Sub Pop/Hardly Art present Lamefest II: Eclectic Boogaloo, Dum Dum Girls

CMJ Music Marathon 2011

Sub Pop/Hardly Art present Lamefest II: Eclectic Boogaloo

Dum Dum Girls

J. Mascis, Still Corners, Memoryhouse, Jacuzzi Boys, Gem Club, Xray Eyeballs

Thu, October 20, 2011

Doors: 6:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$15

Sold Out

This event is 21 and over

Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls
Write about what you know. That’s what they say. But that’s a lot easier said than done when what you know is very, very difficult to bear. That was the challenge Dum Dum Girls’ leader Dee Dee faced when writing the songs for the band’s moving second album Only in Dreams. “The first record was basically the first songs I’d ever written,” says Dee Dee, “and I was thinking nostalgically about being a teenager. This record, it was pretty much impossible not to write about very recent, very real things.”

Very real things indeed: Dee Dee wrote “Hold Your Hand” immediately after her mother (the pretty lady on the cover of both the Dum Dum Girls’ self-titled 2009 debut EP and their 2010 debut album I Will Be) was diagnosed with what turned out to be a fatal illness, and it’s one of several songs on Only in Dreams that unsparingly trace her mom’s passing. Other songs spell out the emotional toll of separation from one’s lover, something Dee Dee had to deal with while she and her husband (Brandon Welchez of the acclaimed noise-pop band Crocodiles) pursued their own tour schedules.

“Just about all the songs reflect the fact that I’d been on the road for about a year, pretty much separate from everything real in my life except the band,” says Dee Dee. “A lot of it is about distance and detachment.”

On several levels, Only in Dreams is a great leap forward for a gifted songwriter and an equally gifted band—it’s heavy, deeply personal stuff and surely unprecedented for this style of music, and that’s what gives Only in Dreams both its uniqueness and its gut-punch emotional impact.

Only in Dreams retains Dum Dum Girls’ signature blend of the girl-gang eyeliner punk of the Shangri-Las, the trashy propulsion of the Cramps, and the moody atmospherics of Mazzy Star, but for the first time, all four Dum Dum Girls play and sing on the album. Now the harmonies have more depth, Jules plays her own distinctive guitar leads, and the Bambi (bass)/Sandy (drums) rhythm section powers the music like a vintage V-8 engine. Best of all, tons of time on the road—including two massively successful headlining tours—have molded Dum Dum Girls into a very formidable rock & roll band, giving the music an undeniable force.

And now that power and glory is showcased by a full-on studio production—while I Will Be was recorded at home and modestly spiffed up in a studio by legendary pop maestro Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go’s), Only in Dreams was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios, “almost a museum in terms of the old amps and guitars he’s amassed,” says Dee Dee admiringly. Gottehrer again produced, this time with Sune Rose Wagner from the Raveonettes.

Only in Dreams more than fulfills the promise of 2011’s He Gets Me High EP, with impassioned, front-and-center vocals from Dee Dee that sometimes recall one of her heroines, Chrissie Hynde; big singalong choruses draped with almost choral harmonies; a chugging wash of guitars drenched in reverb, tremelo and fuzz; and mighty, booming bass and drums. “I’ve always wanted to be in a loud rock & roll band and still maintain some feminine sound,” Dee Dee says. “So even though this album is much poppier and a lot more polished, it’s still tough.” “Heartbeat” hooks with its Buddy Holly-esque guitar line, while “In My Head” uncorks one of the album’s greatest choruses, and brace yourself for the incredibly poignant closer “Hold Your Hand.”

Listen to the slowdive ballad “Coming Down,” which Dee Dee wrote not long after her mom passed away. “That song came out of being in and out of awareness of the depth of the situation,” she says. “Sometimes when I write, I don’t really analyze what I’m saying but the more I hear that song, the deeper it feels. I don’t know if I’m addressing life or God or what, but it’s our big, epic song on every scale.”

Dee Dee wrote “Bedroom Eyes” after returning from a European tour, jet-lagged and lonely. “I was home alone,” she says. “Insomnia was taking its toll; I felt absolutely crazy. I looked up poetry on the subject and found a Dante Gabriel Rosetti poem and the song was born from that. I’d finally convinced my dad to give me one of his prescription sleeping pills and it kicked in while I was writing the song and I started hallucinating.”

Only in Dreams represents a musical evolution for Dum Dum Girls and a personal one for Dee Dee, and that’s no coincidence. “I’m for real,” she says. “We all are. I’m really passionate about this, it’s all I know. And maybe we’ve just grown up a bit—or grown out a bit. There’s some weight to what we do, and a pure intent, and I think that comes across on this album.”
Still Corners
Still Corners
Many bands lay claim to the adjective “cinematic.” But how many can claim a truly cinema-worthy moment as part of their inception? It was a dark and foggy night when Still Corners songwriter Greg Hughes first laid eyes on vocalist Tessa Murray. “It sounds stupid but it’s completely true,” he recounts. “I was on a train that was going to London Bridge. But for some reason it went to this other stop. And I got out, and this other person got out. It was Tessa.”

It was a fitting moment for the American musician who came to London to pursue a career in music. A devoted cinephile—whose first release Remember Pepper recalls both the youthful tone of French New Wave and the unease of Italian horror—Hughes sees film as a major influence, from the projections (created by band member Leon Dufficy) that feature heavily in their live performances (“It’s nice to have something lovely to look at”), to the free-floating grace of debut full-length, Creatures of an Hour. “There’re just certain things in certain movies, like older horror movies and other foreign films, that you see sometimes. They just have a certain vibe and atmosphere,” says Hughes. “You’ll see a girl walking towards a train, it’s very atmospheric. There’s a great vibe in that—all these little bits, these tiny moments. That’s what I was trying to go back to. To bottle that up and put it into a song.”

Recorded at Hughes’ own studio in Greenwich, the devil is truly in the details of Creatures of an Hour. Fusing whispered intimacy to the emotional expansiveness of composer Ennio Morricone, Hughes crafts deceptively simple songs that linger like half-remembered dreams. Lead single “Cuckoo” shines in its simplicity, a single drumbeat, ghostly guitar, and distant organ highlighting Murray’s haunting soprano as she asks, “I’d like to read your mind/can you read mine?” “It’s about confusion,” explains Hughes. “It’s about being confused. Am I going crazy? Does this person like me? What’s happening? That’s the vibe of the whole record really.”

Elsewhere, the tone isn’t so much one of emotional conflict as it is pure atmosphere. Like a world-class art director, Hughes fills the set of “Endless Summer” with walls of reverb and splashes of longing, echoing a very real conflict in his own life—the pursuit of the illusive London sun. “It’s about wishing and chasing after the fleeting sun of England and wishing for an endless summer—or at least that the summer would go on a bit longer,” he says with a laugh. “It only seems to last about a week here!”

For the time being, Hughes is happy to maintain Still Corners’ musical mystery as—like many artists—he’s discovered less is more. “I don’t like to talk too much on decoding the songs. It takes the mystery away,” he says, cagily. “I like when people listen and then come up with their own kind of thing.”

Still Corners (now filled out to a 4-piece by Leon Dufficy and Luke Jarvis) are releasing their debut LP Creatures Of An Hour on October 11th. Tour dates to be announced soon.

So grab some popcorn and stick around, for Still Corners this is just act one.
Memoryhouse
Memoryhouse
Amidst a haze of sepia-tinged delirium, the swirling reverb-cloaked concoctions of Toronto, Canada’s Memoryhouse exist to soundtrack the indelible moments residing in the obscure backrooms of memory. Translating songwriter Evan Abeele’s experience with classical modes and modern ambient composition, Memoryhouse create vivid depictions of surrealist beauty, unfolding with crystalline clarity and with a gentle vulnerability both lush and subtle. Accompanied by singer Denise Nouvion’s tender, nostalgic vocal delivery, Memoryhouse renders the blending of the contemporary with the forgotten, the traditional and the technological, the visual and the aural, forged within the sonographic landscapes of ‘dream pop’.

With the release of their debut E.P. The Years as a free download in January 2010, Memoryhouse garnered attention from notable indie music institutions such as Pitchfork Media and Gorilla vs. Bear, as well as receiving high acclaim from international magazines such as France’s Magic RPM. Their forthcoming release Looms of Youth on Arcade Sound LTD will not only refine the dreamy aesthetics introduced on The Years, but will explore new and exciting territory aided by their unique microscopic focus on sound and texture.
Jacuzzi Boys
Jacuzzi Boys
The year, 2007. The Boys, Jacuzzi. Hatched inside a vulture’s nest, Jacuzzi Boys emerged from deep within the Florida wilds, three radioactive chicks cawing for their piece of electric rock pie.

With No Seasons (Florida’s Dying) they freaked their way through the swamps, a psycho stomp of a record, all hallucinations and hand claps. Glazin’ (Hardly Art) found a more polished sound. They installed AC units inside their mobile homes, found a way to turn neon into ice cubes. Now, with their third full-length, the self-titled Jacuzzi Boys, they’re going grand, building limestone monuments to those that boogied before them, while writing hypnotic ear worms by the light of a cigarette. Gone is the swamp-thing snarl. In it’s place, the indestructible cool of the casino slot-jockey with nothing to lose.

Recorded at Key Club Recording Co. in Benton Harbor, Michigan—same as 2010’s Glazin’—the new record takes full advantage of expert engineers Bill Skibbe and Jessica Ruffins’ sonic sandlot, with Kramer in charge of mastering. The end result? A smashing set of tunes as dazzling as a sparkler.

It’s like that movie you once saw. The one with the boy and the girl and the plastic lounger on the beach. “Be My Prism” was the invitation. “Black Gloves” and “Double Vision” the promise. “Dust” was the rising tide. “Rubble,” the dirty uncle. “Hotline” was the lightning storm, and “Ultraglide” was the ending, the part where he drove her home with the windows down.

You remember you liked it.

It stayed with you while you swam alone in your pool that night.
Gem Club
Gem Club
There are times when beauty and sadness are inextricably linked. Massachusetts-based Gem Club understands this fragile symmetry. The band—singer/pianist Christopher Barnes and his collaborators, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian—create music that is intimate, graceful, and filled with melancholy. Their second album, In Roses, will arrive January 2014 from Hardly Art.

In 2009, Gem Club’s primary songwriter Christopher Barnes began playing local solo shows. The enthusiastic reception led him to bring Drymala and Berberian into the fold, and the six-song Acid and Everything EP was self-released the following year. Breakers, their subsequent full-length, paired plaintive piano melodies with impressionistic lyrics. Made primarily in Barnes’s bedroom, the album displayed how music, even at its most minimal and hushed, could be cathartic, even transcendent.

For the new In Roses, Gem Club have ventured beyond the isolation of the bedroom to record in San Francisco at John Vanderslice’s analog studio Tiny Telephone. Barnes worked closely with arranger and conductor Minna Choi of The Magik*Magik Orchestra, who, Barnes says, “helped reshape the new songs in fresh and unimagined ways,” The resulting album is more expansive, more majestic, than prior Gem Club releases. There are spacious, grand flourishes—the church-choir voices on “Idea for Strings”; the reverberating drumbeats that propel the melody of “Braid”—yet the music retains the intimacy of previous works.

Because In Roses is an album of haunting piano songs, it might seem felicitous to the listener that Christopher Barnes once lived in a disused Boston piano factory. Nights, from behind neighboring doors, he could hear strangers fighting, throwing loud parties, even shooting scenes for porn films. While life exploded around him, Barnes retreated, “trying to re-create these landscapes with music.” But he is quick to note that In Roses takes a different approach to the landscapes of the world than before. “Whereas Breakers was more about the body and inward-gazing, the new album is about me looking out on relationships I’ve had or wish I’ve had.” Many lyrics address “the crashing realization that lives are no longer happening the way we want.” Other songs are elegies for those Barnes has idolized or loved, but has lost: “Soft Season” is inspired by the life and death of early-90s gay adult film actor Joey Stefano (“I’m a boy on my back,” Barnes sings, “and I’m more of a man”); the harrowing closer “Polly” is a song he wrote about his relationship with his late aunt.

Beauty and Sadness is the title of a 1964 novel by the late Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata, but the name could also serve to describe the music of Gem Club. During one scene of the book, Kawabata writes, “He heard a sound that only a magnificent old bell could produce, a sound that seemed to roar forth with all the latent power of a distant world.” With In Roses, the beautiful and sad sounds of Gem Club come roaring forth with increasing power.

–Scott Heim
Xray Eyeballs
Xray Eyeballs
Xray Eyeballs began as the brainchild of guitarist O.J. San Felipe and bassist Carly Rabalais, who, after founding Brooklyn garage-rock juggernaut Golden Triangle (Hardly Art), sought a release that would sate both their sweet-toothed desires and their darker impulses, like a candy-coated Vicodin. Like their musical antecedents The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Velvet Underground, Xray Eyeballs creates a world of their own. Low-lifes, night-walkers, pill-riders, and other sordid characters stalk the band’s New York City streets and their songs compel you to follow them until you find the peace of a night redeemed in the morning light.
On “Splendor Squalor,” Xray Eyeballs’ second full-length on Kanine Records, refracted rays of that redemptive light shine through the band's eerie musical haze. The band evolves to more sophisticated songwriting and adventurous arrangement, while retaining the spark and energy of their raw early material, a progression that recalls Wire's "154" and The Cure's "Pornography." The addition of Sarah Baldwin (The Girls at Dawn, Fergus & Geronimo) on drums and Liz Lohse (Heaven, Runaway Suns) on guitar and synths expands the band's sonic possibilities with lush vocal harmonies, unique musical counterpoints and inspired songwriting contributions. Xray Eyeballs' new lineup deftly maneuvers from unctuous drones to punk rave-ups and new-wave bangers with a confidence and melodic sensibility that illuminates the splendor in the squalor.
The needle drops on “Four” and you find yourself enthused with the will to cross the dance floor and talk to that crush your friends warned you about. “I’m feeling alright,” San Felipe sings. You believe him and feel alright, too. The bass throbs with Factory-style control as “X” sends you oscillating wildly in a lovers’ power struggle: "I control you/ You control me." It’s 6 AM and you’re sitting on a couch between two guys who either wish they were Lou Reed and Alan Vega or actually are Lou Reed and Alan Vega. You shouldn’t have taken that last anything of anything. “Syrup,” featuring Christiana Key (Cult of Youth, Zola Jesus) on violin, wafts into the room and suddenly that time between last call and pancakes make sense.
Xray Eyeballs fully realizes their vision of "Splendor Squalor" live: skater kids donning the band’s signature “Ghost Girl” t-shirt bounce off the walls; the oldest punks in the world reluctantly acknowledge the validity of something new; hands typically stuffed in the pockets of skin-tight jeans wave in the air like they just don’t care; record nerds dance as if nobody’s blogging; goths smile. The band's undeniable energy brings the shadows in the darkness to life. These creatures bear witness to San Felipe’s blatant disregard for his physical well-being as the enraptured frontman, refusing to acknowledge the limitations of both stage and gravity, bounds recklessly around the crowd and dangles perilously from the ceiling, a provocation for the audience to match the band’s enthusiasm. Driven to seduce as many as possible into their world, Xray Eyeballs have toured across the country numerous times on their own, consistently delivering the show everyone will be talking about the next day.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002
http://mercuryloungenyc.com