Monday, June 2, 2014

Yeah, Tonight: An Interview With Jeremy Underwood of Gold-Bears

In the spring of 2011 Atlanta's noise pop titans, Gold-Bears seem to come from nowhere. There superb debut, Are You Falling In Love? was concise and infectious collection of intelligent songwriting buried under a sea of fuzz. ConsultThe AGP Review. Gold-Bears will make there recorded return tomorrow when the esteemed Slumberland Records issues Dalliance the bands bracing and superbly crafted second LP. The band play a stacked bill tonight at the Middlesex Lounge with Soccer Mom, Bent Shapes, and Rye Pines, presented by Eye Design. We recently had the chance to speak to   Gold-Bears fronter, Jeremy Underwood about recording his bands new record, hanging out with Pam Berry, and the influence of the recently disbanded, Boyracer

The Ash Gray Proclamation: On Tuesday you will release your second LP, can you discuss the progression of Gold-Bears, from forming in 2010, to the bands debut Are You Falling In Love? to the new material your recorded for Dalliance?

Jeremy Underwood
: I stopped making music for a few years and found a few friends in Atlanta to help me with some songs I'd stockpiled. We practiced a few times and recorded 2 songs for a 7" that was released by magic marker records. Shortly after that we released a 7" with Cloudberry Records. Mike Slumberland (Micheal Schulman, founder of Slumberland Records) heard those records and I approached him about doing our lp. He agreed. Since then, all of the original members of gold-bears moved from Atlanta, so I asked my friends in Small Reactions to help. We took about a year and a half to record Dalliance and are now on tour in support of the record.
The AGP: The new record features a couple notable guest appearances, can you tell us how the LP's collaborations came about?

Jeremy: In 2012 we played the indie tracks festival in the UK and Pam Berry of Black Tambourine came up to our merch stall so her girls could take a few of our free badges. We started chatting and we played a show the next night in London with her band The Pines. On our way home, I decided to ask her if she'd sing on a song. So she did. I've been a fan of Standard Fare for a while. We played with them in Atlanta and hit it off. I love Emma's (Kupa) voice. When I was writing Yeah, Tonight I thought her voice would be perfect for it so I sent her the song and she wanted to sing on it!I've been friends with Madeline Adams for a while. She is an amazing songwriter and has a beautiful voice. She came by the studio to sing and, surprisingly, our voices blended well together on Hey, Sophie and I hope they're right.

The AGP: Dalliance is reportedly about regret, were you influenced to write a more personal record this time around?

Jeremy: The first record was very personal, but the details were buried or veiled. On this record, I didn't have to cover up any of the lyrics since I divorced the person I was writing about on the first record. The record is about the regret associated with a failed marriage and all the emotions that come with that and the regret of what the divorce may or may not do to my daughter.

The AGP: Your love of The Wedding Present and and the recently defunct, Boyracer is well documented, how have those bands influenced you as a songwriter?

Jeremy: I remember hearing the "B is for Boyracer" Sarah single when I was 18. I loved how they were able to blend noise and pretty pop. Stewart Anderson eventually wound up releasing an EP of my old band and my old band toured with Boyracer in the early 2000's. Stew actually plays drums on one song on the first Gold-Bears 7". Stew has not only been a musical influence for me but has also a big supporter of my music.

Gold-Bears play the Middlesex Lounge tonight as part of a jaw dropping line-up that also features Soccer Mom, Rye Pines, and Bent Shapes for a measly $5.00. Because you made it through Monday and lets face it you deserve this. Consult the FB events page for further details.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Land Speed Record : A Conversation With Grant Hart

At this point Grant Hart should need no introduction, the former drummer/ vocalist and founding member of Minneapolis punk legends Husker Du, who later went on to form the criminally  under appreciated Nova Mob as well as releasing four sterling solo releases, has solidified his place as one of the American undergrounds most important artists, but you wouldn't know it when listening to his latest LP, the sprawling and flat out excellent, The Argument, Hart continues to push his song craft into new and engaging directions. In advance of his performance at The Davis Square Theatre tomorrow night, we caught up with Grant to dig into his latest work, the lost art of the concept record, and the legacy of Husker Du.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Let's start with The Argument, it's well documented that the album was inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost. What was your vision going into recording the songs that would end up on the album?

Grant Hart: Going in I wanted to secularize the material, remove any particularly Christian content and tell a story where either gods were men or all men were gods.

AGP: How were you first introduced to Milton's Paradise Lost?

Grant: The story has resonated in western thought for centuries. After seeing a version that Burroughs wrote, I was motivated.

AGP: Are there any plans for a stage production of The Argument?

Grant: Not with the type of funding I have at my disposal.

AGP: Do you think we can draw any correlation between the album's theme of the fall of man with the current state of our country?

Grant: Any era can have those correlations, be it government or the social order or anything. We are always on the way to hell.

AGP: Was it a conscious decision to record these tracks primarily on your own?

Grant: As a multi - instrumentalist it is easier for me to transmit my ideas this way. Some parts beyond my ability were played by others, particularly Davin Odegaard on bass.

AGP: With having recorded three conceptual albums, Husker Du's Zen Arcade, Nova Mob's The Last Day's of Pompeii, and now with The Argument, what draws you to the concept record?

Grant: I like to tell stories. I think ordering single songs into song cycles is attractive.

AGP: You have been out supporting the record and on Thursday you will play The Davis Square Theatre, how has the new material translated to the Live setting on what can your fans expect from your upcoming performance?

Grant: The performance will cover a lot of ground, old, new, and hyper new.

AGP: Does it get tiresome answering questions about Husker Du, when you have spent so much time away from your former band releasing high caliber records with Nova Mob and as a solo artist?

Grant: I'm proud of my early efforts, for instance my first LP with Husker will never be matched by me for sheer physicality. We were ahead of the curve. The other concepts were fine also, but Husker Du contained two excellent artists whose work is still vital.

AGP: Do you feel reuniting like so many of your contemporaries have done would tarnish the legacy of Husker Du?

Grant: If something like that were ever to happen it would be done in a way to expand the original concept, not merely exploit the enduring popularity of what was done.

AGP: After spending time in the early punk scene with some of the genres seminal bands, do you retain a connection with those early days or the music?

Grant: I have always tried to maintain the same level of revolutionary spirit. True anarchy rather than the anarchy you can buy at the mall.

Grant Hart plays The Davis Square Theatre tomorrow May 22nd at 8 PM

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Transmissions: Fucked Up - Sun Glass

As we try to shake off some of the rust and dust here at The Ash Gray Proclamation and resume our normal activities which will include a facelift and regularly content updates, we are eager to point you to Sun Glass the new weed fueled video from Toronto's punk juggernaut, Fucked Up. The bands hotly anticipated new LP, Glass Boys will be released by Matador Records on June 3rd and band will be out on the road this spring and summer in support of their new long player. Check the Boston-less dates below.

Fucked Up - 2014 Tour Dates
05/18 Asbury Park, NJ Skate and Surf Festival
05/22 Cleveland, OH Now That's Class (Horrible Fest)
06/06 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
06/08 Toronto, Ontario Field Trip Festival
06/13 Lucerne, Switzerland B-Sides Festival
06/14 Brussels, Belgium VK
06/15 Manchester, England Gorilla
06/16 Newcastle, England The Cluny
06/17 Leeds, England Belgrave
06/18 London, England Koko
06/19 Paris, France Point Emphere
06/20 Scheessel, Germany Hurricane Festival
06/21 Neuhausen ob Eck, Germany Southside Festival
06/22 Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands Best Kept Secret Festival
07/02 Philadelphia, PA Morgan's Pier
07/03 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel
07/04 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
07/05 Raleigh, NC Kings Barcade
07/06 Atlanta, GA Mammal Gallery
07/07 Nashville, TN Exit/In
07/08 St. Louis, MO Luminary Arts
07/10 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge
07/11 Detroit, MI Loving Touch
07/20 Pemberton, British Columbia Pemberton Festival
08/10 Montreal, Quebec Heavy Montreal
08/15 Vancouver, British Columbia Fortune Sound Club
08/16 Seattle, WA Neumos
08/17 Portland, OR Music Fest NW
08/19 San Francisco, CA The Independent
08/20 Ventura, CA The Garage
08/22 Pomona, CA Glasshouse
08/23 San Diego, CA Casbah
09/06 New York, NY Irving Plaza

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The AGP"s Top Album's of 2013 - The Late Bastards Edition

Excuse our tardiness to the party! We turned in one of these year end list in nearly every year of our existence, so we felt propelled to give it a go with our list of our favorite sounds of 2013. To be honest this list has been intact since early January, but after a certain editor fractured his elbow it was temporarily shelved, but all wounds heel and far be it for us to miss an opportunity to share our opinions on the years finest releases. Below you will find the 10 releases  (in no particular order)that spent considerable time on our turntables, in our cars, and blowing our office speakers. It can not be understated the year in music belonged to the State Of Massachusetts, from North Hampton to Jamaica Plain and that is well represented below. We'll return shortly when we can all type with two hands, oh the luxury!

Guillermo Sexo - Dark Spring [Midriff Records]

Krill - Lucky Leaves [Deep Thoughts]

Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana[Carpark Records]

Slowdim - Slowdim [Self Released]

Connections - Body Language [Self Released]

Bent Shapes - Feels Weird [Father Daughter Records]

Robert Pollard - Honey Locust Honkey Tonk [Rockathon|The Factory Of Raw Essentials]

Worms - Worms [Last Watt Records]

Los Campesinos! - No Blues [Wichita|Turnstile]

Ovlov - am [Exploding In Sound Records]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Echo Out My Call: A Conversation With Guillermo Sexo's Reuben Bettsak

In advance of Saturday's Ash Gray Proclamation Presented For All Good Kids,  Toys For Tots Benefit show we recently had the chance to sit down for chat with Reuben Bettsak of Boston's psych pop titans, Guillermo Sexo. We discussed the recording of his bands excellent fifth LP Dark Spring, which we reviewed here, the evolution of Guillermo Sexo, and he even shared an off the cuff list of some his favorite recorded moments of 2013.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How has the band evolved from the early material on Oh Wow and Magic Lanterns through Secret Wild and the new LP, Dark Spring?

Reuben Bettsak: There has been a few line-up changes in our history and that certainly contributes to our evolution.

Our first full length, Oh Wow, feels like it was a different band in a lot of ways. Obviously we had another female vocalist at the time, but there was also more emphasis on the bass/drum rhythms. This had a lot to do with Nick Gaynier's (Appomattox) drumming. Noell Dorsey has been in the band since our second album, Magic Lanterns. Working with Noell all these years has been such a great experience. I feel like I've been able to branch out as a songwriter. She comes from an experimental background, and combined with my love for strong catchy melodies, it creates fascinating results. We keep coming up with music that's interesting to me. I think Magic Lanterns is a bit of a mess. Some great songs on it, and so many ideas. Some worked and some didn't, but It was definitely the album that started a lot of the Guillermo Sexo guitar layering that's become a big part of our sound.

I won't go through every album, but when we recorded the first half of Vivid Nights we didn't have a Bass player. That's why that album has so many short poppy power songs. I really like that album. Jamie joined the band and added rad bass lines, but that album was written differently. Mark was the drummer at the time (drummer of Fat History Month) gave me a lot of confidence by taking time to listen to 30 demo songs I had compiled. He picked his favorites, and those are most of the songs on Vivid Nights. Even though I've always been the principle songwriter, Magic Lantern came forth mainly through jamming rather than demos. Vivid Night pushed me to bring some fully fleshed out songs to the table. So, ultimately those early albums really paved the way for the Guillermo Sexo of today. Secret Wild and Dark Spring are both albums that have songs created either through jams, or fully fleshed demos that I brought in. They both include collaborations between Noell and I, and they both have the layering, experimenting, etc. I do think that we keep growing as a band, and as songwriters.

Dark Spring also features what I think is the best line-up we've ever had with Elliott Anderson on Bass, Ryan Connelly on drums. Elliott and Ryan just bring in so much goodness to the bands sound. All these years have taught us how to better make albums, and we took more time with Dark Spring and it's my favorite Guillermo record so far. We just added a guitar player to the band. His name is Richard, and he's allowing us to play the songs closer to what they sound like on the album.

The AGP: How did the pairing with Boston/NYC based indie, Midriff Records come about?

Reuben: I've kept up with Midriff over the years. I've always dug and respected the label because they have rowdy noisy records by some outstanding band/songwriters. Records by Eldridge Rodriguez, The Beatings, Age Rings, ZL to name a few. Anyways, when we recorded the Bring Down Your Arms EP, I gave copy of the songs to Cameron Keiber at a show, I think it took him a couple months to actually listen to it, but he sent me a message saying he and Clayton (Keiber) listened to it on the way to NYC, and that they were really into it.The rest is history, it's been great working with them.

The AGP: We were immediately drawn to the rich and varied textures that run throughout Dark Spring, was that something the band was aiming for while writing and recording the album?

Reuben: Dark Spring was such a fun record to write. Ryan joined the band like 2 years ago and we immediately started working or writing the songs for this album. The way this lineup works together really enables us to try so many things. It's a good combo of songs like Bring Down Your Arms and Echo Out My Call that are ultra catchy and songs like Meow Metal, Coyote, and Dark Spring that are expansive and come through jamming. A lot of the textures come from guitar or keyboard layers. I just love building layers and creating happy accidents. My overdubs are never planned, always improvised. I do think we've embraced repetition more, and that makes the nuances of the layers more effective in a lot of ways. I'm a sucker for bands like Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, and Mercury Rev who really build powerful symphonic vibes via layering.

The AGP: With other projects which include Future Carnivores and Emerald Comets how do you decide what material get slated for Guillermo Sexo or is that predetermined early in the process?

Reuben: I write a lot of songs. Mr. Robert Pollard's approach suits me just fine. What I mean is that I just write without thinking where the song will end up. The reason I'm going to put solo stuff out under Emerald Comets is that there are lots of songs that never make their way to Guillermo Sexo or just don't work. The first Emerald Comets EP is all finished up, I'm going to release it early next year. Future Carnivores is a total different beast, Bo Barringer and I rarely bring any songs or ideas in advance. It's always an organic on the fly process, for example, I might record a beat on the drum machine, then he will add a bass line, then I'll add guitar and so on. Then he does the vocals, Noell will add stuff and Pepe will add live drums here and there. That's the way the first two albums were done. We are starting to do a bit more of jamming nowadays as a band.

The AGP: Can you tell me a little bit about the recorded process for Dark Spring that you once again embarked on with Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr./Speedy Ortiz)?

Reuben: I love working with Justin, we've worked with him for so many years, but it doesn't get stale. Instead it just gets better. He gets so many rad sounds, and understands what I'm trying to achieve. I literally let him mix the stuff without looking over his shoulder, and it's like he's read my mind. Maybe a few tweaks here and there, but at this point it's like he's a band member. I'm really proud of what we achieved with Dark Spring sonically, and I think Justin deserves a lot of credit cause he rules. Also, I constantly barrage Justin by sending him demos. It works out because he suggested we record Balboa after I sent him an early demo I did.

The AGP: What do you have planned for the new year with Guillermo Sexo as well as your other projects?

Reuben: Guillermo Sexo will continue to play shows to support Dark Spring next year. We are also planning a spring tour. I want to do a couple more videos for the record as well. We are starting to write new material which is exciting. Future carnivores will play shows and continue plugging away at album #3, and an EP from Emerald Comets,I'm planning more recording for Emerald
Comets material as well.

The AGP: We are thrilled to have Guillermo Sexo playing our Toys For Tots Benefit,For All Good Kids on Saturday. For those who have yet to see the band Live or at lease in recent months, what can they expect on Saturday night in Plymouth?

Reuben: We are very excited! It's a good cause and we love Krill, Hallelujah The Hills , and The Hush Now, so it's going to rule. We are playing a brand new song called Long Lines at the show. First time playing a brand new song live since releasing Dark Spring.

The AGP: I understand you have a healthy appetite for new music, what are some of your recorded musical highlights of 2013?

Reuben: I do like to keep up with new music, Some of my favorite albums of 2013 are the new albums by:

My Bloody Valentine
Thee Oh Sees
Black Hearted Brother
Girls Names
Parquet Courts
No Joy
Jacco Gardner
Primal Scream
Youth Lagoon
Fuck Buttons
Kurt Vile

Add New Highway Hymnal, Ghost Box Orchestra, Fat Creeps, Speedy Ortiz, Young Adults, and Krill. I could keep going with all the great music coming out of this area right now. I can also say Dark Spring and Future Carnivores' Come Inside are two favorites of the year for me.

Guillermo Sexo joins Hallelujah The Hills, Krill, and Noel Kelly of The Hush Now this Saturday in Historic Plymouth for For All Good Kids, A Toys For Tots Benefit. Full event details here. The toys are for the kids, the rock is for you.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Music Hour on 95.9 FM WATD vol.1

Last Friday, The Ash Gray Proclamation and 95.9 FM WATD joined forces for the debut of the New Music Hour that will be airing during The Alternative with Chris Atwood, on the last Friday of every month. I brought in some new tracks that have been dominating my listening as of late, which included amoung other things, an unearthed track from Hallelujah The Hills that as far as I can tell, few had heard until now as well as new tracks from Calories and Joanna Gruesome. The playlist is below with the linkage.. We chatted a bit about the impending Ash Gray Proclamation Presented: For All Good Kids, Toys For Tots Benefit show which will take place next Saturday Dec 7th at The New World Tavern in Plymouth.

Krill - Theme From Krill from Lucky Leaves
Streaming and available for purchase at the Krill Bandcamp site.

Black Hearted Brother - This Is How It Feels from Stars Are Our Home
Available at Slumberland Records.

28 Degrees Taurus - From Part To Part
Available as a free download via Bandcamp.

Guillermo Sexo - Carried A Golden Heart from Dark Spring
Streaming at Bandcamp and available for purchase over at Midriff Records.

Beach Fossils - Careless from Clash The Truth
Stream at Soundcloud and order the LP at Captured Tracks.

The Hush Now - Rooftops from Memos
Available as a free download at The Hush Now's Bandcamp page.

Calories - Mausoleum from then newly released III
Avaiable as a pay what you want offer at the Calories Bandcamp page.

Slowdim - Take Your Only Heart That Is Soley Free (Demo)
Available for free at Soundcloud .

Joanna Gruesome - Tugboat (Galaxie 500 cover) from the Sugarcrush single.
Available at Slumberland Records.

Hallelujah The Hills - Highschoolvania (Unreleased)
Visit HTH's Bandcamp page for streaming and purchases.

In the event that you missed this weeks debut broadcast you can stream it via CPS Productions.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Sounds Now: Calories Unveil New LP, III

Last week we were pleasantly surprised to find Birmingham, England's noise pop titans, Calories issuing their appropriately titled third full length, III. The new set seemingly pick up where 2010's superb Basic Nature left us with ragged fuzz covered pop that exhibits Calories strength for discharging catchy as hell melodies, submerged under mountains of feedback. The nine track III, which contains among other things, the ten plus minute closer Tropics, which we currently can't get enough of,  is currently available as a pay what you want deal over at Calories Bandcamp. Enjoy the full album stream below, then make the financial commitment to the album that is sure to screw up our impending 2013 year end list.