Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band

Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band (10:45 PM)

Now, Now (9:50 PM)

Harrison Hudson (9:10 PM)

The Gallery (8:30 PM)

Sat, November 2, 2013

8:00 pm

Tix $13.50 adv/ $16.00 dos

This event is all ages

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Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band - (Set time: 10:45 PM)
Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band
The first solo album I heard by Kevin Devine was a demo tape a friend gave me in 1999. The tape was pared down sound, recorded in somebody’s basement with a four-track. Hard-strumming acoustic guitar, toe-tapping percussion, a kid singing his heart out. With vocals untouched, and nothing produced, it was music in its simplest form, addictive and compelling.

But there was an additional side to Devine that I discovered when he performed in the indie rock outfit Miracle of 86, who cut their teeth at punk and hardcore shows in the ’90s. Devine could easily transform himself from singer/songwriter into a shouting, high-energy, indie rock singer.

After Miracle broke up, Devine continued to pursue a thriving solo career that has earned him an international following, releasing six studio albums to high acclaim—including Brother’s Blood (2010) and Between the Concrete and the Clouds (2011), both charting on Billboard’s Top 200 and the latter peaking at #1 on Amazon.com’s mp3 album chart. In addition, Devine’s released two Billboard-charting records as a member of Bad Books, a collaboration with the indie rock band Manchester Orchestra.

Now with the simultaneous release of Bulldozer and Bubblegum, his seventh and eighth studio albums, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter attempts two drastically different sounds on two separate recordings in a dual-album project independently funded through a historically successful Kickstarter campaign.

Bulldozer is laced with electric folk-rock and pop ballads produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck, Guided by Voices).

Bubblegum, produced by Jesse Lacey of Brand New, is a proper rock band record, a sound evolved from Devine’s early days in Miracle of 86; a charging record loaded with feedback, overdriven guitars and unexpectedly memorable hooks that bring to mind the best of the Pixies.

“After Miracle broke up,” said Devine, “I’d write two songs per record that would have been Miracle songs. And when you’re opening for rock bands like I was for so many years, [my band] got really good at pedal-to-the-floor rock…. I had the notion to make two different records, two different ways at the same time.”

While writing 22 new songs and touring with Bad Books in fall 2012, Devine wrestled with uneasiness over the ethics of using a Kickstarter model to fund an established artist. He was, however, deeply disillusioned by his experiences inside the traditional label system; in the late months of 2012, as he continued to write, Devine’s discomfort with the Kickstarter idea receded. He proceeded with the belief that he would be doing something different and true, placing his trust in his audience to guide him.

“I’ve made six records. In America they’ve been released on five different labels. It’s a pretty unstable industry… What’s made it a sustainable and a justifiable career for me has been the audience and their close, passionate connection to the music.”

The Kickstarter campaign launched in January 2013, and immediately his audience answered back: within eight hours of the 45-day campaign’s launch, his target financing of 50K to produce, record, and tour both records was met, allowing Bulldozer and Bubblegum to be made and released with complete independence. But it didn’t stop there. Devine’s audience surpassed his expectations, and by the end of the 45-day Kickstarter campaign, he had raised $114,805, more than double his initial target.

“When that audience tells you to keep doing it and here’s the money, it almost renders a very crass thing – the exchange of money over the creative process – into a staggeringly humbling and encouraging experience. When this happened, I felt so motivated I dove into making the records.”

From there Devine set out to make what he had called LP7 (Bulldozer) and LP8 (Bubblegum) on his own terms.

Bulldozer

The ten songs that comprise Bulldozer, Devine’s acoustic album, were recorded in L.A. from March to April 2013 and produced by frequent collaborator Rob Schnapf. With Devine on guitar, Schnapf gathered a stellar group of musicians to back him—Russell Pollard and Elijah Thomson (Everest) on drums and bass, respectively; Isobel Campbell (Belle & Sebastian) on backup vocals; and Schnapf himself on guitar, mellotron, and percussion.

The commanding big sound of “Now: Navigate!” with its chiming guitars, tongue-in-cheek wordplay, is a stampede of power pop, as is the quintessential rock/pop sound of “Little Bulldozer.” Songs like “She Can See Me” bring out Devine’s punk rock roots.
“From Here” was written in the days after Hurricane Sandy when Devine put things on hold to volunteer around Staten Island, where he partially grew up, and Brooklyn, where he now lives. Primarily, he came to the aid of two close friends who had lost their homes in the hurricane. Devine aided in food and material drives and played in benefit concerts.
“But it’s one of those things no matter how much you do it never seems enough.” On “For Eugene,” centered around the death of Eugene Contrubis, one of the many who drowned on Staten Island, Isobel Campbell, known most popularly from Belle & Sebastian, lends her voice to add a moving layer to a song that swells to high emotional peaks.

Bubblegum

During the Fall of 2012, as Devine wrote and recorded demos of the twenty-two songs, he divided his catalog into two camps: the acoustic based songs he would record with Schnapf in L.A., and the songs he would record with Jesse Lacey in New York, some of which were written on bass guitar.

Bubblegum, Devine’s “pedal-to-the-floor” rock album, is the product of his special collaboration with Jesse Lacey of Brand New as producer, shaping and writing alongside Mike Fadem on drums and Mike Strandberg on guitar, the two members of his touring group the Goddamn Band. The album was finished in April 2013, recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios in Hurley, NY and at Atomic Heart Studios in New York City.

The twelve songs on Bubblegum create a hard-driving, angular, and mature indie rock sound. Set to Pixie-like guitar riffs and socially conscious, politically bombastic lyrics, as evident on “Fiscal Cliff,” this is a side of Devine that screams and shouts itself over the feedback. “Nobel Prize” is a head-bouncing intro that captures the record’s relentless energy. “Private First Class,” based on the imprisonment Bradley Manning for leaking classified documents in Iraq, is a surf/punk- sounding anthem of the highest-measure. But even high-octane rock records need to slow down, and Devine does so on tracks like “I Can’t Believe You” and “Red Bird” without losing consistency or steam.

The record’s most poppy tracks hit back to back with “Bloodhound,” “Bubblegum,” and “Sick of Words,” a catchy song that sounds as if Devine assembled Black Francis, Kim Deal, and Jackson Browne to back him—testament to the Goddamn Band’s musicianship provided by Fadem and Strandberg, with a debt to Lacey who also steps in on bass and percussion, and backup vocals.

*

Things have changed in the fourteen years since I heard that first Kevin Devine demo. Bulldozer and Bubblegum mark a new way to make music. With this simultaneous dual-album release in the fashion of Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Bright Eyes, Devine knocks down an old studio model with his audience’s participation. These twenty-two songs in total weave back and forth through our American landscape with bravado, heart, energy, and austerity. The delicacy of Bulldozer delights at every turn, every strum, every word, while Bubblegum turns the volume high, taking you in and out of time, a rock record nonpareil. Listen to them loud.

—Alex Gilvarry, author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
Now, Now - (Set time: 9:50 PM)
Now, Now
The title of Now, Now’s first new album in half a decade begs the obvious question… Saved from what? They certainly didn’t seem like a band that needed saving after the release of their 2012 LP Threads. When the world last heard from Now, Now, they had made their late night TV debut with Jimmy Fallon, and landed tours and shows with bands including Fun. and Bob Mould, among others. For better or worse, the usual path for any band that seems like they’re on the cusp of a break through is to strike while the iron is hot. That is, to hurry back to the studio to work with a proven producer known for having a hand in a few big records. Bands and artists that find themselves in this situation are compelled to “go big, or go home,” and in Now, Now’s case they did just that, they went home.

It might not have been planned that way, but that’s where they ended up-- back in Minneapolis without a clear sense of how to move forward. Despite any success or acclamation earned up to that point, self-doubt set in, and a crippling writers block entrenched itself further. Weeks became months, and months dissolved into years, all while the band’s modest but fervent fanbase were left to speculate on social media as to what was behind the silence. At a particularly low point relates KC, “I felt like I was pursuing the wrong dream, that maybe something else would reveal itself to me.”

She felt pressure from both herself and those around her so immense that it froze her. “It felt like everyone was mistaking how much I was obsessing over the album for not caring about the album, but in reality I was putting too much pressure on myself to be able to write. So it felt like everyone was angry with me on top of me feeling like I was ruining my career and disappointing myself.” As a result she reveals, “I had some very difficult conversations with myself and with people close to me who were worried about my happiness.”

“I still carry a little bit of guilt for adding to that stress that KC is talking about,” reveals Brad. “After a year of people around us asking ‘why is the album not done, your career is about to just be over,’ I as well started to question my career choice, to question my talent, and I started buying into this idea that KC wasn't working, even though I was right there watching her work. That's something I'm embarrassed by and wish I could take back. But through that we got stronger as friends and collaborators, and I learned the hard way that the only reason we make music is for ourselves.”

Following a few years of frustration and introspection however, the ice began to crack while tracking the single “SGL.” “The production on that song was completely different at first,” recalls Brad. “It didn't have that main acoustic guitar part, and it never felt right. But one day I picked up an acoustic, turned off all the guitars we had already recorded and just played, and that came out. It felt so natural. It was also the first time I felt KC be excited about hearing the way her voice sounded. There was suddenly a new confidence in the way she sung her words.”

As trying as it was for Now, Now, and as baffling as it may have seemed to those on the outside looking in, this intense period of self-examination ended up bringing us the record we have today. No doubt a better one than might have come to pass had they managed to turn one around more quickly. The pair that had met in marching band and begun writing and recording songs together over a decade ago as teens, hadn’t yet been forced to set aside time to discover themselves. It was something they needed to do before they could advance.

Part of that discovery process involved their sound as well. “It took me a lot of time to explore different production techniques to really find what worked for us,” says Brad, who in between Threads and Saved further developed his skill set behind the boards through a solo record under the moniker Sombear and work with other artists. “Figuring out how to make my voice sound has been a pivotal piece of us finding our sound again too,” explains KC. “We also tried to keep everything as timeless as possible. We are very influenced by classic pop and classic songwriting, and were inspired by the power and sustainability those types of songs have.” The guiding principle on Saved they agree, was to trust themselves and to not turn away from anything just because it was too far removed from their past material. “I was definitely scared at the start of the process to go outside of that box,” says Brad, “but I wanted to so bad. Once we really followed our own vision is really when things started coming together quickly.”

“I know it’s been a long road,” says KC, “ but I wouldn’t change any part of it. If we had put an album out right after Threads, we wouldn’t have gone through that period of self-discovery. I think we would’ve continued to stifle our emotions and hide the fact that we were struggling as much as we were. We needed to hit rock bottom. In order to rebuild and come back stronger than before. I think we might have made an album that was timid and vague and unchallenging. But I know that’s not what we were meant to do.”

Saved is anything but “timid and vague,” boasting the most direct songwriting and transparent lyrics the band have ever written by a mile. “I’d never felt comfortable being myself. I always felt like I needed to hide behind something,” says KC. “‘Back to the heart of it all’ from the song ‘AZ’ is the most important conceptual lyric for this album. This is the most exposed I’ve ever been lyrically. I’ve never been this open.” It’s also no small coincidence that the lyric speaks to the pair’s return to their writing and recording roots as well. While they initially started out in the studio, after completing “SGL” they finished the rest of Saved while working on ideas and tracking the album in their basements together, just as they had on their first recordings back in high school. When everything was done, with a fair bit of relief they sent the record on to Andy Park in Seattle for mixing.

The only people who know the full extent of the meaning behind Saved’s title are Brad and KC, but it’s clear to see that salvation for them, at least in part, involved escaping the constraints of their own hangups and insecurities. All so that they might be free to grow into the people and artists we see and hear today on their new album. After such an arduous process, “it’s been really validating to see people on the internet and hear people at shows say they feel like the new songs are exactly the way they hoped we’d go,” says KC. “We're lucky to have fans that care not only about the music, but about us as people,” adds Brad. “It blows my mind to hear people tell us their different stories about how they found out about us. It's those moments that really keep me going. We feel really lucky that people connect with our music in such a deep and personal way.”
Harrison Hudson - (Set time: 9:10 PM)
Harrison Hudson
"Jack come back/bring back with you the America even outsiders loved/ the America of open highways/the America of boundless forests/the America of sunsets by the river-pier/ an America generous of spirit." - Jack Kerouac, 'Gentleness'
The American rock n’ roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s ran on raw, unfiltered emotion, and was driven by ardent soul. The muscle cars, steel mechanics, and never ending high
ways were the image, but the spirit was inherit in the far reaching melodies and layered vocals -- the ideal at the heart of American Thunder, Harrison Hudson's third full-length album. Behind the languishing spacious guitars and the overall smooth vibe there is Hudson himself, sharing the best moments of the American rock radio that lavished his childhood.

Formed in 2005 in Atlanta, GA Harrison Hudson began as a songwriter backed by a band. In 2006 his debut Angel On One Side…And the Other On The Other displayed a dark shade, a monument of Hudson’s life at the time, but by 2008 Harrison Hudson had become a full band, a trio that found a new home in Nashville, TN releasing the no-frills, full volume, Blood, Sweat, and Sweat. As soon as recording was finished Hudson began writing again, 70 songs that would be sliced down to an integral 12 of pop hooks and rock twist free of overbearing romantic gestures, the shape of American Thunder.

In one aspect American Thunder can construed as one love story, one that goes bad as the girl just must leave, but that’s a stretch as even the hyperbole romantic gestures of the more light-hearted songs (Bookstore Girl, Indie Rock N Roll Queen) can’t take the sarcastic cynical voice that lies in the punch line of other tracks (Stay, Fire and Fizzle Part Two). This voice is the grounding point of the album, the reality of relationships brought to the front.

"It's the kind of thing where you see a beautiful girl and she's definitely the answer,” Hudson describes the voice. “When she turns out to be just another human being like you, you resent her for it because she's is not perfect like you expected--and no one is."

To keep the spirit of the gritty early days of Rock N’ Roll without ending up with a throwback record the band entered a modern studio with Kevin Dailey and Micah Tawlks behind the boards. To jump into an old rock studio of AM radio glory in Nashville would have been easy, but the end album would have been a plastic design. The old idea lost in a chase to recreate.

American Thunder accomplishes the goal. The spirit of the old days of Rock N’ Roll radio have been captured and embraced, not re-manufactured.
The Gallery - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
The Gallery
The Gallery’s bio goes something like this: Hook-laden rock songs that combine a mix of mainstream appeal and professionalism with indie cred and likeability. Their brand of guitar-driven, southern-infused pop rock blurs the lines between authenticity and commerciality, producing songs that are refined and disarmingly catchy. A subtly biting guitar sound, simple, road-worn lyricism and consistently sharp musicianship transform their tracks into instantly memorable pop gems you don’t want out of your head.

The foursome, Brendan Cooney (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan Cooney (drums), Dave Mozdzanowski (bass/bg vocals) and Ben Lozano (lead guitar) have maintained their hometown fan base in New England, while building a similar following in Southern Florida, where they resided for three years. In 2009, the band set out on the road for their first national tour – a full 50 dates across 25 different states. Since then, they’ve expanded their fan base across the country, playing shows from Florida to Washington and California to Massachusetts. In the past six months alone, the band has performed with such well-known acts as Rooney, The Maine and We the Kings. The Gallery takes pride in sharing their music and passion with fans at live shows. It’s not hard to see or hear why.

Beneath The Gallery’s mainstream veneer is an unexpected lyrical maturity that transcends the group’s young age. They explore the spaces between growing up and following dreams, and between falling in and out of love, writing songs that are both meaningful and instantly relatable. This fall, the band recorded five new songs with producer Warren Huart (The Fray, Augustana, Hot Hot Heat) at Swing House Studios in Hollywood. From the catchy hooks of “Catalyst” to the thought-provoking lyrics of “Who’s in the Right” and the haunting melodies of “Ballroom of Broken Hearts,” the new tracks reveal a band expanding and sharpening its sound. Keep an eye out for tour dates this spring, and an exciting year in 2011.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change