Feeling lonely tonight? Turn off the TV and lower the lights. Baltimore duo BEACH HOUSE are in town. Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand have mastered delicate pop tunes about love, feeling, and, of course, devotion.
Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand met through a mutual friend in 2004. BEACH HOUSE formed in the late spring of 2005 (the year of the rooster) after both parties realized that they had a preternatural musical vinculum.
While spending a good deal of time together playing and recording music Alex and Victoria enjoy not dating, not being related and not having grown up together. As such questions are tossed at them often the duo also shares the common interest of explaining to people that they are not dating, not related and did not grow up together.
Oddly enough, they both existed separately before meeting one another. They had adorable little childhoods. Alex was born and bred in Baltimore City, and Victoria grew up just about everywhere. She was born in Paris (France) where she lived until she was 6, and she remains fluent in French. She then hustled it on over to Baltimore, but somehow in the era of chicken pox their ships missed each other in the night, and Victoria soon moved on to the glamorously rural Cecil County, Maryland. She then moved north to Philadelphia before she hopped back to Paris for a stint and finally returned once again to and settled in Baltimore. Alex was...still living in Baltimore and when Victoria returned to Baltimore the two experienced the aforementioned meeting. It was thrilling for all participants involved.
Both members of the band have long-standing relationships with playing and learning about music. Alex began tickling the ivories in elementary school and picked up (and played) other instruments in his early high school years. This is also when he first began recording music. Similarly, Victoria was classically trained in piano from the age of 7 and began formally training her voice at the age of 14. She also studied theatre formally at the International School of Jacques Lecoq. Victoria started writing her own songs at the age of 18, after deciding that she'd rather play her own music than mouthing other poets, as they say. A lot of the lyrics and songs she currently composes find their seeds in the piano and organ playing she does.
The pair agrees that their influences are too numerous to list. Fortunately, they both like listening to music and right now they like listening to THE ZOMBIES, NEIL YOUNG, EMITT RHODES, DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, THE SUPREMES, NIRVANA, EARTH, ANN PEEBLES, THE BEACH BOYS, HANK WILLIAMS, RAVEL, JOHN CALE, VELVET UNDERGROUND, ELLIOTT SMITH, THE BEATLES, and DANIEL JOHNSTON amongst others.
The band recorded their first, self-titled album in February of 2006 and the second, 'Devotion', in August of 2007, the year of our Lord. They have toured with ARBOURETUM, CLIENTELE and GRIZZLY BEAR. When they're not touring about and playing music Victoria and Alex support themselves by working within the sidewalk jobs. Alex slings a hammer as a carpenter and Victoria slings booze as a bartender.
Look & listen:
TINY VIPERS is Jesy Fortino, a musician living in Seattle. Creating and performing the music for her new album with a singular approach, 'Life on Earth' is a private vision unfolding, at times crystal-clear and at other times shrouded in a mystical fog. People and times past wander through these songs like ghosts looking for a home. And questions arise for anyone listening: Where did they go? Where have they been?
Since her last and first album, 2007’s 'Hands Across the Void', Fortino has been back and forth across Europe, on tours into and through the United States, transfixing audiences into a solemn hush. Her captivating performance on the Burn to Shine 5: Seattle DVD proved such a highlight that a still from it is the cover of that edition. Braving a world at times not ready to contemplate its own doing, she brings honesty to her live performances.
Recordings for the new album began at home and were then interpreted by Andrew Hernandez in a classic analog studio in Austin, TX. Retaining both the glow of her work on guitar and the strength of her voice, Hernandez has captured the organic nature mirrored in the concepts of the album. A special effort was made to keep the recordings as authentic as possible. Like much of her previous work, she uses the past as a lantern to illuminate the darkness of the future.
Transcending the mere folk tag (“She’s not telling stories; she’s after incantation and trance”—New York Times), Fortino leaves behind her contemporaries. The music has been deconstructed into an aether that floats beside the poignant lyrics. Drawing from disparate inspirational sources, from the avant-garde or country musician TOWNES VAN ZANDT, Fortino’s playing is no imitation. It stands as its own, giving a musical life to those themes that inhabit her lyricisms: love found and lost, places come and gone. The persona of this album stands like a mountain watching the world go by, changing so fast. The future annihilates the past, consuming it like a fire.
Yet this is no bleak dirge. There are triumphs hidden behind the sorrows. A shining hope permeates the threat of doom here. Desperation fades and leaves you free in the end.
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Chantal Acda has been performing and recording under the name SLEEPINGDOG since 2006. ‘Polar Life’ is her second album following her debut ‘Naked in a Clean Bed’ which was released on Zeal back in 2006.
On both these records Chantal has worked with Adam Wiltzie (STARS OF THE LID / DEAD TEXAN). Adam has become an essential part of the music, bringing his trademark soundscapes and strings into the songs and handling production duties.
Wiltzie suggested to select for ‘Polar Life’ only those songs in which beats are all but absent, so the subdued pureness and the unity of the atmosphere of the album go beyond the limits of New-Folk and Folktronica.
The fitful climate and the fairy-like atmosphere of Iceland remains a great source of inspiration for the music of SLEEPINGDOG. Thus the poem ‘Nú hverfur sól í haf’ by the Icelandic author and poet Sigurbjörn Einarsson was used as a starting point for the track ‘The Sun sinks in the Sea’.
For the first time a cover appears on a SLEEPINGDOG album: ‘If Only’ by Sophia, a song that was already popular when sung live.
The artwork on 'Polar Life' was again done by the Greek-American media-artist Christina Vantzou.
Previous to SLEEPINGDOG, Chantal recorded under her own name to release ‘Dreamy Yell’ in 1999 before moving from her native Netherlands to Belgium. In 2003 her new band CHACDA released ‘La Sortie’ and toured the UK with LAMBCHOP.
Look & listen:
Ticket information: £14 adv / MOTD
Spillers Records, Cardiff SU box office, Derricks Music (Swansea), Bristol Ticket Shop
IN ASSOCIATION WITH KRUGER MAGAZINE