Sun, May 7
Doors: 7:00 pm
Slowdive - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
After 22 years, Slowdive return with “Star Roving”, their first new material since 1995’s Pygmalion. Featuring Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Christian Savill (guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), Rachel Goswell (vocals) and Simon Scott (drums, electronics), “Star Roving” embodies the effortlessness for which Slowdive is known -- as the song progresses, it expands and contracts in ways that feel infinite.
Slowdive released their debut album, Just For A Day, in 1991 via Creation Records. The highly revered Souvlaki followed in 1993 and Pygmalion in 1995, and then the band disbanded. In the 22 years of their virtual disappearance, compilation albums have been released and the core members of the group have gone on to join other musical endeavors. In 2014, Slowdive announced that they had reunited and more new music would follow. Upon today’s release of new single, “Star Roving,” the band has also announced signing to Dead Oceans.
Halstead says, “When the band decided to get back together in 2014, we really wanted to make new music. It's taken us a whole load of shows and a few false starts to get to that point, but it's with pride and a certain trepidation we unleash ‘Star Roving.’ It’s part of a bunch of new tracks we've been working on and it feels as fun, and as relevant playing together now as it did when we first started. We hope folks enjoy it.”
Dead Oceans’s Phil Waldorf comments on the signing, "We are elated to work with Slowdive on their new album. I saw Slowdive for the first time, as a teenager, in 1991 at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. I remember it being a revelation - the way the band used texture and tone was something I’d never heard before, and it stuck with me for a long time. It was one of those gigs that was a gateway drug of sorts — not only was it amazing to see Slowdive, but it was the first taste of a whole sound that made me go exploring into all kinds of music. More than two decades later, their music sounds just as relevant and vital, and we cannot wait for old fans and new listeners to hear the band’s new recordings."
Japanese Breakfast - (Set time: 8:15 PM)
“The title Soft Sounds From Another Planet alludes to the promise of something that may or may not be there. Like a hope in something more. The songs are about human resilience and the strength it takes to claw out of the darkest of spaces.”
Michelle Zauner wrote the debut Japanese Breakfast album in the weeks after her mother died of cancer, thinking she would quit music entirely once it was done. That wasn’t the case. When Psychopomp was released to acclaim in 2016, she was forced to confront her grief. Zauner would find find herself reliving traumatic memories multiple times a day during interviews, trying to remain composed while discussing the most painful experience of her life. Her sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, is a transmutation of mourning, a reflection that turns back on the cosmos in search of healing.
“I want to be a woman of regimen,” Zauner sings over a burbling synth on the album’s opening track “Diving Woman.” This serves as Zauner’s mission statement: stick to the routine lest you get derailed, don’t cling to the past, don’t descend. In fact, ascend to the stars; Zauner found artistic solace removed from Earth, in outer space and science fiction. “I used the theme as a means to disassociate from trauma,” she explains. “Space used as a place of fantasy.”
And yet, Soft Sounds From Another Planet isn’t a concept album. Over the course of 12 tracks, Zauner explores an expansive thematic universe, a cohesive outpouring of unlike parts structured to create a galaxy of her own design. In the instrumental “Planetary Ambience,” synths communicate the way extraterrestrials might, and on the shapeshifting single “Machinist,” which Zauner has been performing live for over a year now, she details the sci-fi narrative of a woman falling in love with a machine. “It’s pure fiction,” she explains, “But it can map onto real relationships in a relevant way.” The track, which begins with spoken-word ambience, moves into autotune ‘80s pop bliss and ends with a sultry saxophone solo, perfectly marries the experience: there’s a perceptible humanity in mechanical, bodily events.
Within its astral production, much of Soft Sounds From Another Planet stays grounded. “Road Head” is the last chest compression in attempt to resuscitate a doomed relationship, while the penultimate track “This House” is an acoustic dirge that honors Zauner’s chosen family. The baroque pop “Boyish” has a haunting, crystalline clarity that recalls the pathos of a Roy Orbison ballad, while “Body is a Blade” embraces the dark intimacy of Zauner’s Pacific Northwest heroes Elliott Smith and Mount Eerie.
With help from co-producer Craig Hendrix (who also co-produced Little Big League’s debut) and Jorge Elbrecht, (Ariel Pink, Tamaryn) who mixed the album, Zauner recontextualizes her bedroom pop beginnings, expanding and maturing her sound. The sheer massiveness of the big room production on Soft Sounds From Another Planet introduces listeners to a new Japanese Breakfast. Zauner’s familiar, capacious voice will serve as their guide.
“Your body is a blade that moves while your brain is writhing,” she sings. “Knuckled under pain you mourn but your blood is flowing.” There’s discernible pain in the phrasing, Zauner recognizing limitation, a lack of control, but then subverting the feeling, creating her own musical language for confronting trauma. Where Psychopomp introduced the world to Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds dives deeper. It builds space where there is none, and suggests that in the face of tragedy, we find ways to keep on living.
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001