Sorority Noise, The Hotelier, Oso Oso, Great Grandpa, Alex Napping
Thu, November 9, 2017
Doors: 5:00 pm / Show: 6:00 pmTrees
On As You Please the epidemic is bigger than addiction and overdoses. There is no longer a Dream to be pursued for the friends and family surrounding Citizen. The band explores that absence and the misguided ways in which it gets filled. On opener “Jet” the kids move slow and there’s a stranger living in the narrator’s home. Both are Kerekes’ discreet way of expressing the wreckage of widespread opiate addiction. “In The Middle Of It All” might be Citizen at their most hopeful, but it also reads as agonizing expression of the ruin in the Heartland.
As You Please also showcases the growing versatility of a band seven years deep and still restless. Citizen has fully outgrown the pop punk, but also refuses to brood in post-hardcore dirges. Written over the course of a year, the record is devoid of the brutish and sinister elements found on Everybody Is Going To Heaven. Here, Citizen go beyond the grunge to shoegaze contrasts and strive for something benevolent.
There’s a spiritual core to the record that manifests in subtle ways like the ethereal vocals echoing in the breakdown of “Control,” the droning organs on “You Are A Star” or the almost operatic refrain on “In The Middle Of It All.” The finespun ways in which Citizen has written this record mark a cataclysmic breakthrough for the band. There is damage and disarray in the band member’s daily lives, but within this record all the pieces have been restored in an ornate arrangement befitting a stained glass mosaic.
In the end, As You Please tries to give strength to those in need. There are illitic factors that control, but Citizen has written a guiding light of an album out of the debris. It concludes with “You Are A Star” and “Flowerchild;” one an unstable request of confidence set to soaring progressions, the other a blistering finale that subverts expectation. As You Please might read as meek, but it represents Citizen in its most confident and expansive state.
That, is Sorority Noise in a nutshell: part of a movement, but also discrete and determined to break free from the pack. Truth be told, the Connecticut-based quartet—Boucher, guitarist/vocalist Adam “Scuff” Ackerman, bassist/vocalist Ryan McKenna and drummer Charlie Singer—have always operated a little differently than most of their peers.
For starters, Boucher attended the University of Hartford for jazz saxophone, while guitarist Ackerman studies acoustics and upright bass. But it’s not just their unorthodox musical chops that set the band apart in the underground punk scene. With the release of their Topshelf Records debut, JOY, DEPARTED, Sorority Noise—recently named one of the 100 Bands You Need to Know in 2015 by Alternative Press—are poised to break out in a big way.
Joy, Departed is more than just the best iteration of Sorority Noise to date; the album also marks a creative shift for Boucher, who draws musical influence from a diverse crop of acts spanning Regina Spektor and jazz trumpeter Chet Baker to The Smiths and Broken Social Scene—and previously spent time fronting screamo band Old Gray. In some ways, the singer says he approached the creative process like writing his very first album.
Boucher started Sorority Noise in late 2013 with friends as an outlet to explore musical styles outside his work in Old Gray. The group then recruited Ackerman and issued their debut full-length, Forgettable, in May 2014. Much buzz—and tours with rising stars Modern Baseball and The Hotelier—followed, as did a split 7” with Somos and the arrivals of Singer (whom Boucher had played with in Old Gray) and McKenna.
Outside of pure proficiency, one of the more gripping elements of Sorority Noise's musical direction is the band’s willingness to speak of personal hardships, including the often-taboo topic of addiction on songs like the heart-wrenching album-closer “When I See You (Timberwolf).”
"There’s so many people having drug problems—and a lot of bands who play it safe and don’t want to talk about it,” Boucher explains. “I think it’s important to be shown in modern music. I like to be honest about my past and talk about things that have had me down. As a lyricist, you are responsible for the people who care about your music.”
That’s ultimately what makes Joy, Departed such an important album: It’s life, warts and all, sung by someone who’s been through it firsthand. It’s not always rosy, but it’s real. Above all, it’s an album meant to be experienced as a body of work—not single songs plucked piecemeal or shuffled on a streaming service. And for Boucher, he hopes it will show critics and fans alike Sorority Noise has something to say, something he’s willing to say as loudly as they’ll let him.
During recording, guitarist Dylan Hanwright joined the group, solidifying the lineup. Great Grandpa began performing in the Seattle area in late 2014, frequenting the city's DIY venues. In March of 2015, their debut EP Can Opener was released on Broken World Media. The EP was met with considerable praise, and has been described as "warm, slightly off-kilter grunge pop", and "knotty, twisted, and warm rock music that's as melodically satisfying as it is, at times, confounding."
Great Grandpa began writing their debut LP soon after, and found themselves touring the western US and performing extensively in the Seattle area. Written in 2015 and 2016, Great Grandpa's debut LP Plastic Cough continues to explore the sonic territory visited in Can Opener, exhibiting infectious melodies across a range of backdrops, from quiet bedroom-pop to explosive, anthemic rock. Plastic Cough is out July 7th via Double Double Whammy.
In 2014, the band released their debut album, This Is Not A Bedroom, on Punctum Records. With a guitar-focused sound, this first release reflects nostalgia for early romance and self-discovery, drawing from collective conversations about youth and its limitations. As an expansion of the themes found in Bedroom, Alex Napping released Trembles Part I & II in 2016, a pair of expressive singles hinging on a short story composed by Cohen. Trembles caught the ear of both NPR and BBC Radio 1, earning featured spots on their respective SXSW coverage. Mise En Place, the band's upcoming sophomore full-length, weaves together the uncertainty of adulthood with a personal desire to establish existential structure. It also marks the band's first release with San Francisco-based Father/Daughter Records. Revolving around a formative relationship, this album tells the story of Cohen's conflicting roles as both person and partner while highlighting a sophisticated, dimensional sound from the band at large. In Mise En Place, arrangements take center stage, overwhelming the guitar-centric sound that had dominated their early releases. This new band dynamic comes together articulately in the album's lead single, Living Room. Moody and honest, with tracks that express both joy and isolation, Mise En Place explores the struggle to evade traditionalism, define personal success, and balance the expectations of love.
Mise En Place comes out on Father/Daughter Records on May 5th, 2017. You can find the band somewhere between Austin and New York City.
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