Music Hall of Williamsburg
A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers

Cymbals Eat Guitars, Hunters

Fri, July 27, 2012

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

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

This event is 18 and over

A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
A Place to Bury Strangers
Transfixiation (Dead Oceans, February 17th)

"There are moments where I'm really scared on stage," admits A Place to Bury Strangers bassist Dion Lunadon, "where it's really foggy and I know someone's swinging a guitar around. I don't give a fuck though; if a guitar is about to hit me in the head, oh well. It's going to make for a better show."
He should know. After joining the Brooklyn-based trio in 2010, it only took a few shows before Lunadon smashed his bass against his face. The freshly drawn blood trickled like rain off of a tin roof. But since the band often plays in the dark, he couldn't actually see what happened. He had to keep going, and hope for the best.
"That's the most intense fear and feeling—when you go to a show and you're actually scared," says frontman Oliver Ackermann, a co-founder of the soon-to-be-shuttered Death By Audio DIY space that's hosted its fair share of frantic, life-affirming shows.
"Or you can palpably feel the danger in the music," adds Lunadon, "like it's going to fall apart at any moment and the players doing it are so in the moment they don't give a shit about anything else. They're just going for it. It's a gutter kinda vibe; everything about it is icky and evil and dangerous."
The same could be said for A Place to Bury Strangers' fourth album, Transfixiation. Rather than fixate on precious recording techniques and minute details, the members of the group -- Ackermann, Lunadon, and hard-hitting drummer Robi Gonzalez -- trusted their instincts and tried to keep things as pure as possible. If that meant a mess of cross-contaminated microphones and mud-caked mistakes, so be it. Music is much more exhilarating when it's unpredictable, and from the tortured straight-to-tape transmission of "I Will Die" and molten funk melodies of "Straight" to the violent guitar spasms, cannon-like drums and not-so-idle threats of "Deeper," this is very much an unpredictable record. Gonzalez makes his recording debut with the band here and he’s helped push the band’s recorded sound closer to the intense level of its infamous live shows.
Considering how controlled the chaos feels at every turn—the mark of a band at the peak of their powers—it's hard to imagine that Transfixiation almost didn't happen. Having spent nearly two straight years on the road, the musicians figured they'd parlay that momentum into a new record as soon as they got settled back home. And while the self-produced sessions at Death By Audio led to some fantastic material, Ackermann hit a wall near the end of that initial month. He needed a long break.
"The way it was broken off was so intense," he says. "It got to be too much, where we—or at least I—almost had a meltdown or something. I felt like we had to stop, and I wasn't even sure if the album was going to get finished or if we were going to be friends again."
Two months passed by with little communication between the three members. Lunadon worked on other recordings, and Gonzalez retreated to a mountainous region in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Ackermann pieced together the set: fresh compositions, songs that had already been recorded in Brooklyn, and the fruit of an earlier recording session with Serena Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen in Norway. Thankfully, everything clicked. A Place to Bury Strangers became whole again, with a bond—onstage and off—that's arguably stronger than it's ever been.
"Things go wrong all the time," explains Lunadon, "so with anything that's thrown at us, we have to make the best of it and turn something into gold instead of falling apart."
"The one thing we have in common is this fire when we're playing," adds Gonzalez. "I don't know; it's real intense."
The well-oiled Lunadon-Gonzalez rhythm section has adapted to Ackermann's unique style of playing -- the pair has embraced the chain-linked effects (Ackermann has produced custom pedals for such major artists as Lou Reed, My Bloody Valentine, The Flaming Lips, and Nine Inch Nails) and minimized the drum fills.
"It's not rocket science," says Lunadon, "but rock 'n' roll shouldn't be. When you start to do bluesy scales or try to be too fancy, it doesn't work for us. You gotta keep it simple and seize the moment.”
Cymbals Eat Guitars
Cymbals Eat Guitars
“We wanted to make a more energetic record. I personally looked to artists like Springsteen, 70's Bowie, The Smiths, The Cure, Neil Young as inspiration for—not really for sound as much as for that dichotomy of bands who were entertainers still making, at times, weird dark music and writing songs that seem totally over-the-top by today's rock band standards,” says Cymbals Eat Guitars bassist Matthew Whipple of his band’s wildly ambitious fourth LP, Pretty Years.
The band, composed of singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino, bassist Whipple, keyboardist Brian Hamilton, and drummer Andy Dole, have indeed crafted what’s easily their most sonically enigmatic and most rewarding album to date. Their trademark cacophonic guitar rock and innate propulsion are still abundant, but they’re buttressed by raucous synth and keyboard lines, and an extemporaneous saxophone performance, which enrich when they could easily clutter these songs. The band also worked more quickly and efficiently than they had in the past, facilitated by years on the road in which they’ve played close to a thousand shows, which rendered them a tight, fully-oiled machine in the studio.

D’Agostino emphasizes that the band always goes into the studio with an edict of crafting an album that replicates their live sound, but haven’t had that come into full fruition until now. “With this record...I think we nailed it this time. First or second takes of everything, real hunger in the performances. Just something to prove.” He stresses that he’d be happy with the band’s chaotic yet tight performances on songs, yet would expect producer John Congleton to ask him to do multiple run throughs. To his surprise, Congleton would say pithily, in D’Agostino’s words, “ok, what’s next?,” obviously satisfied with the results. Remarkably, the band tracked the album in four days.

This looseness is apparent from the outset, on the epic grandeur of opener “Finally,” which shimmers with complex beauty, leading into the sweet rush of “Have a Heart,” which finds D’Agostino singing, “I’m so out of sync / And you’re out of sync with me,” which could well be a mantra for the visceral appeal of this superb record.

The entire album is rife with electrified, flashbulb moments—“4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” conveys the madness of life on the road, exhibiting D’Agostino’s uncanny ability to transform minutiae into profundity. This skill is evident in spades on the record’s centerpiece and opus, the disarmingly vulnerable “Dancing Days.” The song also exhibits the contributions of Whipple, and slyly invokes the album’s title in its magisterial chorus, as D’Agostino contritely croons, “Goodbye to my pretty years.”

“In a dark moment on tour for LOSE, I said something to Matt about losing my pretty years quickly because of touring, how the lifestyle ages you,” explains D’Agostino. “Months later when we were writing for the record, he came to me with the lyrics for that chorus and I wrote the song around them.”

D’Agostino gets to the crux of his emotions on the album’s closer, “Shrine,” in which he veers from the ghosts chasing him into fever dream territory, seemingly coming to terms with demons past. The instrumentation itself is a gorgeous storm-cloud of guitars, building glacially to a cathartic denouement, as D’agostino sings with mounting emotion, “Where will it all go when I die / Never know while I’m alive.” Circumspect about discussing his lyrics’ meanings, D’Agostino laughs when the dark nature of the song’s broached, “This is a record that has many moods!”

And indeed, Pretty Years is a roller coaster ride, both lyrically and sonically, that encompasses what it’s like to be alive and in the moment. But ultimately, this is an album that keenly captures the magic and loss attendant to living life wide-eyed, and hints that these “pretty years” may portend even prettier ones to come.
Hunters
Hunters
Equal parts Motorhead, Sonic Youth and maybe the early Misfits, Hunters boast an aggressive, raw style of punk. Since February, they've been rising through the ranks, thanks to a 2-song offering mixed by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/