Midlake, of Denton, TX, put out a pretty new record this year called Antiphon, their first since the departure of principal singer/songwriter Tim Smith. Now guitarist Eric Pulido is steering the ship, and the band has produced a record that Consequence of Sound calls “moody yet accessible” and borrows heavily (and effectively) from 70s folk rock sounds. Tomorrow night, Midlake will headline at Old Rock House and it will be lovely, no doubt.
The band even made the entirety of Antiphon available for streaming (with lyrics included):
What I’d like for you to do on Wednesday evening, in addition for showing up to see Midlake, is to arrive in PLENTY of time to get a drink and a good spot for the opener, the inimitable Sarah Jaffe, also out of Denton. Since the release of her debut full-length, Suburban Nature, in 2010, she’s been busy creating pieces of work that defy the constricting “Female Singer/Songwriter” genre. Here’s what she’s been up to lately:
– 2011: Sarah Jaffe releases a DVD of a live performance and an EP that was recorded in her home and contains a stirring, stripped version of her well-known song, “Clementine”.
– 2011: Sarah Jaffe covers Drake’s “Shut It Down”. Kills the track dead, then records it, and it ends up (along with a Cold War Kids cover) on the aforementioned EP, The Way A Sound Leaves A Room.
– 2012: Sarah Jaffe releases her 2nd full-length record, The Body Wins, during which she sheds her indie-folk cloak, increases production levels, and continues to do whatever the hell she wants.
– 2012: Sarah Jaffe debuts a remix of “Foggy Field” off The Body Wins, and it rules.
– 2013: Sarah Jaffe forms one half of hip hop project The Dividends with producer Symbolyc One. She writes the hook and contributes uncredited vocals for “Bad Guy”, the lead track off Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
– 2013: Sarah Jaffe is 27 years old. She releases two new songs, “Defense” and “Satire”, and well, listen for yourself:
The evidence shows that tomorrow night at Old Rock House will be a very special one. Want to go for $FREE? Leave a comment below or on Facebook and tell us why you want to attend. We’ll choose a winner at random tomorrow, December 4th, at noon.
Middle Class Fashion, St. Louis’ delightful denizens of powerful piano pop, have had a big year.
They released their second full-length, Jungle, to critical praise and rhapsodic fan approval.
The trio of Jenn Malzone, Brian McClelland, and Brad Vaughn became a foursome with the addition of synth-slanger, hair-flinger, and vocalist Katie Lindhorst.
The band has played a bushel of knockout shows, and plan to end the year on a high note with two more: November 29th, they’ll take to the Off Broadway stage with née for a post-Thanksgiving dance music spectacular; on New Year’s Eve MCF will revisit OB, this time as support for the The Blind Eyes, who have for several years running brought us the most local, most fun, most come-as-you-are December 31st shows.
And now, thanks to Blip Blap, Middle Class Fashion is releasing upon the world their music video for “Golden Rose”, an infectious stinger of a single off Jungle. The video was a collaboration between MCF, Blip Blap, and a couple of their band buddies from Kid Scientist, with KS’s Dave Moore acting as Director of Photography and Joe Taylor contributing some additional crane shots. Check it out below, and if you would, share it all over the place:
How will MCF blow our minds next? Who knows…we’re just happy to be along for the ride.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
At 9:00 this Saturday night, Chicago indie darlings The Safes are coming to The Heavy Anchor to make you love them. Maybe that’s not their intent, but it will definitely be the result. Joining them will be STL garage rockers The Cripplers and Thee Fine Lines.
Come raise mason jars of adult beverages and rock out with us. $5!
Full disclosure: the last time I saw The Safes, someone almost died. Of awesome.
And should you require further convincing: The Safes also have a tender side. They recorded this bitchin’ theme song for our friend Kat:
Straight from the crazy and creative minds of Bruiser Queen‘s Jason Potter and Morgan Nusbaum comes The 12 Bassists of Christmas, a holiday spectacular featuring a cast of St. Louis musical all-stars. We’re talking choice players from bands like Pretty Little Empire, CaveofswordS, The Blind Eyes, Bunnygrunt, and more, all joining BQ on-stage WITH a giant tambourine ensemble for an unforgettable performance.
So, a bass-heavy local show being put on by one of the area’s premier guitar and drums duos…wait…what? We went to the source (J. Potter) for the skinny on this magical, goofy-ass event. Says Potter:
This show is the realization of an idea that we’ve had for well over a year. We love tambourine in a recorded and live setting, so it actually started there. Often times during shows, people will spontaneously hop on stage and sing along and shake whatever they can find during our last song, “Old Man Winter.” So, the idea of a planned bunch of people on stage with us frantically shaking it for the “World’s Largest Tambourine Ensemble” in (and out) of time completely cracked us up.
The bassists aspect stems from being a guitar/drums duo. There are advantages (ease of travel, writing, scheduling, rehearsing) of not having a bassist, but also drawbacks. Morgan was a bassist herself until we formed this band (essentially), and we’re always flirting with the idea of adding someone on bass to our line-up. St. Louis is home to so many great bassists, so it took us a year of convincing 12 of them that joining us on one song apiece would be a good idea (results pending). This is sort of our way of dipping our toe in the bassist water.
The number is an obvious play on the Twelve Days of Christmas, and lucky for us, two of our favorite and best friend bands – Middle Class Fashion and Sleepy Kitty – were available to join us for the night.
So not only are fans being treated to an amped-up (bassed-up?) Bruiser Queen performance, they’ll also be getting opening sets from MCF and SK, two of the area’s best bets time and time again when it comes to live shows. Thanks to BQ for sharing this announcement with IWTAS and our readers. We can wait to shake whatever we can find on the 14th.
In the fall of 2010, I stumbled upon a Union Tree Review show at Foam on Cherokee late one evening. I had been wandering around a bit that night – and pretty much every night that year – feeling a little lonely and trying to find a place to fit in a city I was begrudgingly starting to love. I had discovered recently a deference for live shows. Standing in a small, crowded room at Foam allowed me to feel like a part of something that was very present and inclusive, all the while remaining relatively anonymous.
I had been taking photos for this site, which was in its infancy. So at the conclusion of UTR’s set, I introduced myself to Tawaine; we made small talk and, as I was packing up to leave, he pushed a 3-song EP into my hand. Our interaction was brief, but I was supremely grateful for his generosity and for that short, beautiful sample of his band’s work.
Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of seeing Union Tree play many more sets; they grew in skill, presence, and power. They always looked happy to be on stage. I was again grateful last Tuesday night at Off Broadway, when I was able to point my lens at Tawaine and the rest of Union Tree Review as they played their last set ever. It was emotional, deftly performed, and just a generally great experience.
Thank you for a wonderful run, UTR:
More photos of Union Tree Review’s last set here.
NOTE: This week’s TWOFER is so great, we’re giving each half its own blog post. For information on another notable local album release show happening this evening, head here.
For a year or so, the young and charismatic Foxing has been developing a following in the Midwest and beyond with a few short-form releases (an EP, “Old Songs”, and two 7″ splits), slick branding/designs, a killer performance at An Under Cover Weekend, and a handful of tours. Their hard work has paid off and the band now has their debut full-length record in the cannon, ready to be let loose tonight at Firebird. Foxing talked to me about the process-to-product work on The Albatross, recording with Ryan Wasoba, and more:
Talk about choosing to record with Ryan Wasoba (and performing with him as Neutral Milk Hotel at AUCW, if you’d like). What was that experience like, learning from a young, yet veteran, STL artist?
We all consider Ryan to be one of our close friends, so it was kind of a no-brainer to work with him on The Albatross. We’ve all worked with him in the past and have a really productive and interesting working relationship with him. All said, Ryan has completely earned our trust. When we write, we have a vision for how the final product will come across; Ryan is the same way when we start recording – he has a vision for it. Collaborating with him is a very rewarding process. Ryan isn’t the kind of engineer who just sits back and hits record. He’s very invested and hands-on. He understands our pace and facilitates our desire to experiment, while at the same time keeping us grounded. I don’t know how he is with other bands, but I would venture to guess that whenever he takes on a project, he puts a lot of himself into it; you can’t really ask for more than that.
We talked a little bit about the possibility of recording our next record with someone else, and if that ends up happening I’m sure it will feel pretty foreign, so much so that if that day comes we’ve expressed the desire to bring Ryan with us as an engineer.
How did you guys get hooked up with Count Your Lucky Stars, and how does working with an out-of-town label line up with your band’s ambitions for this album and beyond?
Count Your Lucky Stars is home to so many bands that we admire. In terms of the reemergence of Midwestern punk and emo, they were always fairly ahead of the curve. Even labels that are bigger seem to constantly tip their hat to CYLS. When we were recording The Albatross, they were one of the labels that we talked about, and it was really nice that they approached us instead of the other way around. We were signed to their label while on the second-to-last day of our first tour, which was a very surreal and reassuring experience.
To make a long story short, we played a show with the owner of the label’s band and he asked to put out our record about thirty seconds after our set. For us it doesn’t matter where the label is headquartered, we want a label that understands us, cares about us, and is just as excited for our work as we are. I can say that we are very fortunate…CYLS has opened up a lot of opportunities for us.
Who designed the album art?
Kevin Russ did the photography. I would highly recommend that everyone check out his work; it’s fantastic.
The title of the record, I’m assuming, is a reference to the iconic and damning bird image so prevalent Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” rather than from Susan Hill’s novella, The Albatross. Hitting on the former, this album takes on a sweeping, hazy, nautical quality throughout thanks to hard-hitting vocals strung out across gorgeous arrangements.
Talk about using a canonical and familiar piece of literature to illuminate new pieces of art. How did you incorporate the feelings evoked from Coleridge’s work into your original writing and song constructions?
I interpret the allegory of the albatross to be a reflection on self-induced bad luck. In Coleridge’s poem, the albatross represents good fortune, so when the titular character makes a decision to shoot it down, he inadvertently affects the well-being of everyone around him.
I think that a lot of times when people are dealt a heavy hand they can defer the blame to outside sources, which may make it easier to cope, but it’s immensely more difficult to deal with bad luck when you’ve completely brought it on yourself. With our record, we felt kindred with a lot of downtrodden writers, not just Coleridge, but McCarthy, Neruda, Bukowski, Fonte, Smith, etc. However, I feel the connectivity was thematic and conceptual, rather than literal. We owe a lot of ourselves to the writers that inspire us, but at the end of the day, our album is not a genuine interpretation of anyone’s work or lives but our own. The songs are deeply personal, to the point that some of them are hard to play over and over again; it’s like bringing yourself back to that headspace every time. Concepts like isolation, distance, obsession, emotional detachment, self-demonizing behavior, stress, and longing all run rampant throughout The Albatross.
I like the symmetry of the first and last songs on the album. What was it about the contradicting vastness and containment of large bodies of water that struck you enough to make it one of the first and the absolute last image on The Albatross?
Well, for starters, I grew up in Northern California, right next to the ocean. I, personally, have always felt very much tied to it. I find that whenever I go back to the ocean, I’m immediately overwhelmed with nostalgia and a sense of calm. It’s in the sounds, the air; it’s in my blood.
There’s a duality to the ocean, however.
Sitting by the shore is one thing, but the further you go out, there’s sadness and loneliness that comes with you…the ocean is uncertain and unpredictable. When you’re out there—like really out there, with water as far as the eyes can see, surrounded by complete openness, it’s really interesting how internalized you find yourself. At least that’s how I feel. I love the idea that something as vast and enveloping as the ocean can be so kindred to the smallest idiosyncrasies of human connectivity.
We tried to use oceanic imagery throughout, as a metaphor for something unattainable and as a repeated image of a home that no longer feels like home, as well as something that separates and isolates people from one another. In regards to the first and last song, it was a conscious decision to connect the two and to have them serve as bookends to the record. I think those two connected lines are the best representation of the overall message of the album.
Finally, where and how can we get The Albatross? Will it be all ready for sale at the Firebird release show?
You can pick up the record from Count Your Lucky Stars’ webstore, our Bandcamp, at one of our shows, Amazon, Best Buy, iTunes, Spotify. Pretty much wherever.
Foxing is Conor Murphy (vocals, trumpet, piano), Eric Hudson (guitar, backing vocals), Ricky Sampson (guitar), Josh Coll (bass, backing vocals), and Jon Hellwig (drums). Details of tonight’s release show at The Firebird w/ Dots Not Feathers, Bear Hive, and Parisian can be found here.
NOTE: This week’s TWOFER is so great, we’re giving each half its own blog post. For information on another notable local album release show happening this evening, head here.
Tonight, Ellen the Felon and her Mattronome will take to the rink and release their new album, Bang Bang Bang, at St. Louis Skatium. I chatted with Ellen about the creation of the record, her storied history with her band mate, and more:
Talk to me about the making of Bang, Bang, Bang. How long did the record take to produce, where was it recorded, etc.?
It’s been about 3 years since we initially recorded Bang, Bang, Bang. We went to Firebrand Studios, which is a great studio with all the bells and whistles. Our engineer Brian Scheffer was very patient with us, seeing as at the time we had little to no experience in the studio. We were accustomed to playing live shows, so naturally we recorded live. Recording was fun and tiring, and definitely a learning experience. Matt (Matthew Reyland) and I fought like a brother and sister, and you can hear a little bit of that at the beginning of “Temple”, the last track on our album.
From where in life do you pull your songs? Are the tracks on Bang Bang Bang new, old, or a mix of both? Choose one song from the album and describe the process you went through in order to write it.
They are a mix of both, but some are reworked. When I wrote “Oh Timothy” I was in the basement of my Mom’s house, just writing and smoking cigarettes. I called my boyfriend at the time and left a voice mail. I really enjoy leaving my friends hilarious voicemails; just ask ‘em. So I left this voice mail and the beginning line is, “Oh Timothy, why won’t you pick up the phone?” I was trying to sound like a stalker. The song starts off with a voice mail and ends with me asking him why he got the cops involved. I’ve pulled from waitressing, love, fantasy, death, drinking, revenge, and friendship. I keep pulling.
Who contributed to the beautiful cover art and layout of the CD?
Alecia Hoyt is the one, and she is fucking brilliant. I had an old piano at my house and we decided that we should burn our instruments for our album cover. It was freezing, but we drank enough to warm up. Check her out at www.aleciahoyt.com.
Matt did the layout, which took up half of our rehearsal time but it was well worth it.
How did you and Matt become a band?
Matt and I went to middle school together and hung around the same crowds, but it wasn’t until we were in our early 20s that we started playing together. We played our first show at The Way Out Club and to this day I feel like it was our best. Maybe because it was our first. You know us musicians, always chasing that high. I’m kidding…kind of.
Have you ever played a show at Skatium? Tell our audience what it’s like to go to a concert at a skating rink.
Yes! The Skatium is one of the most underrated venues in St. Louis. Where else can you go and roller skate around amazing live bands while drinking? It’s dangerous and it’s fun!
Invite and show details here.
Soon, we’ll all begin to hibernate in front of the impersonal glow of our screens for the winter. Undoubtedly you’ll find yourself under a blanket one evening, on your couch, with one finger poised over the “Enter” button on the tv remote, trying to decide whether to go out to a show or to consume your 7th consecutive episode of The Walking Dead. IWTAS has heard your beleaguered cries for help and we’ve decided to reinstate our popular two-week show calendar, The Fortnightly, as a means to get you outside during the chilly months.
For the uninitiated, The Fortnightly is a hand-illustrated calendar and list of IWTAS-approved shows stretching over a two-week period that one or more of us will likely attend (or wish we could).
- Sunday, 11/10: The Lone Bellow at Old Rock House – Expect sweeping harmonies that illuminate sad songs coming from the mouths and hearts of pretty people. 75% chance of suspenders on stage.
- Monday, 11/11: PINK at Scottrade – This blond piece of pop royalty had the balls to fuel a feud with Kanye back in 2009 while she was busy changing the fabric of Top 40 music with strong, smart tunes. It’s been 13 years since Can’t Take Me Home, and the woman is still a force.
- Monday, 11/11: Cut Copy at The Pageant.
- Tuesday, 11/12: Pancake Productions Autumnal Sampler MMXIII CD Release at Lemmon’s – 5 bones for hours upon hours of local tunes played by the likes of Matt Harnish’s Pink Guitar, Town Cars, The Defeated County, Bass Amp & Dano, and The Pat Sajak Assassins, not to mention a CD chock full of rarities and unreleased tracks from the bands listed above and many more.
- Tuesday, 11/12: MGMT at The Peabody – The psychiest of modern psych in the fanciest of STL performance venues = no brainer. And there are STILL tickets available! Get at ‘em.
- Wednesday, 11/13: Washed Out at the Firebird.
- Saturday, November 16th: Vintage Vinyl Presents Joe Pug at The Firebird.
- Sunday, 11/17: Tennis + On An On at Off Broadway.
- Tuesday, 11/19: Diarrhea Planet + Bully, Boreal Hills, and Armadillo at The Gramophone – Oooph. Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet is bringing sick, slick garage rock to STL again, this time at The Gramophone, and they’re performing with a cavalcade of Tennessee (Bully) and Missouri (Boreal, ‘dillo) loudmouths. This rager is being presented by 4 Hands Brewing Co.
- Friday, 11/22: Jedi Nighties + Karate Bikini + High Scores + Junior Miss at The Gramophone – A 4-pack of killer STL bands both new and old for 7 bucks. When the Gramo’s packed with familiar faces, local shows take on a house party kind of quality (except the bar’s well-stocked) and things get awesome.
As always, be safe and we’ll see you out there.
NOTE: We know what you’re thinking: “WHERE IN THE HECK are shout outs for Ellen the Felon, what with her record release at Skatium happening on the 15th?!” and “HEY, why do you guys hate Foxing, who are sending their album out into the world on the 15th, too, but at The Firebird?!” Well, we have a special TWO-FER lined up for that very special Friday night coming later this week, so calm your sweet local band-loving selves.
Social media can be frustrating. Sometime yesterday, my friend Ellie W. posted something like /But with the emptiness of loss comes a freeing up of space inside for hope./ and I got so excited because it’s exactly the right quote to lead into this Basia Bulat show review, but now she’s deleted it. Still, it’s a beautiful line and the sentiment sticks with me. AND SO THE INTERNET MAKES IT LIVE FOREVER.
I’m a joyful human, but it’s no secret that I live for Sad Bastard music. Basia Bulat’s new record Tall Tall Shadow (Secret City Records, 2013) scratches both itches deliciously. Written around a year of mourning the loss of a friend, the formerly acoustic singer-songwriter gets loud, edgy, and electric. If you’ve ever locked yourself in the bathroom with Beck’s Sea Change and watched yourself cry in the mirror until you laughed at your own self-involved ridiculousness, this record will be your new best friend. (Just me? Really? Whatever, try it, it’s cathartic).
So you can imagine I was a little concerned about the public meltdown I was likely to endure, watching a very real person sing about powerful and dangerous feelings on one of my favorite stages on a Friday night. Did I cry? Oh yes. But I was also smiling, weirdly proud of the way we (as people, as artists) can spin suffering into something pretty enough to save someone else from suffering of their own.
Who can be sad when a 60-something couple sits in the front row, the wife snapping her fingers to the beat, the husband sipping from a PBR tallboy? With the full backing band, Basia Bulat indie-popped like a pro. I never got to see Basia’s all acoustic sets, but she seemed just as comfortable with electric organs and vocal effects as she does with her autoharp and her tiny charango.
She sang “Paris or Amsterdam” on stage by herself and wrecked faces with the worst of the strongsad. But for “The Shore,” an off-stage band member brought her a Green Bay Packers stool and she sat with her autoharp on her lap and played it with a small mallet. The novelty of the pretty noise distracted mercifully from the sadness of the song.
I thought “Tall Tall Shadow” would be the final song, but she chose to end with the somber and reflective “Never Let Me Go.” When the song wrapped, the audience rose from their seats to give a well-deserved standing ovation. Basia managed to look genuinely surprised, but there’s no way they haven’t gotten the same reception everywhere. Basia Bulat’s music is the real crack Toronto should be famous for. She never left the stage, saying thank you over and over, then sliding straight into the encore. About a quarter of the audience clapped out a rhythm for her during “Before I Knew,” though it kind of threw off the song a bit, it was still sweet.
She ended the show with a reminder to her fans that she hadn’t strayed too far from where she started, with a song she said she had vowed to stop singing, “Hush,” with which she used to open every show. She sang without a microphone, stomping and clapping for rhythm.
As Basia sings in the title track of her new record, “You can’t run away when the tall, tall shadow is yours,” but if you run toward the light instead of away from it, you can’t really see that shadow anymore, and sometimes not being able to see it is good enough.
City with No Rivers
Promise Not to Think About Love
[can’t read my own handwriting, sorry]
Paris or Amsterdam
Snakes and Ladders
Tall Tall Shadow
Never Let Me Go
Before I Knew
In the Night
Opener Foreign Fields played St. Louis for the first time last night, and I’m glad they got a great introduction to our city. If you’ve never seen them, think Simon and Garfunkel + William Fitzsimmons. It works! Loved their first song with its loop of tiny birds chirping. Hope they make it back here soon.
A lot’s been said about Deer Tick’s “transformation” over the past year or so, as leader John McCauley continues to be honest and frank about the inspiration behind the band’s new record. Turbulence and change in McCauley’s family, his romantic relationships, and his life choices as a raucous, storied star echo throughout Negativity.
The album reveals a road-seasoned band of brothers growing up and into their self-defined gritty rock ‘n roll. McCauley’s focus and drive shines, but Deer Tick has not suddenly become your grandpa’s favorite band. Controlled chaos is now the name of the game; if Divine Providence was DT’s sloppy-fun frat party, Negativity is their night at a whiskey bar.
On Sunday at 3:30pm, Deer Tick will play a very special, stripped down performance at Vintage Vinyl in Delmar prior to their 8:30pm show at Firebird. IWTAS is thrilled to be welcoming the guys to town along with VV. So if you plan on attending the in-store, have we got a deal for you!!!:
– Leave us a comment below and share your favorite memory that involves a Deer Tick song or show.
– We’ll choose a winning comment from the selection below, and buy the author of that comment a fresh, vinyl copy of Negativity from Vintage and put it in your hot little hands at the in-store on Sunday. (See? You gotta show up to get the prize.)
– The contest closes whenever we remember to check this post over the weekend, but definitely before, like, 2pm on Sunday.
Until then, enjoy this August 2013 Tick performance at KDHX’s studio with Vanessa Carlton, who guests on Negativity: