Frankie Cosmos @ Neumos

Neumos & The Crocodile Present:

Frankie Cosmos @ Neumos

Ian Sweet, Soar

Tue, April 17, 2018

8:00 pm

Neumos

Seattle, WA

$15 Adv.

This event is all ages

Frankie Cosmos
Frankie Cosmos
New York native songwriter and composer Greta Kline has shared a bounty of her innermost thoughts and experiences from the past six years through the almost inconceivable number of songs she has released since 2011. Like many of her peers, Kline’s prolific creative output was initially born out of an era where bedroom recording and self-releasing became more possible than ever through the advent of the internet. But as she’s grown as a writer and performer, playing to larger audiences and devising more complex albums, Kline has shifted from an artist who’s made strides despite limitations, to an artist whose impact can be seen across modern independent music. Her newest record, Vessel, which will be out spring 2018 through Sub Pop Records, is the 52nd release from Kline and the third studio album by her indie pop outfit Frankie Cosmos. On it, Kline explores all of the changes that have come in her life as a result of the music she has shared with the world for the past half-decade, as well as the parts of her life that have remained irrevocable.

Frankie Cosmos has taken several different shapes since their first full band album, Zentropy, erupted in New York’s DIY music scene in 2014. For Vessel the band’s line up comprises of multi-instrumentalists David Maine, Lauren Martin, Luke Pyenson, and Kline, who each contributed their own musical sensibilities to help shape the sound of the new record. In between tours supporting their last album, Next Thing, Kline brought new songs to the band’s rehearsals, and together the members collectively participated in turning them into full band arrangements. As a result, the album’s staggering 18 tracks implement a range of instrumentations and recording methods unheard of on the albums preceding it, while still maintaining the succinctly sincere nature of Kline’s songwriting.

The album’s opening track, “Caramelize,” serves as the thematic overture for Vessel, alluding to topics like dependency, growth, and love which reoccur throughout the record. The song strings together a scope of musical motifs and showcases the intense dynamics in both Kline’s lyrics and the band’s performance that continue on the tracks that follow. Although many of the scenarios and personalities written about on Vessel are familiar territory for Frankie Cosmos, what’s really changed on the new record is Kline’s nuanced point of view and her desire to constantly question the latent meaning of her experiences. In the album’s first single “Jesse,” Kline grapples with the startling personal epiphanies in life that stem from dreams and subconscious realizations. On another single, “Apathy,” Kline confronts her own insecurities around personal change and feeling distant from the people she once had a close relationship with. Then later on the album “Accommodate,” deals with the complexity of being in a community that would rather turn its nose a problem than hold its members accountable. “Being Alive” stands out as one of the few old bandcamp-era Frankie Cosmos songs the band reworked for Vessel, and shows the rhythm section quickly shifting between fast and slow tempos as Kline ponders the minutia of existence. Kline’s dissonant lyrics are paired with the band’s driving, jangly grooves creating several moments on the album where the bandmates’ chemistry playing together is brought to the forefront.

To record Vessel, Frankie Cosmos traveled back up to Binghamton, New York to work with Hunter Davidsohn, the producer and studio engineer who helped craft the sound for Zentropy and Next Thing. The band spent 3 days upstate tracking drums, bass, guitars, and vocals, favoring the spontaneity of reel-to-reel tape over the meticulous perfectionism caused by recording digitally. Then the band and Davidsohn continued recording the album for another three days in Brooklyn with Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader at their studio, Gravesend Recordings. As Frankie Cosmos started testing out new songs for Vessel on the road, the band invited members from their fellow touring bands to join them on stage to sing or play parts on tracks like “Being Alive” and “Jesse.” Once in the studio, the band decided to invite those same friends and more to contribute parts to the final recorded versions including Alex Bailey (formerly of Warehouse, who has replaced David Maine as a permanent member of the live band), Vishal Narang (of Airhead DC), and singer/songwriter Anna McClellan. After six days of recording, Davidsohn continued mixing the album back upstate and eventually sent the finished album to Josh Bonati to be mastered.

Vessel’s run time is exactly double the length of Frankie Cosmos’ breakout record, Zentropy, and serves as enormous leap forward in the band’s catalog. But ultimately, the album’s unique sensibility, esoteric narratives, and reveling energy, allow it to exist as just another distinctive chapter in Kline’s ongoing musical auto-biography. Through Vessel, Kline provides the listener with a spectrum of disparate anecdotes, observations, and affirmations and then tasks them with arranging the pieces in a way that they can make their own sense of. Typically albums by artists at a similar stage in their career are written with the weight of knowing that someone is on the other end listening. Yet, despite bringing attention to her audience in direct references, Kline and the rest of Frankie Cosmos have passionately written Vessel with a clarity not muddled by the fear of meeting anyone’s expectation.
Ian Sweet
Ian Sweet
IAN SWEET has been the source of and solution to many of Jilian Medford’s deepest anxieties. But now, two years after her soul-bearing debut LP Shapeshifter, Medford is confronting that reality with surprising optimism on her new full-length Crush Crusher. Medford has decided to make the project a solo endeavor once again (as it had been in her salad days in the Boston DIY scene) and took the opportunity to compose some of her most self reflective and emotionally analytical songs to date.

In writing Crush Crusher, Medford committed herself to exploring her own issues with self-image, self-respect/worth, and the responsibility she has felt to others. Album opener “Hiding” was one of the first songs she wrote for the record while living in a frigid Brooklyn apartment during a winter break amidst her grueling tour schedule. In the song, Medford reflects on an interpersonal relationship that fell apart because of an inability to feel supreme comfort in sharing all the pieces of herself with someone. Nevertheless, a hopeful demeanor shines through on “Hiding” and in her writing across the album, with lyrics that embrace life’s hurdles and make them feel a little less scary.

Much of Crush Crusher’s songs deal with Medford’s internalized pressure to become a caretaker in many of her close friends’ lives. As a defense mechanism for her own insecurities, Medford projects a sense of invincibility and benevolence to feel more deserving of the love received from others; we hear this on “Holographic Jesus” when she repeats the phrase “the sun built me to shade everybody,” characterizing the sacrifice and responsibility she feels in ways that could easily go unnoticed. “Holographic Jesus” ultimately represents a façade of strength that Medford has clung onto and, in true Taurus fashion, is stubborn to let go of.

Musically, Crush Crusher is full of dissonant open chords and abnormal progressions, finding beauty in a level of conflict not seen on Shapeshifter. To help achieve this expansive-but-focused sound, Medford enlisted the help of someone who was just as ambitiously experimental in their approach, producer and engineer Gabe Wax (Deerhunter, The War on Drugs, Soccer Mommy). Medford and Wax set up shop at Rare Book Room studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and completed the basic tracking with musicians Simon Hanes on bass and Max Almario on drums. “Coming into a space where some of my biggest inspirations like Bjork, Dirty Projectors, and Deerhunter had all once also recorded, I felt determined to push myself and test every boundary that I may have subconsciously created along the way. Gabe made me feel comfortable with attempting anything,” Medford says. By the end of the recording process, IAN SWEET wound up with an unconventional assortment of songs featuring disparate elements of psych-rock, trip-hop, and shoegaze that together forged a sound uniquely her own.

Crush Crusher’s closing track “Your Arms Are Water” serves as a thematic reprise for the whole album, telling the story of an inspiring relationship in Medford’s life that was drowning in doubt. The song’s nuanced perspective captures the record’s thesis—that to escape your misery sometimes requires accepting your imperfections. Such compassionate and densely-realized observations make Crush Crusher more nourishing food for thought for fans of IAN SWEET.
Venue Information:
Neumos
925 E Pike St
Seattle, WA, 98122
http://www.neumos.com/