Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sondre Lerche

Sondre Lerche

Will Sheff, Bird Of Youth

Fri, December 2, 2011

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

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$20 advance / $20 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Sondre Lerche
Sondre Lerche
An artist’s capability to transform suffering into great work is one of humanity’s great phenomena. When considering the “divorce” subcategory of suffering and the “music” subcategory of art, the manifestation has traditionally tended toward the dirge (e.g. Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks,” Mitchell’s “Blue). Please, Sondre Lerche’s stunning new album, however, is a different animal: despite aligning with a recent divorce from his wife of eight years, it is brimming with crisp electronic flourishes, bold, economic production, and an infectious new energy and sense of purpose.

The juxtaposition of romantic idealism and the chaotic struggle to live up to said ideals is meticulously explored: for the first time in his career, Lerche is presented unraveled. The moans and wails are unedited, and the cutting room floor is clean. The first evidence of this (on opener and first single “Bad Law”) is Lerche’s witty self-awareness as his voice cracks while singing “it all sounds unlikely...”.

Lerche has always written about love, but never in such a primal, sexual way. Lerche's well-proven melodic instincts are sharper than ever, but he's moved from the brain to the body, from the soulful to the physical.

A recurring theme is control--or lack thereof--often symbolized by hands. “Held on to you / almost held my own,” (Lucky Guy). “I’m not holding on to innocence,” (After The Exorcism). “You were under my thumb,” (Logging Off). “My defense scrawled on my hand,” (Bad Law). “Cut off my hand as I reached for the fire,” (Crickets). We are watching Lerche deal with the loss of control that results from embracing total honesty and self-exposure.

“Bad Law” establishes Lerche’s vocal vulnerability and struggle with control, but also establishes another theme that runs throughout the record: the darkness that rises when love and law collide, building to the musing, “When crimes are passionate, can love be separate?” Later, in “At Times We Live Alone,” Lerche revisits this theme with the clever double entendre of “commit”: both committing a crime and committing to a relationship.

A perennially optimistic and love-laden writer, Lerche takes a much different route on standouts such as the heartbreaking “Sentimentalist”: “Tying the knot…Dying to not rot…I’m no sentimentalist,” a rumination that recalls Kurt Cobain’s “married…buried.”

Lerche doesn’t just transform his suffering into art on Please--which was recorded between his hometown of Bergen and Brooklyn, his home-of-nine-years--he shows us how he’s doing it. Trying to see things from every possible angle, he sings “say it to yourself in a different voice” (“Crickets”). The multi-layered vocal arrangement sounds as if we’re simultaneously hearing several different Sondres arriving at the same dead end. This search for understanding continues in “At Times We Live Alone”. It’s unclear as to whether he’s addressing himself or his subject when he repeats the mantra-like, “Try ‘I love you’, try ‘get angry,’ try ‘go fuck off’, call a friend.’“ These short-lived solutions are futile and in vain. The struggles themselves become the songs.

Lerche has been incredibly busy since the release of his 2011 self-titled LP and his 2012 live album, Bootlegs. Aside from touring internationally and releasing his 2013 Scott Walker-cover “The Plague” and “Public Hi-Fi Sessions”, a collaboration with Spoon's Jim Eno, Lerche spent 2013 creating the celebrated score for his then-wife’s (Mona Fastvold) directorial debut and Sundance hit “The Sleepwalker”.

At once both Lerche's catchiest and most emotionally intricate offering, Please is an altogether different kind of divorce-record, a masterful work unlike anything he has crafted before.
Will Sheff
Will Sheff
Will Sheff is the frontman for the Austin, Texas-based indie band Okkervil River (1998–present). Originally from New Hampshire, he is also a founding member and co-songwriter (along with former Okkervil bandmate Jonathan Meiburg) for Shearwater (2001–present), another Austin band. Sheff writes and performs many songs as a solo artist whilst juggling his commitments to Okkervil River and Shearwater, but has released no music as a solo artist. As well as writing and singing songs, he plays the guitar, the piano, the banjo, and the harmonica.
Bird Of Youth
Bird Of Youth
Beth Wawerna's involvement with rock music started a couple minutes after she was born, when her 14-year-old brother stubbornly insisted she be named for the 1976 KISS power ballad "Beth." Her parents consented – thus unwittingly sealing their daughter's fate.

Beth now fronts her own rock band, Bird of Youth, whose debut album "Defender" (out May 24) was produced by Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Phil Palazzolo (The New Pornographers, Ted Leo, Neko Case), with a cast of players that includes members of The Wrens, Nada Surf, The National, Okkervil River and The Mendoza Line.

Growing up in Atlanta, GA, Beth spent her formative years sifting through her brother's abandoned record collection. She became taken with artists like Elvis Costello and The Replacements, whose rowdy intellect fit in nicely with the Southern indie-rock she'd already been exposed to – bands like R.E.M., Pylon and The Rock*A*Teens. When it came time to leave the South, Beth got a job, moved to Brooklyn, got laid off, went to bars and stayed up late with her musician friends – drinking beer and singing songs. But she was also writing songs of her own – songs that felt both brainy and tough, thoughtful and tossed-off, vicious and vulnerable. For so long, Beth had been the consummate green-room insider, but dubious creative outsider – comfortable hanging backstage, but terrified of being on it. For that reason, she wrote for years before sharing so much as a note. But she kept writing, and the number of songs grew. Then finally, a few years down the road – armed with a collection of home-recorded demos – she mustered the courage to send them to friends, and they encouraged her to make an album.

"Defender" recalls the classic and college rock Beth grew up with, as well as the swagger of old New York girl groups and the insight and sarcasm the early new wave songwriters. Inherent in Beth’s voice is a cool stoicism – a dry, knowing wink that is as affecting in Defender’s moments of dark humor and ornate storytelling as it is in its flashes of unvarnished heartbreak. Beth's dry delivery finds a perfect match in lead guitarist Clinton Newman, whose lush, multilayered harmonies and intertwining guitar parts give this record its distinctive sound – something like Chrissie Hynde fronting Squeeze or Nico signed to Stiff Records. As intricate pop songcraft crumbles into gauzy atmospherics and literate observations devolve into boozy chaos, Bird of Youth’s rave-ups and kiss-offs turn indie-rock braininess back on itself with a casual frivolity.

Over the past few years, Beth has put that wonderfully unstable marriage to the test on stage, appearing with The Wrens, The Mendoza Line, Okkervil River, Roky Erickson and others. With the band's permanent touring lineup rounded out by bassist Johnny North, drummer Ray Ketchem and keyboardist Eli Thomas, Bird of Youth plan to spend the summer months of 2011 bringing "Defender" direct to the fans.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/