Tag: Middle Kids

Live Footage: Deep Sea Diver on NPR Tiny Desk (at Home)

Led by its accomplished, Los Angeles-born, Seattle-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frontperson Jessica Dobson, the Seattle-based indie rock act Deep Sea Diver can trace its origins back to when Dobson was 19: Dobson, who has had stints  playing with a who’s who list of contemporary acts, including Beck, Conor Oberst, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Shins signed with Atlantic Records. And while with Atlantic Records, Dobson wrote and recorded two albums that she wasn’t completely satisfied with — and Atlantic ultimately shelved the material and dropped her from the label.

After leaving Atlantic, Dobson wrote and recorded her official solo debut EP New Caves under the name Deep Sea Diver. The project expanded to a full-fledged band with the addition of John Raines (bass) Dobson’s spouse Peter Mansen (drums), Garrett Gue (bass), and Elliot Jackson (guitar, synth), who helped to flesh out the project’s sound. The band went on to release two albums and an EP — 2012’s self-released debut History Speaks, 2014’s Always Waiting EP and 2016’s acclaimed Secrets.

Last October saw the release of the band’s critically applauded third album Impossible Weight through High Beam Records/ATO Records, and the album followed after a busy year of touring with Wilco and Joseph. Sonically and thematically, the album stemmed from a period of sometimes brutal self-examination — a process that began for Dobson, not long after Deep Sea Diver finished touring to support Secrets. “We went into the studio pretty quickly after the tour ended, and I sort of hit a wall where I was feeling very detached from making music, and unable to find joy in it,” Dobson recalls in press notes. “I realized I had to try to rediscover my voice as a songwriter, and figure out the vocabulary for what I needed to say on this album.”

Stepping back from music and the studio, Dobson focused on dealing with the depression she had been struggling with, and soon started volunteering for Aurora Commons, a drop-in center for unhoused people, most whom are drug-dependent and frequently engage in street-survival-based sex work. “I spent a lot of time with the women who frequent the Commons, and it taught me a new depth of empathy,” she says. “They’re people who don’t have the luxury of going back to a home at the end of the day and hiding behind those four walls, so they’re sort of forced to be vulnerable with what their needs are. Talking with them and listening to them really freed me up to start writing about things I’d never written about before in my songs.”

Co-produced by Dobson and Andy D. Park and recorded at Seattle’s Studio X and The Hall of Justice, Impossible Weight finds Dobson and company digging far deeper emotionally than ever before — and pairing it with a bigger, more grandiose sound. While revealing Dobson’s dexterous and powerful guitar work, the album’s lush textures and mercurial arrangements allow room for Dobson to fully demonstrate her vocal range in a way that she hadn’t before. “’I’d never produced a record before and I started out with low expectations for myself, but at some point I realized, ‘I can do this,’” Dobson recalls. “I decided to completely trust my voice and make really bold decisions in all my production calls—just push everything to the absolute outer edges.”

Interestingly, for Dobson redefining the limits of her artistry goes hand-in-hand with deeper identity issues that came up while Dobson and her bandmates were working on the album. “I was adopted and just recently met my birth mother, and found out that I’m half-Mexican and half-Jewish,” Deep Sea Diver’s frontperson explains. “Discovering my heritage and learning things about myself that I never knew before really fed into that question of ‘Where do I belong?’” Simultaneously, Dobson rediscovered the sense of possibility, adventure and joy that she first felt when she started out as a 19 year-old.  “I think being signed at such a young age messed me up in terms of the expectations I put on myself,” she says. “Somewhere along the way I lost confidence in my own vision, but after making this record I feel a much larger freedom to go in whatever direction I want with my music.”

With Impossible Weight, Dobson hopes that others might reclaim a similar sense of freedom in their emotional lives. “Especially right now when the world is in disarray and there’s so much fear, I want this record to give people room to feel whatever they need to feel,” she says. “I hope it helps them recognize that it’s okay to fall apart, and that they’re meant to let others in instead of trying to work through everything on their own. Because the point is that the impossible weight isn’t yours to carry alone—that’s why it’s impossible.”

Now, if you were following this site last year — bless you for that, seriously — you may recall that I wrote about a couple of the album’s singles:

“Lights Out,”  a track that contained multitudes, as it was deviant and anthemic yet delicate. Centered around Dobson’s expressive guitar work, a thunderous rhythm section an enormous raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook and Dobson’s equally expressive vocals, the song featured a bold and fearlessly vulnerable, who seems to say to the listener “It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay and that you may need some help to get you out of life’s dark places.”
Album title track “Impossible Weight,” a track that’s one-part New Wave and one-part arena rock with enormous hooks, twinkling synths, Dobson’s expressive and explosive guitar work rooted in heart-fully-on-sleeve songwriting. And while revealing Dobson’s unerring knack for crafting an anthemic hook, the song captures a narrator on the emotional brink with an novelistic attention to psychological detail. A guest spot from Sharon Van Etten, managed to add an additional emotional punch.

Deep Sea Diver recently filmed a NPR Tiny Desk (at Home) Concert in a space that the band built to recreate the iconic Red Room in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.  “There were countless times this past year that I wanted to be transported out of my house and into a different world,” says frontwoman Jessica Dobson. “One of my favorite and most inspiring worlds is that of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which was filmed very close to where I live in Washington.The band is joined by Joseph’s Natalie Schepman and Megan Closner, who contribute backing vocals for three songs of the live set — and there’s a guest appearance from Dobson’s adorable beagle Henry, “the one being that was happy we weren’t touring,” Dobson says.

The live set features joyous and heartfelt versions of the aforementioned “Lights Out” and “Impossible Weight,” as well as “Wishing” and the standalone single “Stop Pretending,” which was named one of NPR Music’s 100 Best Songs of 2020 — and evokes the despair and unease we’ve all felt over the past year or so.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a couple of posts on the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-based indie rock quartet Future Haunts, and as you may recall, with the release of their debut EP Rubicon and its follow up single “Make Time,” the Brisbane-based quartet exploded into their homeland’s national scene, landing opening  slots for Middle Kids and Horror My Friend, Hockey Dad, as well as a set at Hidden Lanes Festival.

After making a handful of live appearances last year, the members of Future Haunts spent the bulk of the year writing and self-recording new material at Plutonium Studios that included the anthemic 120 Minutes-like “Weather Vane.” Interestingly, “Fall In Line.” the Aussie indie rock act’s latest single continues a run of hook-driven and anthemic singles — and in this case, while the latest track sonically may remind some listeners of Arctic Monkeys and The Drums among a long list of others, the song may be the most politically charged songs the up-and-coming band has written to date, as the song is directly influenced by recent events in their homeland.

Over the past couple of years in both Sydney and Brisbane, strict lockout laws — laws that force bars, pubs, clubs and music venues to refuse new customers from entry at 1:30AM with a last call at 3:00AM were passed with an objective to reduce and curtail alcohol-fueled violence. While some of the recent data complied by officials in both of those cities have shown that alcohol-fueled violence has decreased, many people, who are involved in nightlife have raised concerns about the impact on the economy and their businesses. “‘Fall In Line’ was written around the time lockout laws were being introduced in Sydney and Brisbane,” the band’s Ben Speight explains in press notes. “The live music community in Brisbane has worked extremely hard to develop one of the best places to go and engage with artists, and there really was a lot of uncertainty what consequences this would have on live music and the broader nightlife scene.

“The song’s a bit of a nod to all those who work hard to create and nurture a positive culture and to keep pushing on no matter what. The message behind the song is still just as relevant today, in the context of other knee-jerk decisions made to placate a few very loud voices in very high places,” Speight says.

 

 

 

New Video: Brisbane Australia’s Future Haunts Release a Nostalgic DIY Visual for “Weather Vane”

With the release of their debut EP Rubicon and “Make Time,” the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-based indie rock quartet Future Haunts quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene, landing opening slots for Middle Kids and Horror My Friend, a well as a set at Hidden Lanes Festival. Interestingly, besides making a handful of live appearances last year, the members of the Brisbane-based act spent most of last year writing and self-recording new material — including their latest single “Weather Vane.”

Recorded at Plutonium Studios and mixed by Miro Mackie, the up-and-coming Aussie quartet’s latest single finds the band gently pushing the boundaries of their sound and songwriting in a new direction. Now, while the song will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting atmospheric 4AD Records and 120 Minutes-like jangling guitar pop, the track is centered by a rousingly anthemic hook that suggests that the relatively young band has grown more self-assured and ambitious in their songwriting and overall approach.  Lyrically, the song as the band’s Ben Speight explains in press notes, “discusses breaking through the endless amount of choices life throws your way and finding a sense of direction. It’s about learning to accept the things you can’t change, becoming comfortable with who you are and placing your energy on the things that you can.”

Shot by the members of the up-and-coming Aussie indie rock band on film and camcorder, the video follows the the band as they self-record the single at Plutonium Studios, play pool and watch Australian Rules Football at a local pub, shoot hoops, goof off and play a gig at a local club. While focusing on the immediate present, the video manages a subtly nostalgic tone — imbued with the recognition that youthful good times don’t last. 

 

With the release of their debut EP Rubicon and “Make Time,” the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-based indie rock quartet Future Haunts quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene, landing opening slots for Middle Kids and Horror My Friend, a well as a set at Hidden Lanes Festival. Interestingly, besides making a handful of live appearances last year, the members of the Brisbane-based act spent most of last year writing and self-recording new material — including their latest single “Weather Vane.”

Recorded at Plutonium Studios and mixed by Miro Mackie, the up-and-coming Aussie quartet’s latest single finds the band gently pushing the boundaries of their sound and songwriting in a new direction. Now, while the song will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting atmospheric 4AD Records and 120 Minutes-like jangling guitar pop, the track is centered by a rousingly anthemic hook that suggests that the relatively young band has grown more self-assured and ambitious in their songwriting and overall approach.  Lyrically, the song as the band’s Ben Speight explains in press notes, “discusses breaking through the endless amount of choices life throws your way and finding a sense of direction. It’s about learning to accept the things you can’t change, becoming comfortable with who you are and placing your energy on the things that you can.”

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this year, you’ve come across a couple of posts featuring the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/dream pop duo Alyeska, and as you may recall the duo, which is comprised of Montana-born, Los Angeles-based frontwoman Alaska Reid and Ben Spear derive their name from an archaic spelling of the state of Alaska — and of course, Reid’s first name.

With the release of “Tilt A Whirl,” the first single off their John Agnello-produced debut EP, Crush, the duo began to receive attention across the blogosphere — as well as this site — for a sound that draws equally from 80s post-punk and New Wave, as it did from contemporary indie rock. The EP’s second single “Motel State of Mind,” as a moody and dramatic song that while meant to be a “rip off “rip off The Replacements” as Reid explained in an interview with Billboardmanaged to remind me quite a bit of Concrete Blonde‘s “Joey,” complete with a swooning heartache at its core. “Sister Buckskin,” the EP’s third single continued in the 80s post-punk/New Wave/college radio vein, as it managed to remind me of The Pretenders; but underneath the shimmering guitar work and anthemic hooks was a bitter sense of nostalgia over what could have have been — and just didn’t happen.

Since the release of Crush, the duo have gone on to open for the likes of Middle Kids, Frankie Cosmos and Blitzen Trapper but interestingly, the band recently released the EP’s latest single “Stones,” the last bit of music recorded at The Magic Shop, where David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Norah Jones, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters once recorded albums. And while further cementing their reputation for crafting hook-laden, anthemic 80s-inspired rock, the “Stones” manages to make a subtle nod to Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as the song features some of the most impressive guitar work on the EP while bristling with a feral sensuality.