The Antlers

The Antlers (10:00 PM)

Yellow Ostrich (9:00 PM)

Sat, July 12, 2014

8:00 pm

$20.00

Sold Out

This event is all ages

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The Antlers - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
The Antlers
In seven years together, Brooklyn’s The Antlers have created a quiet revolution in thought and sound with their harrowing and often haunted tales of love unmoored, human frailty and emotional evisceration.

On Familiars, their fifth album, The Antlers – vocalist / guitarist Peter Silberman, multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci, and drummer Michael Lerner – have resumed the journey they began with 2009’s Hospice and continued over the next two albums Burst Apart and Undersea, which found the trio picking their way through a labyrinth of fear, doubt, love and loss against a backdrop of layered textural songs that were as deeply atmospheric as they were anthemic.

More hopeful in mood than its predecessors, the new album emanates a palpable release of despair and an almost operatic verve on nine songs that took shape over the past year and a half.

Familiars moves the Antlers’ emotional and spiritual odyssey further, alongside a palette of sounds that soar and retreat under a canopy of electronic trappings and the steady arrhythmic heartbeat of Lerner’s unnerving drumming. A choir of funereal horns function as a second voice across the songs.

“I wrote the trumpet arrangements as a sort of emotional antagonist,” explains Cicci. “In some ways it acts as more of conscience to an otherwise omniscient narrator. Other times, it’s about giving a voice and personality to the dark, unsympathetic nature of reality, as an obstacle to the narrator’s quest for enlightenment.”

This duality is a persistent force throughout the record, guiding an exploration of the divided self and giving rise to the idea of a Familiar — rather like a guardian angel, your shadow, or your consciousness.

“If there was ever a time when you felt completely lost and you were able to appear to yourself, to give yourself advice and shed light on your situation, what would that be like?” asks Silberman.

Familiars not only shows what that would be like, it demonstrates how that’s achieved over the arc of nine songs.

“I wanted to explore that conversation we’re constantly having with ourselves throughout our lives. So I began to write and sing as two sides of the same person, as estranged twins trying to find each other in a shared mind, and eventually traveling together through a maze of malleable memories.”

“For awhile, I’ve been focused on what it means to be present, and how difficult that can be, living in a world created by your past. The past can be a comfortingly painful place, and it’s easy to get stuck there. In that sense, I think of Familiars as a rescue mission.”

It took The Antlers a year and a half to transform that world into a symbolic and musical language. Recorded by the band at their studio in Brooklyn, Familiars represents an evolution in the band’s musicianship and creative process.

“I’m not sure we really were having any kind of synchronicity back when we started the record. We came together into that through the recording,” says Cicci.

“We became really obsessed with Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda, Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, and Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew,” he adds. “In the context of starting a record, they represented an almost spiritual self-expression, fugue-like repetition of themes, and the liberation of using pure discovery as a finished work.”

“We wanted to connect to the humanity of music from the past,” adds Silberman. “To capture grace and the heart within those performances.”

So this time around The Antlers made a soul record in the truest sense of the word. Sure, they inundated themselves with Al Green, Nina Simone, and The Memphis Boys, but really they were making music about that mysterious and ineffable part of yourself. The metaphysics behind the physics: They found that they had made a record that was able to express the unseen.
Yellow Ostrich - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Yellow Ostrich
Before starting on songwriting for Yellow Ostrich's latest album, singer/guitarist Alex Schaaf moved into the band's Brooklyn practice space and immersed himself in the study of such astronomers as Carl Sagan and Frank Drake. Keeping up his day job of digitizing people's old home films by day, Schaaf devoted the next 9 months to exploring the depths of the galaxy from a tiny windowless room, whose lighting he altered to reflect the arrival and passing of daylight each morning and night. Around the same time, Yellow Ostrich drummer/percussionist Michael Tapper ventured into the infinite in a much more literal sense by departing on a sailing trip from Mexico to Hawaii that left him out at sea for nearly a month. Borrowing its title from Sagan's 1980 PBS series, Cosmos expands Yellow Ostrich's intensely guitar-driven alt-rock with dreamy electronic arrangements to mirror the mood of Schaaf and Tapper's retreats away from the everyday world. While the album embodies a sense of both wonder and isolation, Yellow Ostrich's refined melodies and dense yet delicate sonic textures make Cosmos as powerfully intimate as it is dynamic.

"Something I really like about the Carl Sagan way of thinking is how it's a very unironic and sincere amazement at how the world works," says Schaaf, who began Yellow Ostrich as a solo project at age 21. "One of the main things I was thinking about in writing this album is how to take that viewpoint and bring it into real-world life," he adds. "It's one thing to be reading all these books and watching all these movies in a very small room, or–as Michael did–to go out and live under the stars for a while. But trying to inject that pure amazement into day-to-day living in a big city is something completely different."

The follow-up to Yellow Ostrich's 2012 EP Ghost, Cosmos captures that uneasy tension by merging raw guitar riffs, lush atmospherics, brain-bending electro effects, sweetly ethereal harmonies, and earnest but unsettling lyrics. Engineered by Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Superchunk, Sparklehorse) and mixed by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.), the album saw its inception when Schaaf sketched out skeletal versions of his songs, then brought them to Tapper to begin fleshing out beats and arrangements. Having delved into the work of early-Krautrock and 70's synth bands while on tour the previous year, Schaaf and Tapper set to broadening their sound with locked grooves and textures inspired by artists like Neu!, Kluster, and Kraftwerk. For more help in crafting the sonics of Cosmos, Schaaf and Tapper recruited bassist Zach Rose and keyboardist/guitarist Jared van Fleet (who stepped in soon after the departure of multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez). With Rose and van Fleet further shaping the songs and helping the band to realize their vision, the new lineup of Yellow Ostrich recorded most of Cosmos in the same rehearsal space where Schaaf was living.

Opening Cosmos with the ominous "Terrors" and closing with the hushed, hymnlike "Don't Be Afraid," Yellow Ostrich lace together electronic elements and organic instrumentation to build a mood that's sometimes gloomy, sometimes euphoric, and often an inextricable mix of the two. Throughout the album, Schaaf's fascination with Earth and beyond plays out both literally and as metaphor: there's songs like "In the Dark" (a stark and dreamlike meditation on the journey of NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts), as well as "Shades" (whose urgent guitar lines and frantic piano reflect the anxiety that Schaaf imagines many people felt upon seeing the first published photos of Earth and "realizing how small and insignificant we really are"). Although that fascination bears an undercurrent of lonely melancholy, Cosmos also achieves its own strange brand of bliss on songs like "How Do You Do It" (a joyfully woozy track whose bombastic chorus serves as a diatribe against self-delusion).

One of the album's most exhilarating numbers, "Any Wonder" pairs a swirling soundscape and questioning lyrics that closely encapsulate the thematic heart of Cosmos ("I'm gonna try hard to tear it all apart/I wanna be stunned, don't you?"). In writing "Any Wonder," Schaaf again tapped into Carl Sagan's careful illumination of the romantic side of science. "A lot of people have this idea that when you explain something, you take away the magic and mystery of it," says Schaaf. "But sometimes the actual science of what happens is way more magical than any fiction we could invent on our own."

For the Cosmos cover art, Yellow Ostrich selected a photograph by Bas Jan Ader, a Dutch artist who created a series of videos in which the force of gravity served as his main medium. An inspiration for "Things Are Fallin'" (the album's epic penultimate track, which starts as a tenderly off-kilter ballad before shifting into a sprawling rock song and finally dissolving into eerie noise), Ader's work also helped Yellow Ostrich tease out that elusive connection between the cosmic and the everyday. "We're living in a time when we're all split up into such small subcultures and everyone has their own personalized digital worlds, which can make it easy to lose touch with the basic principles that rule our lives," Schaaf says. "There's so much that connects all of us and makes us all the same. No matter who you are, gravity's always going to bring you down. I think there's something really beautiful in that."
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change