presented by Impose, Golden Ratio, and LPR
This is a general admission, standing event. Happy hour from 7-8pm including $3 beer and $5 well drinks.
It didn’t take long for Montreal’s Suuns to resurface with a second full length, Images Du Futur, and, as one would anticipate, this latest exploration takes on even greater visceral depths. At the outset it appears we’re still ensconced in the warehouse, whether it’s the grinding opening explosives of “Powers of Ten” or the crude, ominous rise-and-fall riffs in “2020.” Broken up by Ben Shemie’s melodious and angst-ridden murmurs, the industrial low-end throb presides early on, lulling us into thinking the band has picked up right where they left off with their debut LP, Zeroes QC. “Minor Work” builds steadily around a nostalgic, fuzz-infused beat and bares a soothing, contagious harmony. “Mirror Mirror” departs from the frenzied earlier pace, decelerating to a lethargic drawl; the droning, almost tedious undertones are paid off with flurries of synthesized flute that announce the dawn of the dreamscape ahead. We aren’t to be disappointed.
At this juncture it’s clear that Suuns are a different beast now. They’re tighter, slicker, and even more calculating in their approach. It’s no surprise after more than a year of touring North America and three trips overseas. “Images Du Futur started as some jams written (during that time), some of which appeared live towards the end of our Zeroes QC tours,” says Shemie. In 2012 they returned to the jam space. Set against the backdrop of the student manifestations, they built on their new songs and started writing and rehearsing a bank of new ones in January. “The climate was one of excitement, hope and frustration, and we found ourselves lucky to be in Montreal at the time, and not on the road,” adds Shemie. “We were trying to look at our music from further and further away, seeing more details in the picture as we expanded the landscape.” The opening lyrics sum up that mood: “Got it together, I read in the paper, all of these strangers, stranger and stranger… No, no, no, no, how you try and remember, how all of these pieces, all fit together.”
Suuns took to the studio in May, and again in September, with Breakglass producer Jace Lasek. The end result is a profound sense of poise, not only from their sound, but in their creative vision. They’ve been praised in the past for their compelling restraint, their ability to morph the sonic mood within a song, and this type of shape-shifting is taken to new dimensions in the slick, opiate-laden swells of “Edie’s Dream.” It has a fetching swagger, a dream-state motion that unifies the album and offers a soothing interlude to the harder edges sculpted earlier on.
Whether Images Du Futur is fueled by the long hours on the road or the pulse of Montreal’s social uprisings, it still boasts the typical Suuns-wrought iron, expanding even further on the deep-house-Detroit textures, electronic plunges and layered guitar squalls. The upbeat drums and chants of “Sunspot” are initially reminiscent of earlier call-to-arms anthems, but then venture into spare repetition and temporary collisions of pedals and fuzz. The album’s title track (a name inspired by the technological expositions in Montreal between 1986 and ’96) is a shoegaze foray of abstract effects that betrays the band’s indelible patience and winds the mood down to a drowsy standstill. It’s the perfect lead-in for the subsequent plodding beats that gradually accelerate into a rhythm; the final ditty culminates in another wistful guitar riff, backed by a haunting, derisive laugh track, with Shemie crooning, “Your music won’t save you.” Or will it?
The notion that there is nothing new under the sun can be both a blessing and a curse to musicians. On the one hand, it absolves artists from any nagging sense that they have to reinvent the wheel with every new project. On the other, it makes innovation seem like a fool’s errand. Seattle songwriter Chris Cheveyo embraces this blessing, but with his compatriots in Rose Windows, he also defies the curse. The band follows standard Western traditions in their instrumentation, using the basic tools employed in past decades of American and British rock music. Elements of The Band’s folk-infused rock, The Doors organ-driven psychedelia, and Black Sabbath’s blues-based dirges can be heard in Rose Window’s debut album The Sun Dogs. But the septet’s curiosity goes much further than a few well-chosen classic rock records. The band devoured Persian, Indian, and Eastern European music, studying the beautiful and strange paths taken by visionaries and renegades in other corners of the globe, and incorporated the revelations learned in the process into their sound. In doing so, The Sun Dogs challenges the assumption that all creative territories have been mapped out and charted. While Rose Windows aren’t interested in making music of the future, one reviewer was wise enough to note “a sound like this would not be possible in any other time.”
The genesis of Rose Windows started Fall 2010 in a house in Seattle’s Central District, where Cheveyo found himself tiring of the limited palette of his prior heavy post-rock project. Though interested in new sonic possibilities, he was turned off by experimental music’s lazy reliance on “knob-turning.” His explorations became less about possibilities associated with new technology and more about studying various avenues of the past. The project began with a few rough demos done alone at home and slowly began to take shape as the band amassed members. Bandmates were mainly musician friends who wandered through the house. Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s enchanting and exotic voice was the first component added to the fray. Roommate David Davila was asked to play piano and organ. Former bandmates Nils Petersen and Pat Schowe were enlisted for electric guitar and drums. Frequent houseguests Richie Rekow and Veronica Dye were brought on board for bass and flute. Rose Windows began playing out, fluidly sharing the stage with underground art-metal bands one night and popular indie Americana acts the next.
Label-less at the time, Rose Windows began making plans for recording The Sun Dogs in November of 2011. The band sought out local producer Randall Dunn based on his past success in harnessing the electric power of SunnO))) and Boris, the bleak twang of Earth, and the shamanistic acid-trips of Master Musicians of Bukkake. Dunn’s penchant for musical anthropology proved the perfect match for the band, with their mutual curiosity and artistic ambition broadening the scope of the album. Other local musicians were brought on board to add harp, pedal steel, viola, and cello. Dynamics were expanded. Boundaries were pushed.
Musically, The Sun Dogs is an album based on the idea of sifting through the past, extracting bits and pieces, and re-imagining these into new forms. It’s about observing and building upon musical traditions. Thematically, Cheveyo describes The Sun Dogs as being about “the everyday blues that capitalism and its hit man, religion, bring on all of us.” More specifically, he sees The Sun Dogs as an acknowledgment of the circular nature of the rat race, learning to accept the evil in the world, taking joy wherever we can, and ultimately disavowing traditions of exploitation and violence. That search for finding light in the dark is perfectly captured in the album opener “The Sun Dogs I: Spirit Modules,” as the ominous verses uncoil into beautifully lush string arrangements and vocal harmonies. “Native Dreams” displays the band’s affinity for both exotic melodies and bold distorted guitar riffs, all while Qazi describes the encroachment of one culture upon another by singing of “spirit warriors” surrounding a sleeping camp. “Walkin’ With a Woman” conjures the old blues tale of encountering the devil at the crossroads while culling motifs from classic psych and prog records. Songs like “Heavenly Days” and “Season of Serpents” offer a counterpoint to the foreboding moments on The Sun Dogs, with folk-steeped guitars, gentle pedal steel, and graceful choruses painting a picture of those moments of joy and grace in the midst of the world’s evil. These moments of respite make the foreign melodies, menacing mysticism, and blown-out riffs on songs like “This Shroud” all the more disquieting. But ultimately “The Sun Dogs II: Coda” ends the album with a ray of light, with the alternating major and minor chords on acoustic guitar, lilting piano lines, “Kashmir”-esque strings, and full-band vocal harmonies burning off the gloom.
Rose Windows have already toured the West Coast several times, and with the release of The Sun Dogs, the band plans much more. In the meantime, they continue their search—delving into archives of long-lost albums, learning more about their craft from renowned local musicians, and charting their own path in an ancient art.
DINOWALRUS is psychedelic synth-rock band from Brooklyn, NY comprised of former Titus Andronicus guitarist Pete Feigenbaum, synth and bass wizard Liam Andrew, and veteran drummer Max Tucker.
Pete started the band in 2008 and they quickly grabbed attention with a long run of local and regional shows with the likes of Javelin, Surfer Blood, Health, Real Estate, Screaming Females, A Place to Bury Strangers, Crystal Stilts, Titus Andronicus and These are Powers. They started 2009 strong with a 7″ release that was distributed by Impose and RVNG, another 7″ release on the Australian label EXO, plus a tour to SXSW with the Australian post-punk band Bachelor of Arts.
In January 2010, DINOWALRUS put out their shape shifting, eclectic and erudite debut, %, on Kanine Records (Surfer Blood, Chairlift, Grizzly Bear). The album was a unique, structurally unorthodox, unpredictable mélange of krautrock, synthpop, shoegaze, acid-rock, noise, and thrash-punk that was well received in underground circles, but was generally ignored by broader indie-rock audiences. In the year that followed, The band toured the east coast and California with the likes of Titus Andronicus, Fang Island, Aa, Signals (ex-mae shi), and Tempo no Tempo.
Later in 2010, Pete revamped the lineup and songwriting approach, and began working with Liam Andrew (synthesizers, bass). The two has been friends since college, where they both took a course entitled “the experimental traditional in pop music”, where they received course credit for listening to favorites such as PiL, Brian Eno, Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk. With drummer Anton Hochheim from their Kanine shoegazer label-mates the Depreciation Guild onboard for recording and a run of shows, DINOWALRUS reinvented themselves with a more pop-oriented songwriting approach that drew heavily on the 1980s beats of Madchester plus other groovin’ minimal synth, new wave, dark wave, and post punk angles, while retaining their psychedelic and krautock backbone. When recording wrapped up, they started working fulltime with drummer Max Tucker, formerly of Patrick Cleandenim and Francis and the Lights to take their live show to the next level.
In March 2012, they released their sophomore album BEST BEHAVIOR on Old Flame (US) and Heist or Hit (UK).