I thought of him as superior to me. He was older than me and I was a teenager. At that age I experienced a titanic amount of anxiety that usually expressed itself as silence.

This song was born out of a total frustration regarding a man who seemed “methodical” to me. He was literate. He waxed poetic. Almost someone…how do I say this…that you wanted to be condescending to you? As long as they were talking to you. He drank a lot of energy drinks and had this overall outlook that no one understood him. That he was in on some kind of cosmic secret that I couldn’t get. He smoked so many cigs it stained his fingers yellow.

He was always talking, and I was so enamored with this person. I was always nervous to reply. He would go on and on for hours. He sometimes would look at me and be like “oh maybe you won’t get this…. maybe you don’t get this.” I was too terrified to say much.

A couple of years on from the release of Messes, Stef is still based in Detroit, that most singular city which has seen it all, from the no-mans-land of its initial collapse through to the resurgent place it is now. Stef found inspiration from the people she surrounded with herself with, more so than the place itself. It’s no surprise that Midnight is testament to those kind of characteristics; a rugged and robust burst of defiance. “I’m usually dealing with the context of what I can’t say or haven’t said,” Stef says. “A kind of spiritual bondage that I would say most people, probably a lot of female bodied ones, put themselves through.”

Which is to say that if its predecessor was a raw, somewhat unadorned document of Stef’s work, then Midnight is the muscular, swaggering evolution. “This album has a depth to it and a particular sound because of Will,” Stef states regarding Toledo’s input, whose spiky nuances can be found across the length and breadth of Midnight, the record presenting an exhilarating rush of sound and color as Stef’s spirited vocal finds and signature guitar sounds unravel alongside in a thrilling meeting of ideas and influences; dispelling demons, song by song.

Equal parts thrilling and angsty, Midnight is a testament to the collaborative process, a record that makes the very most of those who came together to make it, but more than that, it’s a firm statement of tenacity and perseverance, of not resting on your laurels but leaping forwards no matter the situation you find yourself in. From out of one day and into the next.

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