Thu, September 15
Doors: 7:00 pm9:30 Club
Angel Olsen - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
Anyone reckless enough to have typecast Angel Olsen according to 2013's Burn Your Fire For No Witness is in for a sizeable surprise with her third album, MY WOMAN. The crunchier, blown-out production of the former is gone, but that fire is now burning wilder. Her disarming, timeless voice is even more front-and-centre than before, and the overall production is lighter. Yet the strange, raw power and slowly unspooling incantations of her previous efforts remain, so anyone who might attempt to pigeonhole Olsen as either an elliptical outsider or a pop personality is going to be wrong whichever way they choose - Olsen continues to reign over the land between the two with a haunting obliqueness and sophisticated grace.
Given its title, and track names like 'Sister' and 'Woman', it would be easy to read a gender-specific message into MY WOMAN, but Olsen has never played her lyrical content straight. She explains: "I'm definitely using scenes that I've replayed in my head, in the same way that I might write a script and manipulate a memory to get it to fit. But I think it's important that people can interpret things the way that they want to."
That said, Olsen concedes that if she could locate any theme, whether in the funny, synth-laden 'Intern' or the sadder songs which are collected on the record's latter half, "then it's maybe the complicated mess of being a woman and wanting to stand up for yourself, while also knowing that there are things you are expected to ignore, almost, for the sake of loving a man. I'm not trying to make a feminist statement with every single record, just because I'm a woman. But I do feel like there are some themes that relate to that, without it being the complete picture."
Over her two previous albums, she's given us reverb-shrouded poetic swoons, shadowy folk, grunge-pop band workouts and haunting, finger-picked epics. MY WOMAN is an exhilarating complement to her past work, and one for which Olsen recalibrated her writing/recording approach and methods to enter a new music-making phase. She wrote some songs on the piano she'd bought at the end of the previous album tour, but she later switched it out for synth and/or Mellotron on a few of them, such as the aforementioned 'Intern'.
MY WOMAN is put together as a proper A-side and a B-side, featuring the punchier, more pop/rock-oriented songs up front, and the longer, more reflective tracks towards the end. The rollicking 'Shut Up Kiss Me', for example, appears early on - its nervy grunge quality belying a subtle desperation, as befits any song about the exhaustion point of an impassioned argument. Another crowning moment comes in the form of the melancholic and Velvets-esque 'Heart-shaped Face', while the compelling 'Sister' and 'Woman' are the only songs not sung live. They also both run well over the seven-minute mark: the first being a triumph of reverb-splashed, '70s country rock, cast along Fleetwood Mac lines with a Neil Young caged-tiger guitar solo to cap it off. The latter is a wonderful essay in vintage electronic pop and languid, psychedelic soul.
Because her new songs demanded a plurality of voices, Olsen sings in a much broader range of styles on the album, and she brought in guest guitarist Seth Kauffman to augment her regular band of bass player Emily Elhaj, drummer Joshua Jaeger and guitarist Stewart Bronaugh. As for a producer, Olsen took to Justin Raisen, who's known for his work with Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira and Santigold, as well as opting to record live to tape at LA's historic Vox Studios.
As the record evolves, you get the sense that the "My Woman" of the title is Olsen herself - absolutely in command, but also willing to bend with the influence of collaborators and circumstances. If ever there was any pressure in the recording process, it's totally undetectable in the result. An intuitively smart, warmly communicative and fearlessly generous record, MY WOMAN speaks to everyone. That it might confound expectation is just another of its strengths.
Alex Cameron - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
When you talk about Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy you're talking about the online cowboys in the Wild West days of the World Wide Web. For those who haven't logged on, Roy Molloy is my good friend and business partner, he plays saxophone with me and also owns 50% of our entertainment business The Crawfish. That's one half of it, and if you want to know what we're really about, what's really at the elbow of the whole scenario, just look at all the things you wish you'd done differently. All the things you stopped yourself from doing on account of the fear of failure, or rejection. Weigh that up against your ambitions. Think about your work ethic. We're reclaiming failure as an act of progress. An act of learning. Something to celebrate. People have short memories like that. Short enough to forget what happened even two generations ago. Scared to acknowledge that we've made some bad calls and we're likely to again. Pushed the wrong buttons. Forgot to carry the one. Take a look around, I see class wars between educated critics and reality television life gurus. I see bronzed Californians preaching inaction through tightly edited frames. I see Americanized satire falling short from its killer blow. It's not enough.
Me n Roy got into show business young. To be the best. To have the truest sounding words. The kind of words that confess and redeem in the same breath. True things of beauty; ugly and naked just lingering there to be heard. We play with words. Turn em inside out. That's some good song writing. You wanna get online and check out the impact we've had in Australia that's your call. We've played on the country's biggest stages, hell, the first time I ever sang in public was to a sold out Sydney Opera House. That's if you don't count Karaoke, which I am also very good at. My song is Billy Idol's 'White Wedding.'
I was trained by 85-year-old Jewish Entertainer Steve Ostrow. Look him up, Steve is a sexual revolutionist, he founded the Continental baths in Manhattan in 1968. A confident, bisexual and classically trained opera singer, Steve had me focused on vocal delivery, "let them hear the lyrics, that's your only job." Steve took me into another dimension. Here was a guy, operating at a time when bigotry was a matter of societal standard, and he had the vision to use words and entertainment to bolster the strength of his community.
You think about that kind of liberation, then you take our current situation. Think about modern times. I see HBO airing fantasy shows with dogs committing infanticide. Millions tune in. Nothing fantastic about it. Just the filthy Soap dreams of a should-be recluse. Torture porn from 8-9, satirical news from 10-11. Quick LOL and a wank then off to bed. And I'm not even a cynic. I'm on the grid. I've got a Google phone and an iPad. I was raised by the sea, white as a broken wave. But I know when enough's enough. I know when a generation's been subdued by apathetic music and the love song is more about the having than the being had.
I heard it's a dangerous time to be online. You got the comments sections, and the thumbs down, but I ain't afraid to commit to theme. That's a risk I can afford. I ain't scared of Internet scrutiny, or the foreverness of text. I refuse to destroy the emotion in my work. The only way forward is unedited, uncensored, and without inhibition. That's how you get to the crux; you find what we all don't want to admit. I've learned to reveal what I want to unlearn. I cast a light on the darkness and in doing so understand love and compassion. Fear is to be confronted, and to learn strictly requires failure - over and over. Celebrate failure with Jumping The Shark.
Some people say me and Roy use mongrel tongues created by the internet, American-Australian slang. Others say we breathe life into a contemporary greyscale. Providing culture to an otherwise empty and lonely place. All I know is a word's meaning can change depending on who utters the thing; and so we present characters - shapes are morphed and stories are delivered.
And I’ll be frank – some of my stories got some low themes and some low tragic figures. Not tragic figures like Hamlet (I ain’t no Willy Shakespeare), but modern tragics. I got sex addicts, internet addicts, love tragics. I got villains, cheats, violent guys flooded with hormones and false bravado. They’re all in there. Good stories need em. Need villains. Some of these characters do and say things that I never would. Shameful things. But that’s what villains do.
And so we present to you tales of failure and self destruction. The ever-flowing undercurrent of sadness. The dismal slip beneath an entirely out of control mainstream. This is focused story telling. It's Phone-Noire. It's a collection of four-minute stories written to provide you with insight into the inner workings of failed ambitions. Come see a show. Witness the elation in the crowd. The smiles. The weight lifted. Finally something is being said. Feel the sweet relief of confession. It is OK. We failed. Join the side of the enlightened. Jump The Shark.
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001