Neumos & KEXP Present



Saturday 6/10

8:00 pm


This event is all ages

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To hear Pickwick tell it, their popular Myths 7-inch series was merely a group of rough sketches they'd been developing over the previous two years put to wax. That a CD collection of those "demos" held their hometown Seattle's Sonic Boom Records #1 sales spot for a period of weeks in 2011 shows those six songs amounted to something more than tossed off basement recordings. With a successful year of festival invites and an ever larger string of hometown sell-outs behind them in 2012 the band refocused on recording and have a year later emerged with Can't Talk Medicine. Upgrading from the basement used for Myths and setting up shop in their living room, the band's own multi-instrumentalist Kory Kruckenberg served as engineer. The 13 finished tracks include three re-recorded and fully realized Myths cuts and a collaboration with Sharon Van Etten on lead single "Lady Luck."
"A cool thing about this record," says Kruckenberg, "this house has made its way onto the record. We've tried to include the quirks of living here." Guitarist Michael Parker wryly spins the situation differently saying "our record doesn't sound like a lot of other records because it was recorded in this living room." The choice of a carpeted location may have been a double-edged sword, but the use of this unconventional space was fully compatible with the band's own grittier leanings and desire to establish a unique musical aesthetic. By recording to 1/2 inch tape on an 8 track and incorporating found sounds, Kruckenberg was additionally using a canvas that provided for an intentionally different dynamic than a modern digital effort. Why tape? "It's about dirtiness," Kruckenberg explains referring to the distortion that the taping process itself can imbue on a recorded sound. He reports his final results with a grin, "It's raw."
An audiophile's full attention to every detail shows in the final mix: voices and instruments have the space to assert their full identity and tones shimmer in lengthy decay. The percussive clang of the piano hammers in lead track "Halls of Columbia" are incorporated instead of hidden away. The organ drone in "Window Sill" is elevated from dissonant psych clutter to an eerie foundational element. The harmonies of Parker, keyboardist Cassady Lillstrom, and guest Kaylee Cole are at turns sweet, unsettling and epiphanic. It's all orchestrated to support frontman Galen Disston's gospel growl and build on the mood of his words.
"There is a layer to our songs that I don't think very many people have picked up on," says Disston, who prefers listeners delve into their own imagination with his words over providing a literal history of every lyric. What he will relate is that Can't Talk Medicine mines themes of mental illness. "It's about art making you go crazy," he reveals. "We idolize and value that insanity when it's in the name of art." But as his lyrics also imagine it, life in creative overdrive can be nervous, desperate and grotesque. The refrain in "Window Sill" speaks of planning a defiant suicide and Myths crowd favorite "Hacienda Motel" recounts a risque homicide.
Many of the deeper answers about influences and a preference for mystery can be traced to the band's own voracious interest in music that's mired in obscurity. Reissues from Designer Records, the seminal output of the Black Ark. Robert Pete Williams, Alan Lomax, the Walkmen, The Sonics, and Abner Jay are among the diverse list of names referred to with reverence in the living room. 'Famous L. Renfroe as The Flying Sweet Angel of Joy' is a current well of inspiration for Disston who, like his idol Bob Dylan, has through his own deep exploration of American roots music developed a signature vocal delivery.
Pickwick's DIY history of making & distributing their own records continues into 2013 with the Spring self-release Can't Talk Medicine, initially available digitally via iTunes and on CD at your local CIMS-affiliated independent record shop. The Cold War Kids' Matt Maust is guilty of the album's cover design. The band travels to SXSW in March before embarking on a headlining tour of the continental U.S. in April.
It happens to all good musicians eventually. After spending most of his 20s working to establish himself in the indie music culture of his adoptive hometown of Seattle, Eric Anderson looked up to discover that he felt more dislocated than ever. Despite having earned a loyal following for his band Cataldo—whose three albums have burnished his reputation as a serious and distinctive songwriter—Anderson found that each step along the path of building a career and body of work, no matter how successful, had led to a larger restlessness. Drifting non-committally through preparations for the fourth Cataldo record, Anderson bounced some production ideas off his sound designer housemate, whose response proved both ridiculously simple and profoundly liberating. "That all sounds very sensible, Eric," his housemate said, "but what do you want to do?"

It's funny, but the question had never really occurred to him. And like all important questions, it spawned others. Soon Anderson was exploring his identity as a brainy-feelings writer and his growing fascination with radio pop music (as well as his deep contempt for the disconcerting trend of honky folk artists copping the least elemental but most demonstrative affect of being "soulful.") Finding no common cause with the currently fashionable gaggle of ebullient faux-folk acts with which Cataldo was invariably lumped, he felt increasingly stirred by a desire to shake off the writing, recording, and performance reflexes he had developed. Bored of his own sonic palette, he began imagining stark drum beats and sensual horn arrangements, but in the service of his voice, not of a character's. He continued writing songs that sought to reconcile his direct connection to the songwriting tradition of artists like the Mountain Goats, Bill Callahan/Smog, and Magnetic Fields with his unshakeable affinity for the melodic breadth of "Put it Down" by The Dream and the cross stick throughout D'Angelo's "Voodoo."

His roommate had asked him what he wanted to do, and Anderson had found an answer: "Whatever the fuck I want."

The result is Gilded Oldies, the most ambitious, assured, and accessible Cataldo album to date. Which isn't to say dumbed down. The record is full of unyielding introspection and coruscating insights into often dark and emotional subject matter. The process that led Anderson to his triumphant album—put simply: acknowledging the yawning gulf between the life you expected and the life you got—is reflected all through the songs. The news isn't always pretty: "all god's creatures have their bridge to burn/this is mine smoldering" from the title track. Sometimes it's plaintive: "what a cowardly thing/to know the notes but not sing," from "Black Lamb." Sometimes it's obscure: "Noli me tangere, motherfucker," from "The Beast." And sometimes it's just a heart-nicking dialogue between hope and despair: "But someday in a moment unacknowledged by the sprawl/ my heart will beat so hard that it can break the terra cotta shell the beast has made/ that keeps me lonesome and acting smart."

But however contemplative Anderson's lyric writing gets, the music is spry, the melodies delectable, the sounds organically irresistible. The contrast is a difficult trick to pull off, but it's also a sign of necessary and enchanting growth in a songwriter whose emphasis has, until now, rested unmistakably on "writer." Not that anyone is likely to mistake these songs for being taciturn—Anderson remains a committed verbalist. But the groove and feel of the arrangements frequently step up to take their rightful precedence, which of course affects the meaning of the words in surprising, even thrilling ways. As Anderson himself admits, with characteristic bashful optimism, "Gilded Oldies is the first Cataldo record you could occasionally, maybe, sort of dance to."

Venue Information:
925 E Pike St
Seattle, WA, 98122