Team Genius, Ximena Sarinana, Lucius

Late Show

Team Genius

Ximena Sarinana


Wed, January 25, 2012

Doors: 8:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

This event is 21 and over

Team Genius - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Team Genius
CMJ said: "It doesn't take exceptionally high IQs to realize the power of bouncy synths and endless falsettos, but it helps," while L Magazine put it this way: "Their material reveals a band with a sophisticated understanding of pop music, honing in on gliding harmonies and bright, boxy choruses." Either way, we agree.
Ximena Sarinana - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
Ximena Sarinana
When Mexican vocalist Ximena Sariñana (hi-MEN-a sa-rin-YAH-na) released her debut solo album, Mediocre, in 2008, Rolling Stone gave it four stars and praised it as “one of the strongest debuts from a female singer-songwriter since Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me.” Recording the Spanish-language album was a natural step for Sariñana, who had risen to fame in her homeland as a child actress and had fronted a successful indie band for four years. “In Mexico, people believed in me as an artist,” says the fully bilingual 25-year-old. So when she began thinking about recording an album in English she was confronted with a tough decision: “Either stay in my country, where everyone knows who I am, or start from scratch and convince people that I’m worth it.” She chose the latter.
The result is a collection of songs that showcase her deep, striking voice, smart, thoughtful lyrics and offbeat personality. “I think of albums as Polaroid pictures of who I was at that given moment,” says Sariñana. “All the songs are a bit dark. They capture a sort of general doom that I try to compensate with humor,” she says. The lead single, “Different,” opens with a playful whistle but is really an apology to listeners “about maybe not expressing myself clearly because of my different nationality,” while “Bringing Us Down” was inspired by the poem “Candles” by Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy and deals with growing older and looking back at the fading past. The album not only reflects Sariñana’s wise-beyond-her years demeanor, but also the kind of sonic growth and experimentation expected from a risk-taker.

“Everything was about forcing myself out of my comfort zone,” says the singer, having leapt beyond her usual stripped down, mellow arrangements and into more daring musical territory. “I wanted quicker, bigger sounding songs and more bass and electronic instruments,” says Sariñana, who plays the piano throughout. “I needed to be able to move to it on stage.”

To help accomplish this, she enlisted producers Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Devo, The Bird and the Bee), Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Natalia Lafourcade. Recorded in Los Angeles, the songs are indeed snapshots; vignettes of events and emotions ornamented by lush arrangements and lightened by occasional whimsy. “Common Ground” is exalted with bells and space drums and “Wrong Miracle” includes circuit-bent children’s toys and footsteps on gravel. “Echo Park,” one of the last songs recorded, was built around a Casio drum machine and the need for a little comic relief. “I wanted to write something that was going to make me laugh. I didn’t want to go too deep or serious like I usually do,” says Sariñana. “I decided to make fun of how girls, especially in my world, always fall for guys in a band.”

“Tu Y Yo” (You and Me) is the only song on the album sung entirely in Spanish. “My mother language and the country where I live in is such an important part of who I am,” says Sariñana, who was born in Guadalajara and raised partly in LA before moving to Mexico City.

Raised in a highly creative family—her mother is a screenwriter and her father is a film director and producer—instilled a love of the arts in her early on. “I was four years old when I started acting,” says Sariñana, a natural-born entertainer who became a household name in Mexico by appearing in 11 films (among them box office hit Amar Te Duele and film festival winner Dos Abrazos) as well as three prime time telenovelas.

An early discovery of jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald ignited her love of music, and at age 15 she began studying at Mexico’s Academia de Musica Fermatta. At 17, she honed her vocal skills during a five-week program at Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music and then began fronting a jazz-funk fusion band called Feliz No Cumpleaños (Happy Un-Birthday), which “made a bit of noise in the underground,” as she puts it. She also brought together her loves of film and music on occasion, co-writing and singing three songs on the Amar Te Duele soundtrack (which stayed on the Top 10 Soundtracks list in Mexico for 10 years) and acting as music supervisor for several films.

By the time Mediocre was released, Ximena’s status as a artist was already cemented; the record debuted at number one in Mexico and went platinum soon after. Mediocre reached #10 on the Billboard Latin Pop Chart, #38 on the Billboard Latin Album Chart and Ximena was the only Latin artist in Itunes Best 10 Albums of 2008. She won the Best New Artist Award in the Premios MTV Latinoamerica 2008 (Latin MTV Awards) and received three Latin Grammy Nominations for Best New Artist, Best Alternative Song and Producer of the Year. Mediocre also received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.

Despite her successes, Sariñana has no expectations when it comes to her English-language debut. “It’s my first record to a lot of people. I just hope listeners can hear the honesty in the album,” she says. “I titled it after myself because my name keeps it close to me and who I am as an artist and a person.” It’s a name many will come to recognize soon enough.
Lucius - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Lucius knew from the start they were on to something special. Centered around the powerful voices and compelling songwriting of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the Brooklyn band has evolved from a promising duo into a dynamic quintet whose 2013 debut LP WILDEWOMAN (Mom + Pop) is lauded by The New York Times as “an art school take on girl group soul.”

Hailed by The Boston Globe as “the most welcome addition to pop music this year” WILDEWOMAN ¬¬has landed on numerous critics’ year-end best of lists. Ranked #25 by Amazon, admired by Paste for its “strong song structures, substantive lyrics and precise playing” and included in NPR’s top 50 albums of 2013, Lucius pairs the synchronous vocals of Wolfe and Laessig, who play synth and keyboards, with guitars and drums from Dan Molad, Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri. Together, they make music that evokes classic girl-group pop and iconic rock ’n’ roll with a modern twist, that belongs solely to Lucius. But none of it happened overnight.

“We’ve been singing together for almost nine years,” Wolfe says. “We never wanted to rush anything. We never looked for a record deal before it felt like we needed one, and we never wanted to be on tour until we felt like we could sustain ourselves on the road. It was important for us to hone our craft.”

Wolfe and Laessig met in college in Boston, bonding over a love of old-school soul, David Bowie and the Beatles. They sing as though each is one half of the same voice, with riveting, resonant unison parts on songs like “Hey Doreen,” the propulsive first single from WILDEWOMAN; and harmonies that feel instinctive as their voices diverge and then meld together on the ineffably catchy title track.

“We started singing in unison because we were always drawn to doubled vocals on recordings,” Wolfe says. “We figured it couldn’t hurt to try it in a live setting and it just felt like our voices were supposed to be sitting together – an automatic vocal kinship. In truth, many of our intentional decisions, when it comes to sounds and arrangements and even band setup, have been happy accidents.”

After their initial musical gathering, the pair started writing songs together, exploring a sense of otherness that each had felt growing up, and pairing it with arresting musical arrangements: from bright acoustic guitars and heartbroken vocals to layers of irresistible rhythm and bold melodies.
“Jess and I have shared unusually parallel experiences,” Laessig says. “We were both bullied during adolescence, which lit a fire in each of us. We have both experienced relationships and love on a similar timeline, so when we write songs together we have a natural empathy. The themes that run through this record reflect the struggles and realizations of becoming an adult, and of being a bit of an outsider sometimes, but embracing it. I think that’s something people can relate to.”

In 2007, Wolfe and Laessig moved to Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park, taking up residence at the Bromley House, which had, unbeknownst to them at the time, been a music school and recording studio for more than 60 years prior. Wolfe and Laessig established an open-door policy for the strong local community of musicians. First came Molad, a drummer, producer and engineer whom Lucius sought out for some early recording sessions (he also co-produced WILDEWOMAN). He introduced them to Lalish, his former bandmate in the indie-pop trio Elizabeth and the Catapult. Later, Molad met Burri while working on a different recording project, rounding out the Lucius family.

At the same time, Lucius was developing the memorable visual look the band employs onstage — “dressing the sound,” they call it. Taking inspiration from strong visual artists, and citing Bjork, Bowie, Warhol and Prince as style icons, the women are bedecked in a seemingly endless array of identical head-to-toe ensembles, complimented by the men’s sharp, tailored style.

Fresh off a year of acclaimed performances and rave reviews, Lucius’ steady ascent shows no signs of retreat. 2014 brings Lucius to a worldwide audience with WILDEWOMAN’s release in Europe, the UK, Australia and Japan (PIAS, March 2014), plus tour dates throughout the UK and Europe, appearances on some of the biggest U.S. summer festivals and more.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002