The Bowery Presents
Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns

Porcelain Raft, Bleached

Tue, January 31, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Webster Hall

New York, NY

This event is 18 and over

Smith Westerns
Smith Westerns
In the four itinerant years since their self-titled debut, Smith Westerns have grown unphased by the rigors of touring. The melodic indie-rock group—whose latest album, Soft Will, drops June 25—has tested its mettle (and passed) with pivotal opening slots for MGMT and Wilco, not to mention high-profile stints in front of the itchy, overbaked masses at Coachella and Lollapalooza. Yet, come February 2012, after finishing up a whopping 140 dates to promote their second album (the critically hailed Dye It Blonde), Smith Westerns were apprehensive about returning home to headline a gig in their native Chicago.

When Smith Westerns finally arrived home, friends they looked forward to seeing had moved, and clubs they once frequented had disappeared. All the while, on the road, singer-guitarist Cullen Omori, bassist-brother Cameron Omori, and guitarist Max Kakacek had grown from—as they say in music parlance—boys to men. Everything, now, was ominously different.

This intersection between success and post-tour unrest culminates in the band’s third full-length, Soft Will, produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and the first to feature new drummer Julien Ehrlich, formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It starts with “3am Spiritual,” the album’s dreamy opener. “You’re creating your own future,” says Cullen, “and lot of the ideas on the record were reactive. For a long time, you’re playing music every night where you’re bringing the party. And you go from having something to do every day to…nothing.”

Bummed out, he penned the song during the spring of 2012 on a mini-keyboard in the most mundane of places: his parent’s kitchen. “The lyrics came right away. It was supposed to be this uplifting ballad, to make myself feel better,” Cullen says. The song likewise marked a turning point for the group.“We decided to challenge ourselves with making songs that we hadn’t really done before,” explains Max. “With ‘3am Spiritual’ we didn’t want it to be as immediately poppy. It was more a progression of ideas, designed to build up to a big chorus.”

There’s a cool metamorphosis that pervades Soft Will. For instance, its first single, the shimmering, lovesick “Varsity,” actually began as an acoustic track that doubles as a tongue-and-cheek reference to being referred to as a high-school band by the press. “Then in the studio, it just came out as a mid-tempo pop song.” Max notes, adding, “There was an improvisation to some songs, that lead to them being catchier.”

They recorded the meat of Soft Will at Sonic Ranch, a live-in recording studio located 30 minutes outside of El Paso, Texas and a stone’s throw from the Mexican border. “It was like going to summer camp,” Cullen offers. They loved the isolation. “We pretty much stayed on the ranch and cranked them out,” says Cameron.

Soft Will, in kind, is an album of frontiers: mellifluous guitars, confident restraint, and pensive songwriting. But to Smith Westerns, recording an album about dreading their homestead feels almost like an interlude—because they can’t wait to play those songs on the road. “Sitting around doing nothing for a while,” admits Cameron, “it can be nerve-wracking.”
Porcelain Raft
Porcelain Raft
Permanent Signal: according to Wikipedia, “a condition in which a phone line is off-hook without connection for an extended period of time.”
It’s a term that Mauro Remiddi returned to repeatedly when reflecting on the time between last year’s release of Strange Weekend, the multi-instrumentalist’s debut full-length as Porcelain Raft, and this, its proper follow-up. “In a way, growing up in Italy, then living for 12 years in London, and now two and a half years in New York, made me realize that I have some dear friends I rarely see,” explains Remiddi. “I was touring almost non-stop for eight months and I started having these imaginary conversations in my head with people I wanted to communicate with, but for one reason or another it couldn’t happen. This is where the album title came from: the idea of a signal that says the line is off."
Remiddi began working on Permanent Signal at the end of 2012, two months after returning from tour. It became a period of readjustment in which he was beginning to enjoy everyday comforts and reconnecting with friends, yet the thoughts of those unrealized conversations during his recent travels were still fresh in his mind. Inspired by this surreal moment of transition, where the reality of finally being home was still overshadowed by lingering feelings of detachment, he sold almost all of the instruments used for Strange Weekend in order to “start with a new color palette.”
This is immediately apparent in Permanent Signal’s opener, "Think Of The Ocean". The dense, basement-recorded haze of his last full-length has been traded for a spacious melancholy, where cello, piano and drums gently spiral atop the faint pulsing tone, mirroring the album’s title. While layers of synths and electronics still play a role, the new record is far more organic than Porcelain Raft’s previous releases. According to Remiddi, this was an intentional move: “I wanted to record in the studio just to capture the guitars and drums properly, and to have some real input from musicians I respected and loved to hang with." Remiddi enlisted support from Yuck’s Jonny Rogoff on drums, Antlers' bassist Darby Cicci (who also contributed double vocals and trumpet, and engineered the sessions in his Brooklyn studio), and cellist Gaspar Claus (frequent collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner of The National).
Porcelain Raft’s once gauzy pop has now turned as vivid as a waking dream. During “Minor Pleasure,”Remiddi finds catharsis amidst the processed drone of organ and piano, echoing the gospel-dosed psychedelia of Spiritualized, and concedes in his otherworldly tenor that “there’s nothing hidden in what we see, sometimes you just have to let it in”. Meanwhile, the radiant lull of “Night Birds” reaches cosmic bliss, with a poignant sense of nostalgia brought about by the song’s crystalline guitars and synthesizers. There are tracks like “Cluster” and the haunting, Lennon-esque “I Lost Connection”, which deal directly with lives either on hold or in transition -- all universal themes of the human condition that allow the listener to fill in their own personal experiences with a permanent signal.
Bleached
Bleached
On the heels of three well-received singles comes Ride Your Heart, the bombastic debut album by LA band Bleached. Sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin match their ability to blend a mix of freewheeling ’77 punk with vintage sunny Southern California melodic rock and roll; creating blindingly bright hooks and dark heartfelt lyrics about love, loss, and all the crazy fun moments in between. That’s the goal: the sugary and sour, repurposed by two aggressively harmonic musicians and songwriters, stepping into a new visceral dimension of sound. Their full length debut epitomizes this movement – gritty, raw, adventurous and frenzied, tossing you out onto the dance floor, hair mussed from make-outs, cigarette still dangling from fingertips.

Raised up deep in the San Fernando Valley, their suburban isolation nurtured a frenzied creativity, as they started making their own music at a young age. Sneaking into punk shows over the hill in Hollywood, they became teenaged underground scene staples at all-ages Downtown DIY venue, The Smell. “Me and Jen were punk kids who weren’t taught how to play instruments,” says Jessie. “We taught ourselves how to play, out in the garage.” Eventually signing to Kill Rock Stars and Post Present Medium, their all-girl punk band Mika Miko drew international acclaim, landing slots on tours with No Age, Black Lips, and The Gossip.

Bleached originally formed when the Clavin sisters resolved to continue working with each other upon the break up of Mika Miko. Plans were postponed when the sisters joined other bands. (Jennifer relocated to New York and toured extensively, and Jessie began to play with various bands in LA.) But in the fleeting moments they found together back home, the songs that became Bleached’s early 7” singles came together. Since Jennifer moved back to her hometown, Bleached now serves as both girls’ chief creative outlet. “I was going crazy being in someone else’s band,” remarked Jennifer. “Me and Jessie are so proud and happy to be able to focus on our own music, together.”

As a whole, the twelve tracks on Ride Your Heart reveal the many facets of Bleached’s music in a delirious vortex of playful harmonies, tangled guitars, and golden noise. Each song brings a new element, while also imbibing the classic moods of bands as varied and iconic in nature as The Ramones and The Cars to The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. From the syncopated backbeat and two-part chorus of “Dead In Your Head,”, the rolling riffs and sparkling melodies of “Searching Through The Past” and the pulsating energy and urgency of “Dreaming Without You” and “Outta My Mind”, Bleached take you on a sweeping emotional rollercoaster that churns and burns. Ride Your Heart is a thrilling, beating, glorious wall of sound strong enough to withstand its own impact.

Press

“Lead single of their 7" off Art Fag Records which drops 7/17, “Think of You” sounds like The Misfits and says something that sounds small but is actually big: that it’s scary to tell a boy that you love him because it’s hard — probably impossible in the long run — to guarantee that affection is mutual. It does this in less than three minutes, and when it’s over, you immediately want to relearn the lesson” — Fader

“Think of You” is a Strummy heartbreaker that finds them in much less abrasive territory” — Pitchfork

“If you swept up all the vegan muffin crumbs and other detritus from the Smell’s floor, combined it with some sawdust from a dirtbag country bar where Merle Haggard once drunkenly two-stepped, and then threw in some tangy candy bits only found at a little corner store around the way from where Joey Ramone’s grandmother lived, you’d have something like Bleached” — LA Times

“Think Of You,” is bouncy, sunny punk-pop” — Stereogum

“We’ve just found a new band to blast the entire way to the beach… we’re already giving them a prime slot in our summer soundtrack” — Nylon
Venue Information:
Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
New York, NY, 10003
http://www.websterhall.com/