Yellowbirds, Gabriel and the Hounds

Late Show


Gabriel and the Hounds

Thu, August 23, 2012

Doors: 9:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$10 advance / $12 day of show

This event is 21 and over

Yellowbirds - (Set time: 10:30 PM)
Songs from the Vanished Frontier, the second album from New York’s Yellowbirds, includes love songs and breakup songs, happy numbers and sad numbers, tunes about not believing in the truth and, alternately, tunes about delivering it. There’s bracing rock ’n’ roll and bubbling folk, drifting jangle and swiveling R&B. But the thread that unites these nine instantly affecting songs is their search to find the signal amid the noise—that is, to understand the world and its whirlwind and to deliver just a little bit of clarity every three or four minutes. “What have I believed in?” Sam Cohen sings toward the end of the title track, his voice a near-murmur that peeks out from beneath the ashes of a smoldering empire. “How will I deceive me now?”

That quest for answers and assurance suits Cohen’s backstory: After the 2009 end of his longtime vehicle for wild, radiant anthems and experiments, Apollo Sunshine, Cohen thought his musical career might be over. But a clutch of songs he wrote in his bedroom soon found currency with a few New York musicians, and they started developing and playing them under the name Yellowbirds. The band’s 2011 debut, The Color, received favorable reviews, with Pitchfork Media noting that the record espoused “an endearing raggedness … as though Cohen invited you into his living room.”

Vanished Frontier hinges on the same intimacy, but you’d never mistake it for a living room project. Indeed, for the first time, Cohen and his now full-time band (drummer Brian Kantor, singer/bassist Annie Nero, her husband and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman) had their own studio in which to build the new songs and sounds.
“I knew the sonic possibilities were broader than ever before, so I made a point to write the entire album on an acoustic guitar before delving into recording,” says Cohen. “I wanted to believe in the songs in their rawest form.”

Again, he wanted to keep the signal clear from the noise, and that’s precisely what Vanished Frontier achieves. It’s not a fussy album, overpopulated by a load of special guests and strange accessories. And Cohen’s brilliant guitar playing is never flashy so much as it is functional, sending simple lines through a web of carefully chosen effects to help illustrate the stories he sings. On “Vanished Frontier,” for instance, the arid guitar seems to be shaking its world-weary head every time Cohen uncovers another lie; during the lovelorn equivocation of “Mean Maybe,” the six-string solo warps the blues into a pattern that’s as fractured as Cohen’s feelings.

That’s not to say, of course, that these songs are spare or stripped in any way. This is still Sam Cohen, of course, draping and dressing these tunes with spectral harmonies and backmasked voices, decorative percussion and interwoven textures. It’s just that these songs now stand on their own and then glow in the presence of the band and the studio. In the end, then, the noise supports the signal.
Gabriel and the Hounds - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
Gabriel and the Hounds
Brooklyn artist, Gabriel Levine, best know as founding member and singer in Takka Takka is set to release his debut, Kiss Full of Teeth under the moniker, Gabriel and the Hounds.

In the midst of a feverish writing cycle, Gabe realized the new material differed from Takka Takka songs. He was creating intimate sketches, raw and personal, that joined together as stories of disappointment, letting go and of the inevitability of endings, those of relationships, youth and innocence. Inspired by Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love he found a name for the project and was on his way.

Gabe recorded the album around Brooklyn in living rooms, garages, and in proper studios including community stalwart Seaside Lounge and The National’s garage studio in Ditmas Park. Kiss Full of Teeth juxtaposes the quiet intimacy of its birth via lo-fi field recorder, with the nuanced warmth professional microphones capture of the expansive orchestration later added.

Organic sounds of trains, birds, breath, and fingers moving urgently over strings intermix through layered vocals, reverb, and drum parts, all of which blend thoughtfully into the album’s narrative. The impressions of cold stones, worn wood, and rusted steel glide between the actual notes struck. Such is the enveloping power of Kiss Full of Teeth.

On "The World Unfolds" Gabriel and the Hounds sounds buoyant and brash. The band shakes off rusting shackles - drums and voice rushing forward, chasing each other away from the past, not looking back. On "Wire and Stone" ghostly vocals call out to droning woodwinds. And what begins as a small melody on guitar on "Talk of the Town" builds with a powerful voice, confident drums and sweeping orchestra. Aching psalms of being left give way to the rebellion of leaving. Kiss Full of Teeth arcs gracefully to its completion and closes with solo piano ringing out on "An Ending (Between Friends)."

While the creation of these songs was a very solitary endeavor, the recording became a community affair. Showing its Brooklyn colors, Kiss Full of Teeth includes a long list of players who have brackets after their name proclaiming their band affiliations. The various musicians who came together to record this album include performers who are in or have recorded with: The National, Beirut, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sufjan Stevens, Pat Jordache, Tune-Yards, Bjork, Jonsi, and St Vincent.

Artist Biography:

Gabe Levine was born in Singapore in the latter part of the 1970s and raised in New York City. His father, a native New Yorker was traveling with the Peace Corp in India and Asia, when he met Gabe’s mother in Bali. The short-lived union brought the world Gabe. He moved to NY when he was 2-years old, and was raised there by his father.

His father is Jewish, but feeling more of an affinity with the Hindu faith he brought Gabe up free of organized religion. Growing up his walks to school included passing by a Yeshiva and a Catholic school. Smaller than the other kids his age, he would routinely get beat up. He’s in the middle of writing a record about faith now.

Gabe studied Philosophy at college and painting in Bali. He wanted to be a painter but found he was much better musician than a painter. He has created album art and concert posters for his other band, Takka Takka. Paying the rent in New York has included gigs as a graphic artist and a political campaign worker.

He loves cooking, sci-fi books and spending time with his imaginary dogs, Nummo and Look-loo.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002