The Bowery Ballroom
Besnard Lakes

Besnard Lakes

Gem Club, Weeknight

Fri, May 3, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

$15 advance / $17 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Besnard Lakes
Besnard Lakes
There is a war now. The message has been sent through short wave in code. The Besnard Lakes twisting chronicle, or fever dream, of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods has turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, hatred all seen through the eyes of two spies, fighting a war that may not be real. One follows the other as they receive coded messages and spread destruction. The city is burning, and it’s to the benefit of music obsessives everywhere. Once again, the husband-and-wife duo of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek has crafted a majestic, sprawling vision of guitar bombast and captivating pop experiments.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night calls upon the influence of ELO and finer parts of the Alan Parsons Project in its orchestration. Still helped by the Ghost of Beach Boys Past, the album is more Dennis Wilson than Brian, and more Peter Green Fleetwood Mac than Lindsay Buckingham. That said, standout track “Albatross” has all the swagger of a Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac classic or Roy Orbison reimagined as a rollicking, snakeskin-booted Mazzy Star — dousing it all in gas and throwing the match as we hear its tale of Vancouver’s skid row and its inhabitants.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night was tracked and recorded on Breakglass Studio’s latest acquisition, a 1968 Neve germanium mixing console rumored to have been used to record portions of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. The album also introduces some new instrumentation for the band: 12 string guitar, flute, omnichord and mellotron. With the aid of Besnard members Kevin Laing on drums and Richard White on guitar, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night is a dense, ambitious recording, experimenting, as always, with the studio as instrument.

The album is a dark bliss-out that folds the eerie guitar epics of the Montreal band’s breakthrough into a wall of affected drones and atmospherics, but with a toughened immediacy and grit that gives the form a much-needed shove over the cliffs, making for a haunting, provocative swan dive into the crushing tide.
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
Weeknight
Weeknight
Weeknight’s Post-Everything curates an eerie vibe. Analog and electric creep together seamlessly on this New York duo’s debut album, bringing together hard beats with a soft touch. Weeknight hops between genres effortlessly, creating an evocative mystique with lingering vocals and plucked solos. Truly mastering the ability to mix, Weeknight delivers a glorious phantasm to lose yourself in. Static synth lines bubble between the knocking beat of the drum, nudging you into an ephemeral trance.

With Post-Everything, Weeknight delivers a myriad of stellar tracks that fully flesh out their soundscape. Sound of My Voice bumps a steady drumbeat, merging it with a healthy dose of synth and bass. The crescendo in its wailing solo bears a thematic similarity to Weeknight’s other dark tracks. Tonight, with its running rhythm and synth, gives a compelling pop to its beat. Honey sweetly draws the listener in with another catchy synth-driven hook, an art that Weeknight has mastered so effectively. With every track on this record, Weeknight truly pushes the envelope, bringing audiences a dreamlike atmosphere.
Weeknight LP and DGTL available now.
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/