Tag: Lower Dens

Formed back in 2010, the acclaimed Baltimore-based dream pop act Lower Dens can trace its origins to when its primary songwriter and founding member Jana Hunter had grown tired of touring and decided to take a hiatus. For what was supposed to be their final tour as a solo artist, Hunter recruited a backing band which featured Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams. Finding that playing with a band was much more enjoyable to them than playing as a solo artist, helped Hunter form Lower Dens. “During that tour, I realized that it wasn’t the touring life that I hated, but more so that the kind of music I wrote as a solo artist wasn’t something I felt entirely comfortable sharing in performance setting. Lower Dens then was the eventual result of the decision to make music with the specific intention of sharing and enjoying it with others,” Hunter said at the time.

Lower Dens’ full-length debut, Twin Hand Movement was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who compared Hunter’s vocals to those of PJ Harvey and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand and Dusted Magazine, who praised the album’s lyrics for being “delivered without irony, yet self-aware enough to appreciate the obviousness.” While touring to support Twin Hand Movement, the band began writing on the road — but the limitations of writing on the road forced Hunter to work through a laptop and keyboard rather than a guitar, which lead to an increasing presence of synths on what would become their sophomore album Nootropics.

After they completed their tour, the band chose to record their sophomore album at The Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI.  Hunter cited the studio’s remote location as an imperative part of the writing and recording process. Geoff Graham added that the amount of time spent in the studio allowed them to add extra dimensions to the material to make it lusher and thicker. Largely influenced by Kraftwerk‘s Radioactivity, Fripp and Eno and David Bowie‘s production on Iggy Pop‘s The IdiotNootropics was released to critical praise from the likes of PitchforkRolling Stone and Spin

Building upon a growing profile, Lower Dens opened for Beach House and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo at the Baltimore stop of the legendary act’s  2013 Fade tour. And the following month, they released “Non Grata” on a split 7″ with Baltimore-based band Horse Lords, an effort that was released as part of the Famous Class LAMC series, which benefited VH1’s Save The Music Foundation

2015 saw the release of the band’s third album Escape from Evil, which continued a run of critically applauded albums. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes — with the band now being a duo featuring its founding member and primary songwriter Jana Hunter and Nate Nelson. And during that period, the members of Lower Dens had been working on their highly-anticipated follow up to Escape from Evil, The Competition.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Ribbon Music, and the album is reportedly a pop album with an emotionally and politically urgent concept at its core. Competition, by design is the driving force of modern capitalism and the title is Hunnter’s term for a socio-psychological phenomenon that competition generates — a kind of psychosis that accelerates and amplifies our insecurities and anxieties to the point of overload. And as a result our intimacies, our communities and even our senses of self are corroded and distorted. “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset.  I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.”

Interestingly, The Competition‘s third and latest single is the atmospheric and slow-burning synth pop “Galapagos.” Centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook, four-on-the-floor drumming and Hunter’s achingly tender vocals, the song evokes an unfulfilled and plaintive longing while sonically recalling Kate Bush and Siouxsie and the Banshees. And it may arguably be one of the most cinematic-leaning songs the act has released to date.

The members of Lower Dens recently announced that they’ll be hitting the road to support their new album. They’ll be opening for Of Monsters And Men for most of the tour with the exception of a three special album releases shows in Los Angeles and Baltimore. The tour will include a September 5, 2019 stop at Radio City Music Hall. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

Tour dates – all dates opening for Of Monsters And Men except where noted:
08/31/19 Baltimore, MD @ Rituals *

09/01/19 Baltimore, MD @ Rituals *

09/04/19 Washington, DC @ The Anthem

09/05/19 New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall

09/08/19 Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion

09/10/19 Philadelphia, PA @ Metropolitan Opera House

09/11/19 Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage

09/13/19 Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom

09/14/19 Minneapolis, MN @ Surly Brewing Festival Field

09/16/18 Denver, CO @ The Mission Ballroom

09/17/19 Ogden, UT @ Ogden Twilight

09/19/19 Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl

09/20/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room *

09/22/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium

09/24/19 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater

09/26/19 Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater

09/27/19 Troutdale, OR @ McMenamins Edgefield

09/28/19 Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre

10/19/19 Maspeth, NY @ Pitchfork Octfest ^

11/01/19 Houston, TX @ Axelrad Beer Garden *

11/02/19 Mexico City, MX @ RadioBosque Festival ^

* Lower Dens headline show

^ without Of Monsters And Men

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Deeply influenced by The Breeders, T-Rex, punk rock, psych rock and New Wave, the Wilmington, DE-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Grace Vonderkuhn has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of psych rock, garage rock and guitar pop; in fact, back in 2015, I wrote about Vonderkuhn’s slow-burning, brooding, and lysergic cover of The Psychedelic Furs‘ “Love My Way.” Adding to a growing profile, over the past year, the Wilmington, DE-based singer/songwriter and her backing band, which features Brian Bartling (bass) and Dave Mcgrory (drums) has opened for the likes of Titus Andronicus, Lower Dens and blogosphere darlings Sheer Mag among others.

“Worry,” the first single off Vonderkuhn’s forthcoming full-length album, slated for a February release through Egghunt Records features some muscular and self-assured power chords paired with angular and driving bass chords, forceful drumming within a 90s alt rock song structure —  alternating quiet verses and loud choruses, arena rock friendly hooks, an explosive and cathartic bridge and a fade out into the song’s coda.  Though it clearly owes debts to the aforementioned Breeders, Veruca Salt and others in the 120 Minutes-era MTV universe, the song, as Vonderkuhn explained to the folks at GoldFlakePaint is an “anthem for over-thinkers” with the song’s narrator attempting to  act as a calming counterweight, as she constantly reminds herself that maybe she shouldn’t be worrying as much as she does about everything, that some things are just beyond your control. And as a result, Vonderkuhn’s latest is a deceptive and mischievously modern take on a beloved and familiar song and aesthetic.

 

 

Earlier this month, I wrote about Joseph W. Salusbury, an up-and-coming Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter and producer, who has a number of songwriting and production credits including cowrites on Majid Jordan‘s “Something About You” and Illangelo‘s “Your Future’s Not Mine, and vocal production on Nelly Furtado and Blood Orange‘s “Hadron Collider;” however, earlier this year, Salusbury stepped out from behind the production desk with his solo recording project Joseph of Mercury and three singles “Without Words,” “Young Thing” and “Find You Inside.” And with this three early singles, Salusbury quickly established a reputation for crafting melancholic, slow-burning synth pop that draws from a diverse range of influences, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Future Islands and Lower Dens among others, paired with his aching baritone crooning.

Find You Inside, Salusbury’s Joseph of Mercury debut is slated for a September 1, 2017 release, and Salusbury celebrated the release announcement with a live, spectral rendition of EP single “Without Words” featuring the up-and-coming Canadian pop artist accompanying himself with guitar, and what makes this rendition so compelling to me is that it pulls out the raw, aching emotion at the core of the song in a way that nods at both Roy Orbison and Nick Hakim.

“Angel,” the fourth and latest single off the Canadian pop crooner’s soon-to-be released EP finds Salusbury meshing 60s pop and classic R&B, anthemic 80s arena rock and contemporary electro pop in a way that reminiscent of both the aforementioned Nick Hakim and Roy Orbison, and of Daughn Gibson — and much like the sources that influenced the song, “Angel” is a sweet, almost old-timey love song written in a way that his contemporaries frankly just seem incapable of doing. As a result, the song is a swooning yet slow-burning  and contemporary torch song in which the song’s narrator confesses his love and devotion with an visceral ache.

 

 

Live Footage: Joseph of Mercury Performs a Stripped Down Rendition of Without Words at Toronto’s Union Sound Company Studios

Joseph W. Salusbury is an up-and-coming Toronto, ON-based singer/songwriter and producer, who has earned a number of songwriting and production credits including cowrites on Majid Jordan’s “Something About You” and Illangelo’s “Your Future’s Not Mine,” as well as producing the vocals on Nelly Furtado and Blood Orange’s “Hadron Collider;” however, earlier this year, Salusbury stepped out from behind the production desk with his solo recording project Joseph of Mercury and three singles “Without Words,” “Young Thing” and “Find You Inside.” And with this three early singles, Salusbury quickly established a reputation for crafting melancholic, slow-burning synth pop that draws from a diverse range of influences, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Future Islands and Lower Dens among others, paired with his aching baritone crooning. 

Salusbury recently announced the release of his highly-anticipated debut EP Find You Inside with a spectral rendition of “Without Words” featuring the up-and-coming Canadian pop artist accompanying himself with guitar, and what makes this rendition so compelling to me is that it pulls out the raw, aching emotion at the core of the song in a way that nods at both Roy Orbison and Nick Hakim. 

The footage was shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white at Toronto’s Union Sound Company Studios and captures the up-and-coming Canadian pop artist in a rare and intimate setting, capturing something simple yet profound — songwriter performing song with a heartbreaking earnestness. 

Perhaps best known as one-half of acclaimed Brooklyn-based noise rock duo Talk Normal, an act that released two critically applauded albums, Sugarland and Sunshine and opened for the likes of Sonic Youth, Wire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zola Jesus among others, Andyra Ambro (vocals, drums) saw the breakup of the band, as marking a major shift in her own creative process and an opportunity to start something completely new with her solo recording project Gold Dime, which has been performing live as a trio — with  Jessica Ackerley and Ian Douglas-Moore — since 2014. Interestingly Ambro’s Gold Dime has received some attention nationally as the live trio have opened for Lower Dens, U.S. Girls and Xiu Xiu. And after several years of touring, writing and recording material, Ambro’s long-awaited Gold Dime debut Nerves is slated for a June 2, 2017 release through Fire Talk Records.

Self-produced by Ambro, recorded by PC Worship’s Justin Frey, mixed by Jonny Schenke and mixed by Ambro’s former Talk Normal partner Sarah Register, the album is a result in marked shift in Ambro’s creative process with the material reportedly consisting of much more exploratory and experimental compositions, and as you’ll hear on “Shut Up,” Nerves’ second single, Ambro’s sound manages to effortlessly alternate between swirling, hypnotic drone and wild and abrasive dissonance while held together by a propulsive motorik groove. Ambro’s ironically (and somewhat detached) deadpan vocals float over the mix. And while clearly possessing an almost neurotic and anxious tension, “Shut Up” in particular focuses on the challenges of confronting the struggles to continue creating meaningful, interesting art when there seem to be larger forces against you — and those forces push, shove and taunt you in every possible way.

Seemingly drawing from New York’s early 80s No Wave, art rock, noise rock and post-punk the song — and in turn, Ambro’s latest work — manages to do in a way that’s uncompromisingly, defiantly and joyously weird.