Widowspeak

Widowspeak

Clearance, Air Waves

Fri, October 13, 2017

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

Rough Trade NYC

Brooklyn, NY

$15

This event is 21 and over

Widowspeak
Widowspeak
Widowspeak remain purveyors of mood. Whether painting an image of a basement apartment with blinds closed or conjuring the sweeping openness of a desert, they’re an outfit ever preoccupied with the influence of place and the passage of time on personal experience: the way vivid memories can feel like movies or dreams.

On their newest album for Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks, Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask, “How did we get here?” Sonically, they exist somewhere in the overlap between somber indie rock, dream pop, slow-core and their own invented genre, “cowboy grunge.” At the heart of the band, there is a palpable duality, a push and pull between the delicate and the deliberate: the contrast of lead singer-songwriter Molly Hamilton’s strikingly beautiful voice and poignant melodies with the terrestrial reality of being a four-piece rock band. These songs sound like the dark bars and rock clubs they were imagined for just as much as the bedrooms where they were written. Expect the Best sees Widowspeak finding their greatest balance between opposing forces: darkness and light, quiet and loud, tension and calm.

The album was written while Hamilton was living in Tacoma, Washington after previous stints in upstate New York and Brooklyn. So much moving around, and specifically a move back to the place she grew up, was the catalyst for a record concerned with self-examination and the sense of dread that comes from feeling adrift (“Dog”). Whether navigating the anxieties of social media and self-preservation in the digital age (“Expect the Best”), struggling to maintain motivation (“When I Tried”), or critiquing western-centric wanderlust and aspiration (“The Dream”), the songs here recognize that there’s no going back in time. Hamilton’s lyrics explore the space between regret and anticipation, reconciling the desire to dwell with a need to “expect the best,” even as the best seems unlikely.

“In the past I’ve felt compelled to write songs that are more optimistic than I’m actually feeling, as if I could make it true, as if everything in the past was significant or beautiful in a way, even if it was painful. But the truth is that not everything makes sense, and not every day of your life is an experience of clear cut emotional clarity,” says Hamilton. “I struggle with this compulsion to pull away from people, pull away from the things I enjoy doing, and sometimes literally picking up and moving away when I am feeling uneasy and anxious about my future in a given space, physical or mental. Social media these days can exacerbate that as well.”

Although Widowspeak’s last two records — Almanac (2013) and All Yours (2015) — were conceived as a duo with lead guitarist Robert Earl Thomas, Expect the Best finds them playing to the specific strengths of the current touring incarnation (James Jano on drums, Willy Muse on bass). The album, recorded by Kevin MacMahon (Swans, Real Estate), exhibits a marked increase in energy that reflects the band’s live show and the organic way it was created: by four people in a room together. The band collectively navigate dynamic changes with subtlety and restraint; the nine tracks here reach highs of wide-eyed lushness and plumb the depths of resigned melancholy. Their usual palette of dusty guitars and angular twang are still here front and center, but now with a bit more 90s homage, even if abstractly. The Pacific Northwest influences creep in throughout, as do varying flavors of New York’s legacy, the city the band still partially calls home. It’s their heaviest record to date, but never loses the sense of quiet intimacy that Widowspeak is known for.
Clearance
Clearance
Clearance is an independent rock band from Chicago. After releasing a string of 7"s and tapes beginning in 2013, the group released its debut LP "Rapid Rewards" in September 2015 via Tall Pat Records and Unsatisfied Records.
Air Waves
Air Waves
While attending Purchase College Nicole Schneit aka Air Waves met Dan Deacon, a friend and former collaborator who once described her comforting songs as something akin to “a favorite blanket wrapped around you.” Though she played in several bands in college (including the noise jam band Ferrari with Deacon) she eventually shifted her focus to writing and recording intimate pop songs under the name Air Waves, a moniker inspired by the title of a Guided by Voices song.

In 2010 Schneit released Dungeon Dots, an album which Aquarius Records called “…pretty much perfect pop music.” After extensive touring in support of that album, she took some time off from writing. “It was crucial for my creative process to take a step back from making music. Part of being a performer is having confidence to just be vulnerable. I needed to regain that confidence to make an album again after Dungeon Dots,“ says Schneit. The vulnerability she speaks of is part of what makes her music as Air Waves so compelling. Even her fictional narratives employ an almost preternatural honesty that feels emotionally naked, exposed, and ultimately relatable.

She initially recorded her new album Parting Glances as cheaply as possible, but unsatisfied with the results Schneit enlisted long-time friend Jarvis Taveniere of the band Woods to help rerecord the entire album (selling her tour van in the process, to help cover the studio time). Working with Taveniere in the studio, she took a great deal of care to ensure that each song felt exactly right. As she explains, “Every song feels complete and structured without losing the warmness that I strive for. I wanted them to sound tight and full without sounding overproduced. Jarvis was the guy that helped make that happen.“ In addition to Taveniere, Schneit enlisted other friends from Brooklyn's music community to contribute to the record, including JB Townsend of Crystal Stilts, Becca Kauffman and Felicia Douglas from Ava Luna, and Brian Betancourt from Hospitality. Additionally, Jana Hunter contributes vocals to album standouts “Horse Race“ and “Thunder”.

The album's title comes from the 1986 film Parting Glances in which Steve Buscemi portrays a gay man navigating the difficulties of being in a relationship in Reagan-era New York. “I've never seen a film with Steve Buscemi in it that I didn't love,” says Schneit. More than just identifying with the story, she's interested in the in the lasting effect of the parting glances we share with strangers in our everyday encounters. She explains “You see all sorts of physical and emotional traits on the train. From people puking, making out, screaming, crying, laughing, dancing, grooming, etc. We encounter each other in the thick of our complex lives by simply looking at each other all the time. These glances are mundane and fleeting but also powerfully intimate.” The lingering impact of those brief moments seeps into the details and imagery she delivers through her lyrics on Parting Glances. With energizing hooks and a disarming lack of pretense, the songs on Parting Glances burn with ebullient energy and an emotionally engaging core from beginning to end.
Venue Information:
Rough Trade NYC
64 N 9th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249