Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

Charly Bliss

Tue, December 15, 2015

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

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$35

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

Sleater-Kinney
Sleater-Kinney
"We sound possessed on these songs," says guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein about Sleater-Kinney's eighth studio album, No Cities To Love. "Willing it all--the entire weight of the band and what it means to us--back into existence."

The new record is the first in 10 years from the acclaimed trio--Brownstein, vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker, and drummer Janet Weiss--who came crashing out of the '90s Pacific Northwest riot grrrl scene, setting a new bar for punk's political insight and emotional impact. Formed in Olympia, WA in 1994, Sleater-Kinney were hailed as "America's best rock band" by Greil Marcus in Time Magazine, and put out seven searing albums in 10 years before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006.

But the new album isn't about reminiscing, it's about reinvention--the ignition of an unparalleled chemistry to create new sounds and tell new stories. "I always considered Corin and Carrie to be musical soulmates in the tradition of the greats," says Weiss, whose drums fuel the fire of Tucker and Brownstein's vocal and guitar interplay. "Something about taking a break brought them closer, desperate to reach together again for their true expression." The result is a record that grapples with love, power and redemption without restraint. "The three of us want the same thing," says Weiss. "We want the songs to be daunting."

Produced by long-time Sleater-Kinney collaborator John Goodmanson, who helmed many of the band's earlier albums including 1997 breakout set Dig Me Out, No Cities To Love is indeed formidable from the first beat. Lead track "Price Tag" is a pounding anthem about greed and the human cost of capitalism, establishing both the album's melodic drive and its themes of power and powerlessness--giving voice, as Tucker says, to those who "struggle to be heard against the dominant culture or status quo."

"Bury Our Friends" has Tucker and Brownstein joining vocal forces, locking arms to defeat a pressing fear of insignificance. It's also emblematic of the band's give and take, and commitment to working and reworking each song until it's as strong as it can be. "'Bury Our Friends' was written in the 11th hour," says Tucker. "Carrie had her great chime-y guitar riff, but we had gone around in circles with how to make that part into a cohesive song. I think Carrie finally cracked the chorus idea and yelled, 'Sing with me!'" "A New Wave" similarly went through many iterations during the writing process, with five or six potential choruses, before crystallizing. It enters with an insistent guitar riff, and a battle between acceptance and defiance--"Every day I throw a little party," howls Brownstein, "but a fit would be more fitting."

The album's meditative title track was inspired by the trend of atomic tourism and its function as a metaphor for someone enthralled and impressed by power. "That form of power, that presence, is not only destructive it's also hollowed-out, past its prime," says Brownstein. "The character in that song has made a ritual out of seeking structures and people in which to find strength, yet they keep coming up empty."

Sleater-Kinney's decade apart made room for family and other fruitful collaborations, as well as an understanding of what the band's singular chemistry demands. "Creativity is about where you want your blood to flow, because in order to do something meaningful and powerful there has to be life inside of it," says Brownstein. "Sleater-Kinney isn't something you can do half-assed or half-heartedly. We have to really want it. This band requires a certain desperation, a direness. We have to be willing to push because the entity that is this band will push right back."

"The core of this record is our relationship to each other, to the music, and how all of us still felt strongly enough to about those to sweat it out in the basement and to try and reinvent our band," adds Tucker. With No Cities To Love," we went for the jugular."

--Evie Nagy
Charly Bliss
Charly Bliss
If it's true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Bliss-an NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue cover-can pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom, a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui.

Though Charly Bliss has been a band for over half a decade, the path that led to their first full-length record, Guppy, has been anything but straightforward. As the story goes, the band officially started when frontwoman Eva Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox, both just 15, crossed paths at a Tokyo Police Club show in New York City, but the ties within the band go much deeper than that. "It's kind of insane and hilarious," says Eva, "Sam is my older brother, so obviously we've known each other our whole lives, but all of us have been connected to each other since we were little kids. Dan Shure and I dated when we were in our early teens and he and Spencer went to summer camp together. Dan and I broke up years ago, but eventually he'd become our bass player. The reason we all get along so well has to do with the fact we share this ridiculous history. We are all deeply embedded in each other's lives."

After spending years playing shows in and around New York City, the band eventually released an EP (2014's Soft Serve) and scored opening gigs for the likes of Glass Animals, Darwin Deez, Tokyo Police Club, Sleater-Kinney, as well as a touring spot for their own musical forebears, Veruca Salt. Even though the band had amassed a sizable fanbase and a reputation as a truly formidable live act, the goal of making a full-length record proved to be a fraught series of false-starts. Given their propensity for making hooky, ebullient pop songs, the band often felt out of step with what was happening around them in Brooklyn. ("We weren't weird in the right ways," says Sam). They eventually set about recording an album on their own-and then recording it twice-before figuring out what had been staring them in the face the entire time. "We basically had to come to terms with the fact that we are, at heart, a pop band," recalls Spencer. "Before, it was always trying to decide which of the songs would be more 'rock' and which would be more poppy, but we eventually realized we needed to meet in the middle, we had to create an ecosystem where our loud, messy rock sounds could co-exist with these super catchy melodies and pop hooks. It was really about realizing what we're best at as a band."

The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss' sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengths-a combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and earworm melodies is a testament to the band's commitment to the art form of pop songwriting. Opening track "Percolator" sets the tone-all power riffs and yo-yo-ing melodies playing against Hendricks' acrobatic vocals, which veer from gentle coo to an emphatic squeal:

I'm gonna die in the getaway car! I would try but it sounds too hard!

It's a vibe that carries throughout Guppy, a record that shares an undeniable kinship with 90's alt-rockers like Letters to Cleo and That Dog-bands that balanced melodicism, sugary vocals, and overdriven guitar turned up to 11. It's an aesthetic that Charly Bliss both embraces and improves upon in tracks like "Ruby" ("We actually wrote the guitar solo by sitting in a circle and passing the guitar around, each of us adding our own notes," says Fox) and "Glitter", the record's first single. "I wanted to make a song about being romantically involved with someone who makes you kind of hate yourself because they are so much like you," says Hendricks, "A fun song about complicated self-loathing that you could also dance around your bedroom to-that kind of sums us up as a band, actually."

"Pop music can actually be very subversive," she continues. "The lyrics that I'm most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feeling-feeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. It's possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline."

Guppy is a record that doesn't so much seek to reinvent the pop wheel so much as gleefully refine it. "People forget sometimes that expressing joy is just as important as examining despair," says Shure. "People need joy, especially right now. We're all about writing tight pop songs, but also giving people this super enthusiastic release. These songs are kind of the sound of expressing something that you can't really contain. These are songs you play really loudly when you need to freak out."
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/