As you probably know by now, there is a fun event coming up this weekend called The MASH. The MASH is a performance event that happens every year during the first week of classes. It provides spaces and resources for different bands, singers, and artists to share their talent. Shoutout to Harrison Nir ’19, the student intern who has done a ton of work to make this event happen this year, and also Hanna Orovec, the staff member in the CFA that oversees the event. Give Josh‘s post a read if you want to know more about how this all came together. All of the groups that perform are Wesleyan affiliated, whether it be alumni bands like the one Michael Roth ’78 is in, faculty artists, or new ensembles like Good Morning Connecticut (GMCT). Below are some short interviews of student bands, including the aforementioned group GMCT, and another called Bonanza. We’ve also got some words from bassist Johnnie Gilmore ’18.
While you were busy watching all of Homeland over break, Robert Don ’15 and his St. Louis-based band Since 1902 released a new album, Slightly Elevated. In the days of yore—colloquially known as last semester—Wesleying featured their single, “Our Front Yard,” and now we’re back for seconds. The album marks a shift in the band’s sound and production quality. Some of you may be familiar with the band’s last full-length album, No Excuses Wednesdays (and if you’re not, you can—well, really should—listen and download here). While No Excuses has a more rock-inspired sound and features more of Don’s throaty National-esque vocals, Slightly Elevated is a foray into a poppier sound and highlights the vocals of bandmate Justin Enoch more (have no fear: you can still hear Don playing the guitar, bass, drums, banjo, mandolin, and doing a little singing). The production quality is also much higher than the band’s first releases and demonstrates their growth and finesse.
As the band describes the album on BandCamp,
Commemoratively titled, Slightly Elevated attempts to recreate the essence of Fancy Dress Day. The moment, as fleeting as it may have been, is crystalized forever through these 14 sumptuous tracks.
“Basically this album is about being in love, old American music, and Jesus.”
Continuing his ongoing quest to occupy something like 15% of my Top 20 Albums of 2012 list, Ben Seretan ’10 (I was going to write “of Duchampion fame,” but at this point I think “of Ben Seretan fame” is more appropriate) has got a new record on BandCamp. It’s called New Song, capping off a loose trilogy that includes last year’s New Music and 2012’s New Space, and it’s unsurprisingly fantastic, cycling through Americana-tinged originals, blues standards, and 48-minute boombox drones (okay, there is only one of those) with fluent ease. Between recording New Space, making a music video, dropping a collaborative LP with Portland band The Early, and materializing at Wesleyan to open for Oneohtrix Point Never in October, Seretan has stayed pretty busy in 2012. Somehow he has still made the time to take the audio of Grand Central with me next week. (Leave a comment if you want to join us.) (Serious inquiries only, please.)
Seretan recorded the album this summer, in a single afternoon (no overdubs), while in residency at the Wassaic Project. He wrote and rehearsed it in an old cattle auction barn. You’ll recognize a few of the originals from his performance on campus in October. According to Seretan, the setting strongly influenced the album’s thematic qualities:
I was going to begin this post with a comment on how much Brooklyn quartet DIIV has changed since they performed here last February, but really they haven’t. Besides changing their name from Dive to DIIV, the band is pretty much the same. Same syrupy guitar reverb. Same half-mumbled vocal lines from Zachary Cole Smith, who began the group as a side project from Beach Fossils. Same raggedy fashion aesthetic. Same dreampop melodies. Maybe drummer Colby Hewitt’s backbeats were a little more assertive this time around, but not much else.
It’s the audience that has changed. Or maybe it’s just gown exponentially. When DIIV opened for Teenage Cool Kids last February, their audience consisted of about eleven students and one beach ball. Last night, after a summer that brought them much hype and a few high–profile opening slots, DIIV commanded a crowd well over 200 and dove (ha) triumphantly through most of the material on debut LP Oshin. Plus, maybe it’s the lack of serious punk shows on the calendar this semester, but this crowd seemed especially ready to blow off steam.
Back in February, I posted about New Space, a fantastic collection of measured guitar buildups and stirring drones by homegrown guitar hero Ben Seretan ’10. The Duchampion alumnus recorded the record alone in a friend’s Greenpoint studio during the Superbowl. There was no bass or drums, because who needs bass and drums?
If you need bass and drums, Seretan writes in about In Two, an unsurprisingly stellar collaboration record between The Early, a Portland-based indie rock outfit, and himself. The album features more masterful six-string arpeggios, more emotionally fragile tales of driving cross-country and sleeping on porches—as well as full-band noise flare-ups (“Drive to Michigan”), feedback-laden spoken word (“All Dogs”), and muted guitar pop (“Onion Boy”). Lyrically, its themes include “dogs, Parsifal, stairs, driving around and listening to music, sleeping in places and on things, intimacy, earth cracking.” It’s also a good bit more song-driven and instrumentally varied than New Space, if that’s your thing.
As the album’s press release explains,
Earlier this semester we posted about New Space, a fantastic new indie-rock-meets-ambient recording by Duchampion alumnus and all-around genius emeritus Ben Seretan ’10, who skipped the Superbowl and hung out in his friend’s Greenpoint studio to record the five tracks. “The whole thing was recorded with nothing more than guitars, amps, and delay pedals,” I raved at the time, “which is especially a feat given how freaking full and textured it sounds, like a loving tribute to the sheer layers of sound the instrument can produce.” (Am I a fanboy or am I a fanboy?)
Today, Seretan sends word of a new video he completed for “What Would You Do If You Were Me?,” his whopping nine-minute opener. As you can see from the embed above, it’s green and hazy and fuzzy and blue in all the right places—a mostly perfect visual counterpart to Seretan’s textured, slow-burning guitar compositions. It’s an all around Wes party, too: the video was directed and produced by Angus McCullough ’10, with mad help from Sam Jones ’10 and Josh Koenig ’09. Check out their finished result here, or scroll on for a very brief explanatory interview with Seretan himself.
Robert Don ’15 writes in about an album he recently wrote and recorded with his band, Since 1902, from St. Louis. (Since 1902 is the band name.) (St. Louis is the geographic qualifier.) (It’s also the name of the best song on the album, which is downloadable for free.) (That’s Since 1902 above, performing at LouFest this past August.) (LouFest is an indie music festival in St. Louis, which Since 1902 performed at, with Das Racist among others, after winning a battle of the bands.)
The album’s called No Excuses Wednesdays, and it’s an unquestionably fantastic addition to the Wesleyan music scene, even if only one band member (Don) actually goes to Wesleyan. (The rest are high school friends from St. Louis.) (St. Louis is where this band is from.) “They’ve been described as irish pirate rockabilly, but still don’t know what that means,” says the Bandcamp. So I’ll try to translate: think Radiohead at its jazziest (so… “Knives Out,” cuz singer Robert Don is pulling some serious Yorkeisms at the end of “St. Louis”), or think ’70s fusion updated for the MGMT set, or think of Ishmael, because if Ishmael’s show last week taught us anything, it’s that lengthy, jammy interplay isn’t such a bad thing if you’ve got the chops. And Since 1902 has the chops. The album is professionally recorded, but the instrumental passages (syncopated jazz rhythms [“Lonely Bird”], folk guitar licks [“Caj 22”], and all [more gratuitous parenthetical additions]) are clearly the sound of a band playing together live.
The album costs $5 on Bandcamp, but you can hear the whole thing for free. Click past the jump for more linkage, MP3 embeds, and a very brief interview with Since 1902’s Robert Don ’15.
Wesleying should move faster than this, but hey, it’s the weekend, things (Amanda Palmer, Stop Making Sense, Amanda Palmer, “those crazy Italians,” Amanda Palmer) came up, some of us are busy sleeping on Wall Street. Whatcanyoudo? (You can join.)
So the Dodos came to Eclectic last week. That was fun. Argus pre-show coverage incorporates phrases like “sprightly, spindly folk” and “ticky-tock rim hits” and “thunderous tom-toms,” which essentially sums it up. No doubt the San Francisco duo brought its blend of percussion-happy indie-pop to a particularly enthusiastic Wednesday night crowd—and if you stayed the whole gig without collapsing from the heat, pat yourself on the back.
Philly-based retro-happy indie-poppers Dr. Dog played Beckham Hall Saturday night, headlining what was surely one of the semester’s most well-attended (and anticipated) concerts. (If nothing else, this is probably the most sold-out ACB ticket demand we’ve seen since Beach House.) I took a few photos. If you did too, feel free to send them to us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
My photos largely, if inadvertently, emulate the qualities of Dr. Dog’s music: colorful, endearing, and frustratingly homogeneous to an extent that’s maybe also a little bit colorful and endearing. Some of them are of Seattle-based opener The Head and The Heart. One of them is your obligatory shot of a Linus member crowd-surfing (because the words “Dr. Dog” and “crowd-surfing” totally belong in the same blog post). All of them are conveniently viewable on your desktop or laptop operating system after the jump.