Tue, April 7
Doors: 7:00 pm9:30 Club
José González - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
With his crystal-clear singing voice and vibrant, classically-inspired playing, Jose Gonzalez is one of today’s most remarkable artists, and a testament to the irrefutable power of one man and a guitar.
His debut album ‘Veneer’ captured his magical sound in its purest state, simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Touching on a remarkable array of influences, from folk to classic pop to a dazzling spectrum of world music, ‘Veneer’ touched audiences across the globe. Originally released in Sweden on Imperial Recordings in 2003 and on Hidden Agenda in North America in 2005, ‘Veneer’ was re-issued in the US on Mute Records in 2006. In September 2007 Gonzalez will release his sophomore album, the highly anticipated ‘In Our Nature’ (released in the US on Mute). ‘In Our Nature’ sees Gonzalez coming into his own as a songwriter with songs that are as instantly accessible as they are brimming with darkness and brooding intensity.
In the four years since the Swedish release of ‘Veneer,’ Gonzalez’ global profile has grown steadily. Winning the Swedish Grammy for Best Newcomer in 2004, Gonzalez was awarded the European Border Breaker Award in 2006 and the Swedish Government’s Music Export Award 2007. His cover of The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ (which appears on ‘Veneer’) was used in a successful European advertising campaign for the Sony Bravia LCD Television, and Gonzalez’ played multiple worldwide tours, performing for audiences in Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. ‘Veneer’ also went Platinum in Sweden and Great Britain, Double Platinum in Ireland and Gold in Australia and New Zealand.
In March 2006 Gonzalez performed seven times at SXSW – winning over audiences and critics in Austin TX. This set the stage for taking on North America. He has since toured the US extensively, selling out shows in every major market, and appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Carson Daly Show, with Zero 7 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and on the nationally syndicated English-language television show American Latino. Gonzalez was also a featured vocalist on the Grammy nominated Zero 7 album ‘The Garden.’
In 2006 Gonzalez performed at multiple music festivals including Central Park Summerstage in New York City, Austin City Limits, LA’s Hollywood Bowl, Seattle’s Bumbershoot, The Intonation Music Festival in Chicago and Toronto’s V Fest. Most recently, Gonzalez performed at the 2007 Coachella Music Festival in Indio California.
Gonzalez, like his music, is deceptively unassuming, studied and powerful. Swedish-born but of Argentinean descent, Gonzalez picked up the guitar at 14, learning the basics from his dad’s gift of a Beatles songbook, then studying classical guitar through his teens. At the same time as he was learning the ins-and-outs of his acoustic instrument, Gonzalez indulged edgier tastes like The Misfits and Black Flag by playing bass in a pair of Gothenburg hardcore bands.
In 1998, Gonzalez began playing guitar in a friend’s indie rock band, saving his own songs for an as-yet-undetermined purpose. He eventually put together his own trio, dubbed Junip, with an ear towards creating more experimental-tinged music a la Low and the Constellation Records catalog (home of, among others, of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Do Make Say Think). Incredibly, that wasnâ€™t enough for the young musician. His newfound interest in artists such as Cat Power and Songs: Ohia – as well as a lifelong passion for singers like Chet Baker and Joao Gilberto – compelled him to attempt some solo recordings.
While working towards his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, Gonzalez music career began to take shape, eventually forcing him to choose a career in music over one in research.
The foundation on which he builds his songs is the same on which he built his studies – he attacks his music patiently, methodically and with great interest in finding unexpected angles. ‘In Our Nature’ is about exploring these angels.
“I didn’t want to write about love but to find other equally universal themes for the songs” says Gonzalez about the making of ‘In Our Nature.’ “These are things I have always been thinking about. But the last six months I became even more interested after I read the book ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. He’s an evolutionary biologist, but the lyrics are far from biological, I’d like to point that out. It’s mainly the themes that interest me.”
“I like playing with symbolism,” Gonzalez continues, “On this album I’ve wanted to bring out the primitive aspects of human beings.”
‘In Our Nature’ was recorded entirely on tape at a Gothenburg studio. Though Gonzalez spent a great deal of time writing these new songs – playing them over and over into a voice recorder until he was confident in their arrangements – the actual recording of the album happened very quickly, taking less than two weeks in the studio to record ten songs.
While it is sonically similar to ‘Veneer,’ ‘In Our Nature’ shows Gonzalez’ growth as a songwriter. Displaying a heightened emphasis on melody and strong, focused lyrics – the album is a dark combination of softness and anger that is at once mesmerizing, intimate and hauntingly epic.
Jose Gonzalez – Key Facts Age: 29 Lives: Haga in Gothenburg Family: His mother and two siblings live in Sweden. His father has returned to Argentina. Playing on the album are: Jose Gonzlez, guitar and vocals, Erik Bodin, percussion, Yukimi Nagamo, backing vocals and HÃ¥kan Wirenstrand, keyboards. The album art for In Our Nature is done by Elias Araya. Has played in Against the Wall, Renascence, Only if You Call Me Jonathan, and is playing in Junip. Sources of inspiration: Chet Baker, Geoff Farina, Low, Fela Kuti, Elliott Smith, Broadcast, MF Doom, J Dilla, Konono no 1, Nina Simone. Veneer, the debut album, has sold 700.000 copies as of June 2007 Awards: European Border Breaker Award 2006. The Swedish government music export award 2007 (for sales in 2006). Swedish Grammy in the category Best New Artist 2004. Award for best Swedish songwriter of the year from SMFF (Swedish Music Publishers Association). Award for Singer/songwriter of the year at Manifestgalan. Sales awards: Platinum in Sweden and Great Britain. Double Platinum in Ireland. Gold in Australia and New Zealand. Has toured practically all over the world during the last 4 years. ‘In Our Nature’ will be released simultaneously in 35 countries; Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Central and South America and South Africa among others.
Ólöf Arnalds - (Set time: 8:15 PM)
Ólöf Arnalds is an Icelandic singer and multi-instrumentalist. Classically educated on the violin and self-taught on viola, guitar and charango, Ólöf's most distinctive asset is, nonetheless, her voice. A voice of instantly captivating, spring water chasteness possessed of a magical, otherworldly quality that is simultaneously innocent yet ancient ("somewhere between a child and an old woman" according to Björk).
While she has been favorably compared with the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Judee Sill, Ólöf's approach to making music remains highly individual: playful but intimate; accessible and uplifting, yet deeply personal and suffused with a timeless mystique that goes beyond the puckish inscrutability of her native tongue. Ólöf has also quickly proved herself as a magnetic, utterly self-assured stage performer, reliant as much on screwball humor, vaudevillian charm and even outright bawdiness, as much as the contrasting delicacy of her song delivery.
Recorded by Sigur Rós's Kjartan Sveinsson, Ólöf's 2007 debut, Við Og Við is an album of ingeniously adorned whole take performances, whose charged minimalism creates an inimitable world of its own. The album would duly accrue a sheaf of accolades at home, including Best Alternative Album at the Iceland Music Awards and Record of the Year at Iceland's principal daily newspaper, Morgunblaðið. Upon it's international release in 2009, Við Og Við would elicit gushing notices from the likes of Vanity Fair, NME, and SPIN and prompt MOJO to herald Ólöf as "Reykjavik's answer to Kate Bush." The New York Times described her voice as "high and clear, with a gentle quaver that humanizes its otherworldly purity" while Rolling Stone observed "fluttering folk songs as fragile as tiny china swans". Meanwhile, Paste magazine would dub Við Og Við "impossibly lovely" and vote it Number 38 in its Top 100 Albums of 2007 list. Not to be outdone, eMusic ranked it #87 in their 100 Best Albums of the Decade.
Ólöf's acclaimed sophomore album, Innundir skinni includes both Ólöf's first recorded songs delivered in English and her first duets – with Ragnar Kjartansson (Crazy Car) and Björk (Surrender). The album, which Pitchfork described as "a rich and musically complex experience," was one of Uncut Magazine's Top 50 albums of 2010 and the song "Madrid" was named iTunes UK's World Song of the Year. The album also earned Ólöf a Songwriter of the Year gong at the Iceland Music Awards and was shortlisted for the inaugural Nordic Music Prize.
Late 2011 saw the release of Ólöf Sings, an EP comprised of studio versions of road-tested covers from her live set. She reinterprets songs by Arthur Russell, Neil Diamond, Caetano Veloso, Bob Dylan, Gene Clark and Bruce Springsteen. Uncut Magazine noted "All are deceptively simple, all carry an emotional punch".
Ólöf has performed and toured at the request of numerous notable admirers including Jonathan Richman, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Björk, Blonde Redhead and Air. Ólöf is currently completing an all-English album of originals.
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Washington, DC, 20001