"Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!"
Wayward Sounds Festival: Lower Dens w/ Gem Club
Monday, June 22 at 8:00pm (7:00pm doors)
$12 / $10 members
Wayward Traveler Ticket: $9 (Wayward Traveler ticket discounts will be offered to those who purchase tickets to more than one performance over the course of the festival.)
On Escape From Evil, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter emerges: cerebral and hot-blooded, rash and incorruptible, and, crucially, possessing of a loud, clear voice. The album sees Hunter stepping up and taking center stage, and emboldening every aspect of the band.
Escape From Evil is a cinematic, tonally rich work. The sounds are clean and warm. The pulse of the album is strong. Melodies are potent and songs are physical. Lyrics are direct, frank confrontations with life’s common crises. The album title is brazen, and along with the grimly funny title of lead single, “To Die in L.A.”, almost theatrical.
Lower Dens’ 2010 debut, Twin-Hand Movement, was a stunning evolution of guitar brilliance and murky emotiveness, while its 2012 follow-up, Nootropics, was a stark, textured paean to experimental bands of the krautrock era. Escape From Evil marks a bold, monumental step forward for the band and the welcome manifestation of a singer we’ve never quite seen until now.
There are times when beauty and sadness are inextricably linked. Massachusetts-based Gem Club understands this fragile symmetry. The band—singer/pianist Christopher Barnes and his collaborators, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian—create music that is intimate, graceful, and filled with melancholy.
In 2009, Gem Club’s primary songwriter Christopher Barnes began playing local solo shows. The enthusiastic reception led him to bring Drymala and Berberian into the fold, and the six-song Acid and Everything EP was self-released the following year. Breakers, their subsequent full-length, paired plaintive piano melodies with impressionistic lyrics. Made primarily in Barnes’s bedroom, the album displayed how music, even at its most minimal and hushed, could be cathartic, even transcendent.
For the new In Roses, Gem Club have ventured beyond the isolation of the bedroom to record in San Francisco at John Vanderslice’s analog studio Tiny Telephone. Barnes worked closely with arranger and conductor Minna Choi of The Magik*Magik Orchestra, who, Barnes says, “helped reshape the new songs in fresh and unimagined ways,” The resulting album is more expansive, more majestic, than prior Gem Club releases. There are spacious, grand flourishes—the church-choir voices on “Idea for Strings”; the reverberating drumbeats that propel the melody of “Braid”—yet the music retains the intimacy of previous works.