Music Hall of Williamsburg
The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart

Rose Windows, PAPA, Rathborne

Thu, October 17, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$30 advance / $30 day of show

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Part of CMJ Music Marathon

The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart
It wasn't that long ago that the members of Seattle's The Head and the Heart were busking on street corners, strumming their acoustic guitars, stomping their feet and singing in harmony as they attempted to attract the attention of passersby. That unbridled energy informed their earliest original material, which was honed in local clubs before eventually being captured on the band's 2011 debut album for hometown label Sub Pop.

Then, something unexpected happened. That music began to reach audiences all over the United States and the rest of the world, and The Head and the Heart went from playing open mic nights to selling out headlining shows in prestigious venues. The album became one of Sub Pop's best-selling debut releases in years. And slowly but surely, ideas began to form for the band's second album, imbued with the experiences of traveling the world and cultivating a listenership with a deep connection to the music.

"There is a certain level of confidence gained from having such an amazing fan base," says group member Jonathan Russell. "You start to trust yourself more. When we were busking, we were filling so much space to keep the listener from walking away. Now we are in a very different situation." Adds group member Josiah Johnson, "We wanted to write songs that felt bigger, and didn't need to be so frantic. I think for the most part we wanted to record an album that sounds like the way we play now."

Indeed, The Head and the Heart's new release, Let's Be Still, is a snapshot of a band that didn't exist just four short years ago. Virginia native Russell and California transplant Johnson formed the core songwriting partnership, which was rounded out by drummer Tyler Williams, keyboardist Kenny Hensley, vocalist/violinist Charity Rose Thielen and bassist Chris Zasche, who'd met Russell and Johnson while tending bar at an open mic they frequented. The nascent group dove headfirst into writing, recording and performing, and even moved into the same house to ensure that inspiration could strike at any moment.

"The first record was very thematic. It just had to do with all of us being together and writing songs, and leaving home to come to Seattle," says Thielen. "I honestly don't know if there is a theme this time around. There are things that stick out, like the idea of going from busking to becoming a full-on band and touring like crazy." Adds Williams, "Before we started recording, I wondered, 'What if this doesn't work? What if the momentum dies down?' But once we got in there, we realized that we felt so good together doing it. The weight was lifted. It was like, 'Right! This is what we do.'"

Let's Be Still was recorded at Seattle's Studio Litho with assistance from prior production collaborator Shawn Simmons. Later, the band traversed the country to mix the album in Bridgeport, Conn., with Peter Katis, revered for his work with bands such as the National, Interpol and the Swell Season. The 13 tracks here build naturally on both the sounds and themes of the debut, from the piano and violin-dappled opener "Homecoming Heroes" and the heartfelt "Josh McBride" to vibrant, bouncy future concert staples "Shake" and "My Friends."

"The first record was written and recorded with a lot of limitations. It's almost easier that way," says Zasche. "This time around, with more time and resources, there were few limitations, so we had to be in charge of keeping a focus and not getting distracted but at the same time exploring the options available. It wasn't easy, but from this I think a clearer, more focused record has been made."

Band members point to "Another Story" as a moment that embodies their collective creative spirit. Russell wrote the song shortly after the elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn., but hadn't showed it to anyone in the band except Johnson. "One day everyone was taking a break from tracking and I was sitting in my booth and started to play this song," Russell recalls. "You could hear what I was doing in the control room and then one by one, a bandmate would walk in, grab their instrument and start playing along. We didn't talk about it. We didn't have to go back and rearrange anything. It was all there." Adds Williams, "Jon is so smart about waiting to introduce new ideas. He knows when the mood will be right." Says Johnson, "The song was undeniable, and the vibe didn't change from when he was playing it acoustically. Everybody just lifted it up, in the way that this band does."

On the opposite end of the spectrum was "Gone," which dated back to sessions for the debut album but didn't make the cut the first time around. The band wrestled with the arrangement while performing it live for several years, and finally cracked the code after adding a laid-back bass-and-drum groove to the beginning. Described by Thielen as "striking" in its solo acoustic form, Johnson's "Fire / Fear" underwent similar revisions until the rest of the band settled on a new progression to link the verses together. "There is a lot more patience in the music," says Russell. "I think that has a lot to do with feeling more comfortable as a songwriter and a performer."

During the mixing process, Katis was tasked with polishing what Johnson describes as "a beautiful mess" of finished tracks. Says Williams, "We have a certain energy when we play shows that didn't translate to the first record. I was getting worried about that before we went to Peter's. Things seemed a bit muted and dry to me. But I didn't realize how much mixing could change a record. Peter actually went in and messed with tones, had some production suggestions and wound up really being the right guy to help us finish the record." "His mixes turned the songs around, and breathed vibrancy into them," says Thielen. "He added some auxiliary details that helped make things more full-bodied, but still within the realm of what we do. It was really refreshing."

With Let's Be Still ready for release, The Head and the Heart is eager to return to the road to further hone the musical bond its members formed in such whirlwind fashion. "When I think about the two records together, the first one feels like we all wanted to fulfill this dream we'd had about playing music, meeting people and traveling around," says Williams. "This one feels like the consequences of doing that -- what relationships did you ruin? What other things did you miss? You always think it will all be perfect once you just do 'this.' And that's not always the case."

Adds Russell, "Has there been an impact on our lives since we have become full-time musicians? Sure. No band wants to write that second record about how hard they have it. But it's hard to get around all of it. There are a few songs on this record that express the band's hardships for sure. On one hand, it's everything you have ever wanted. On the other hand, you start to miss the things you've lost and had to give up. And that's just life. My job is to write about it."
Rose Windows
Rose Windows
The notion that there is nothing new under the sun can be both a blessing and a curse to musicians. On the one hand, it absolves artists from any nagging sense that they have to reinvent the wheel with every new project. On the other, it makes innovation seem like a fool’s errand. Seattle songwriter Chris Cheveyo embraces this blessing, but with his compatriots in Rose Windows, he also defies the curse. The band follows standard Western traditions in their instrumentation, using the basic tools employed in past decades of American and British rock music. Elements of The Band’s folk-infused rock, The Doors organ-driven psychedelia, and Black Sabbath’s blues-based dirges can be heard in Rose Window’s debut album The Sun Dogs. But the septet’s curiosity goes much further than a few well-chosen classic rock records. The band devoured Persian, Indian, and Eastern European music, studying the beautiful and strange paths taken by visionaries and renegades in other corners of the globe, and incorporated the revelations learned in the process into their sound. In doing so, The Sun Dogs challenges the assumption that all creative territories have been mapped out and charted. While Rose Windows aren’t interested in making music of the future, one reviewer was wise enough to note “a sound like this would not be possible in any other time.”

The genesis of Rose Windows started Fall 2010 in a house in Seattle’s Central District, where Cheveyo found himself tiring of the limited palette of his prior heavy post-rock project. Though interested in new sonic possibilities, he was turned off by experimental music’s lazy reliance on “knob-turning.” His explorations became less about possibilities associated with new technology and more about studying various avenues of the past. The project began with a few rough demos done alone at home and slowly began to take shape as the band amassed members. Bandmates were mainly musician friends who wandered through the house. Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s enchanting and exotic voice was the first component added to the fray. Roommate David Davila was asked to play piano and organ. Former bandmates Nils Petersen and Pat Schowe were enlisted for electric guitar and drums. Frequent houseguests Richie Rekow and Veronica Dye were brought on board for bass and flute. Rose Windows began playing out, fluidly sharing the stage with underground art-metal bands one night and popular indie Americana acts the next.

Label-less at the time, Rose Windows began making plans for recording The Sun Dogs in November of 2011. The band sought out local producer Randall Dunn based on his past success in harnessing the electric power of SunnO))) and Boris, the bleak twang of Earth, and the shamanistic acid-trips of Master Musicians of Bukkake. Dunn’s penchant for musical anthropology proved the perfect match for the band, with their mutual curiosity and artistic ambition broadening the scope of the album. Other local musicians were brought on board to add harp, pedal steel, viola, and cello. Dynamics were expanded. Boundaries were pushed.

Musically, The Sun Dogs is an album based on the idea of sifting through the past, extracting bits and pieces, and re-imagining these into new forms. It’s about observing and building upon musical traditions. Thematically, Cheveyo describes The Sun Dogs as being about “the everyday blues that capitalism and its hit man, religion, bring on all of us.” More specifically, he sees The Sun Dogs as an acknowledgment of the circular nature of the rat race, learning to accept the evil in the world, taking joy wherever we can, and ultimately disavowing traditions of exploitation and violence. That search for finding light in the dark is perfectly captured in the album opener “The Sun Dogs I: Spirit Modules,” as the ominous verses uncoil into beautifully lush string arrangements and vocal harmonies. “Native Dreams” displays the band’s affinity for both exotic melodies and bold distorted guitar riffs, all while Qazi describes the encroachment of one culture upon another by singing of “spirit warriors” surrounding a sleeping camp. “Walkin’ With a Woman” conjures the old blues tale of encountering the devil at the crossroads while culling motifs from classic psych and prog records. Songs like “Heavenly Days” and “Season of Serpents” offer a counterpoint to the foreboding moments on The Sun Dogs, with folk-steeped guitars, gentle pedal steel, and graceful choruses painting a picture of those moments of joy and grace in the midst of the world’s evil. These moments of respite make the foreign melodies, menacing mysticism, and blown-out riffs on songs like “This Shroud” all the more disquieting. But ultimately “The Sun Dogs II: Coda” ends the album with a ray of light, with the alternating major and minor chords on acoustic guitar, lilting piano lines, “Kashmir”-esque strings, and full-band vocal harmonies burning off the gloom.

Rose Windows have already toured the West Coast several times, and with the release of The Sun Dogs, the band plans much more. In the meantime, they continue their search—delving into archives of long-lost albums, learning more about their craft from renowned local musicians, and charting their own path in an ancient art.

Rose Windows is:
Chris Cheveyo – lead guitar/composer
Rabia Shaheen Qazi – lead vocalist
Richie Rekow – bass/ 1st male vocalist
Nils Petersen – rhythm guitar/2nd male vocalist
Pat Schowe – drums
David Davila – piano/organ
Veronica Dye – flute

The Sun Dogs was engineered and produced by Randall Dunn at Avast!, March-May 2012, and mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service.
PAPA
PAPA
"Everyone becomes sea urchins and rats at night," says PAPA's Darren Weiss, laughing slyly. "It's the nature of being young."

Like with an inside joke you know, you smirk along, succumbing to a moment of reverie. The suggestion of crawling so close to the dirt floods in bastard memories. And so, when the versatile drummer, singer and principle songwriter next puts his band's musical efforts in simple terms such as, setting out to make "American soul music with a punk-rock mentality" on its forthcoming EP, A Good Woman is Hard to Find, you nod along, like, yeah that sounds about right.

There's a poetic purity that runs through the songs, suggesting devious truths and well told lies, rolling along with a natural swagger that thoughtlessly evokes hard-hitting shakes and slow-swinging shimmies. Weiss' earnest vibrato often takes on a Springsteen-like growl in its best moments, crooning reminiscences on "I Am The Lion King," "I got to make a you a woman. You got to make me a man." In each song's groove there's a dangerous sexiness to PAPA-the furious grip of the dance floor, the cold pavement outside, and the way you kiss when you're not sure you'll ever see the person again or whether you'd even want to.

A Good Woman is Hard to Find is an album as ripe for romance as it is partying. It has moments of aggression and simple bliss, with a classic sense of harmony, melody and style. It's a modern, rough-and-tumble take on classic soul, without a doubt. With the help of Weiss' musical partner, friend-since-childhood, bassist Danny Presant, the tracks gain a hip-hop sensibility that separates PAPA from simple revivalists and instead into timeless territory. It's an exacting and revelatory ode to what's wrong with modern romance but what won't stop one from giving it another go. Meanwhile, the cover art shows a waifish, made-up girl, smoking a cigarette, smiling with a come-hither wink that suggests a good time but history argues otherwise. Here we go again. It's an instant testament to our hero's exhausting trials in love and those superficial layers that brutally slice through once promising, meaningful connections.

Weiss and Presant grew up in Los Angeles and have always had a home in California. Weiss is also a passionate painter and writer of prose.

PAPA's A Good Woman is Hard to Find will be released October 4th on Hit City U.S.A. and Psychedelic Judaism.
Rathborne
Rathborne
Anyone looking for an all-encompassing statement-of-purpose for SOFT, the hyper-caffeinated new record from Rathborne will find it in the first line of the second song when Luke Rathborne – chief songwriter and principle persona – hiccups, "Heard you gotta get it in motion." From that moment on, SOFT never stops moving bounding from one jagged-edged neo-New Wave song to the
next, marrying the fast-and-loose ethos of The Ramones with the coiled neurosis of early Devo and the melodic ease of classic R.E.M. and Tom Petty. "The feeling of the record is incredible energy," says Rathborne. "Youthfulness, lust -- the feeling of breaking out of yourself, unchaining yourself, forcing yourself to be
free." That same spirit of optimism and restlessness also characterizes Rathborne's career to date. He learned how to play guitar at age 12, when a stranger who was passing through the small town in Northern Maine where Rathborne lived left
the instrument at his house ("There was a lot of freewheelin' types passing through my house when we were kids," he chuckles). Inspired by the DIY spirit of punk rock, he recorded his first album, After Dark, when he was just 16 years old, sneaking into the recording studio of his local college late at night and teaching
himself how to use the equipment. "I guess ambition when you're young is really unusual," Rathborne says, "But I just couldn't really find a place in high school." Rathborne relocated to New York when he was just 18, where he connected with famed Tin Pan Alley producer Joey Levine. From there, Rathborne began
steadily honing his skills, booking himself a weeklong UK tour, netting a slot opening for The Strokes at South By Southwest and recording the EP I Can Be One/Dog Years, which earned him an appearance on the BBC''s 6 Music. "In the course of making those records," he says, "I've gone from being a 16-year-old kid to being an adult." That maturity is evident throughout SOFT, a story of heartbreak and redemption that told in spit-shined Buddy Holly vocal melodies. Produced by Rathborne and Emery Dobyns (Antony & the Johnsons, Battles, Noah & the Whale), with mixing
and co-production by Gus Oberg and The Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr., the record nestles honey-sweet hooks inside tangles of guitar and Darren Will's percolating bass. "Some of the punk bands I had been in as a teenager sounded like this, "Rathborne says, "So it's a 'return to punk' for me in some ways."
That comes through in songs like "Wanna Be You," where Rathborne sighs and pines over a whistling synth line and a taut cluster of guitar that recalls vintage Nick Lowe. "That's really a song about identity," Rathborne explains. "It's about figuring out why people love each other, why they want to be each other, and
when that crosses the line." "Last Forgiven," which Rathborne says is about "redemption and yearning," cruises and dips like a roller coaster going halfspeed. Despair and hope commingle in "So Long NYC," a speed-racing, Guided By Voices-style power-pop number in which Rathborne flips the mythologizing
associated with New York on its head. "It's like the antithesis of a Frank Sinatra song," he says. "There was a point for about a year where I was crashing between peoples' apartments, walking around feeling hungry. I would work in a bar near Union Square and then walk around the streets after it was dark. Wandering
through New York City late at night when everyone else was asleep, It made me feel like I had stumbled onto something secret." That contradictory impulse – romanticism and cynicism, energy and exhaustion, is what powers SOFT, and what dusts its cotton candy melodies with a fine layer of grit. "As you get older, the feeling of being drawn between love and cynicism
grows exponentially – almost like someone in medieval times being stretched out on a rack," Rathborne says. "Art is about making a connection between those things." That's what Rathborne does throughout SOFT, and the results are as
infectious as they are complex. "There's something hidden in there for everyone," Rathborne explains. "We're all reaching for something, and art helps people deal with those things. I hope people realize the album is about something deeper than what's on the surface. It's a record about hope and redemption and
energy and possibility. And hopefully, it can be a record about people's lives."
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/