Matthew Logan Vasquez @ The Sunset

The Crocodile Presents:

Matthew Logan Vasquez @ The Sunset

Juanita Stein, Valley Maker

Wed, May 24, 2017

8:30 pm

Sunset Tavern

Seattle, WA

$15 Adv.

This event is 21 and over

Matthew Logan Vasquez
Matthew Logan Vasquez
Matthew Logan Vasquez is feeling optimistic.

That’s not necessarily apparent the first time you spin his new full-length solo album. Each track on Matthew Logan Does What He Wants feels urgent and intense. Impatient landlords, financial woes and other frustrations fan the agitation embedded in the opening track, “Same.” Isolation darkens the brooding images of “From Behind The Glass.” Death takes a bow on “The Fighter.” Vasquez can’t help but juxtapose the celebration of “Fatherhood” with a lament that “we ain’t got the money to pay the hospital.”

The music enhances this impression. As fans of his work with Delta Spirit and Middle Brother know well, Vasquez knows how to fuse passion and poetry in his writing and then ignite this volatile mix with extraordinarily expressive singing. In this sense he stands as a peer and a worthy successor to those who influenced him as an up-and-coming artist — Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed and others often mentioned, none of them known for their upbeat, sunny lyrics.

“My point is that life is a struggle,” Vasquez continues. “But how can you have optimism and hope if you don’t have something negative? Context is what makes it meaningful.”

For Vasquez, context involves drawing from dramatically different settings. Growing up in Austin Texas and along the California coast, hunkering down for years in Brooklyn as he finessed his music in a more pressurized urban context and then heading back to Austin to put all the pieces together, he took note of the differences and similarities these places offered. During much of that time he channeled his experiences into Delta Spirit, whose albums inspired critics to laud the band as “restless and defiant” (Paste), its music infused by “waves of measured ferocity” (Uncut) and “significant depth” (Austin Chronicle).

To keep his path clear and work on his own terms, Vasquez built a studio in his home for this past year — a trailer parked about an hour west of Austin. Here, in Texas Hill Country, surrounded by evergreen oak trees, he wrote and recorded basic tracks and then brought in singer Kam Franklin from The Suffers, Shakey Graves drummer Christopher Booshada and Jud Johnson of A. Sinclair to add parts as needed. For backup vocals and string parts, he worked long-distance via sound files with the Parkington Sisters, who he performed with during a Middle Brother set at last year’s Newport Folk Festival. “They performed a miracle, giving me a 3-D depth that makes the tracks they appear on jump out of the speakers,” he insists.

In final form, Does What He Wants is like a hall of mirrors, each capturing a different image of one self-aware and restlessly creative individual. This music is diverse yet unified, which of course was a priority for its author.

And, in the end, it turns out to feel pretty optimistic after all — a perfect statement for these times and possibly for some time to come.
Juanita Stein
Juanita Stein
She's seen the world Americanize, gentrify and divide like a broken heart during a decade of touring the globe with her band Howling Bells, now Juanita Stein returns with her first solo collection of songs about a pre-apocalyptic America.

This isn’t the America of goofy teen movies, Twinkies and Trump, no Mam. It's that shattered dreamland Hunter S. Thompson went looking for... It's somewhere beyond the pines, at a crossroads where Badlands met Paris, Texas. A dustball in a once great land, reimagined whilst daydreaming about the plains filtered through the dirt on the tour bus window during laps of the US of A with The Killers and Coldplay.

These are songs from a dark-hearted country, where the lights of Nashville twinkle in the distance as the siren song leads you into the eternal night…
Valley Maker
Valley Maker
Life rarely provides obvious answers. But if you appreciate the beauty and wonder of exploring its complex mysteries, then Seattle's Valley Maker deserves your undivided attention. Recorded over two summers on opposite ends of the country, and composed during a nomadic period spanning two continents, When I Was A Child (out 9.25.15 on Brick Lane Records) features twelve originals that contemplate life, love, and death, faith and doubt, time and space. "Songwriting is a way to approach unanswerable questions, these experiences that don't have easy conclusions," says Austin Crane, the 27 year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter behind Valley Maker. Distinctive finger-picking, unconventional tunings, and plaintive vocals anchor Crane's music. Throughout this record, longtime collaborator Amy Godwin intertwines her voice intuitively with his; the end result sounds less like two individuals harmonizing than one who sings with astonishing depth and dimension. Pairing senses of immediacy and space, some songs mesmerize the ear with little else than voice and guitar, while others are fleshed out with bass, drums, and piano. Ambient noise imbues When I Was A Child with cohesion via a sense of being in the same room with the musicians.

Crane grew up in Florence, South Carolina, where I-95 intersects I-20. The oldest of six children, he spent his childhood in a tight-knit evangelical community. Music opened up the world to Austin when he received a guitar at the age of thirteen. As he grew older, his tastes settled towards key influences like Bill Callahan (Smog), Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy), Chan Marshall (Cat Power), and Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia). Valley Maker began in 2010 as Crane's senior thesis project at the University of South Carolina. Big existential ideas marked this first collection of Valley Maker songs, which explored the humanity and mystery of Biblical origins stories from the Book of Genesis. Eventually Crane posted this material online. While he played a few shows around these songs, he didn't imagine Valley Maker would carry him into the future after graduation. Instead, he embarked on a series of international aid internships, Eastern European adventures, and graduate studies that led him to Colorado, Bulgaria, Kentucky, Ukraine, back to South Carolina, and ultimately Washington.

As his travels continued, so did the music. "Songwriting became a way to stay in touch with other aspects of my experiences and my interior life. It would be disingenuous to say I never intended to record or play these new songs live, but I really didn't have a concrete plan when I wrote most of them." The vibrant music scene of the Pacific Northwest influenced his decision to come to the University of Washington for his Ph.D. studies in Human Geography – a field which happily affords him more opportunities to ask big questions. Balancing the two disciplines suits him fine. And the open-ended nature of this songwriting project permits him to showcase it live in different configurations: solo, in a duo with Godwin, or as a full band. Because as When I Was A Child affirms, when the questions you ask – and the art they inspire – remain fluid, moments of great truth and beauty ensue.
Venue Information:
Sunset Tavern
5433 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA, 98107
http://sunsettavern.com/