Posts Tagged ‘Beach Slang’

James Alex’s Beach Slang is back with his first LP since 2016’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked on that link but this first single rips from front to end. Replacements Tommy Stinson helps out on this album.

While James Alex has always infused his anthemic power pop with the earnestness of a gutter poet, Deadbeat Bang sneaks up on you. Like all Beach Slang albums, the eleven tracks are all written and arranged by James. It’s big, loud, and brash, immediately setting the tone for a record more inspired by the stadium classic rock of Cheap Trick than early Replacements. The record was mixed by heavy-hitter Brad Wood, celebrated for his work with the Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair.

Downtown lust, switchblade blues, runaway stutter going tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick boom. Lipstick thump, baby, I’m bulletproof. Boulevard thunder going tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. Bam rang rang. Go bam rang rang. The deadbeat bang of heartbreak city. I’m a cigarette with nothing to lose. I’m a filthy rat, a heart attack, a no-good nothing with an itch to scratch. Bam rang rang. Go bam rang rang. The deadbeat bang of heartbreak city. I got a dimestore strut and a cold gin stare. I’m a loaded gun with a sawed-off sneer. You betcha.
From the upcoming full-length album “The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City”
Released October 14th, 2019

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Back in January, Beach Slang shared his rendition of Bob Mould’s “I Hate Alternative Rock,” the first track off a two-song covers EP titled MLPS (Minneapolis). Today, the project can be heard in full, including a cover of Paul Westerberg’s “AAA” (which Paul originally released under his Grandpaboy moniker). This cover stays pretty faithful to the original, albeit slightly sped up.

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Since 2014 Beach Slang’s brand of punk tinged rock & roll has catapulted them into being one of the most recognizable and exciting names in underground music today. With a string of albums on beloved emo/indie institution Polyvinyl and even more EPs under their belt, Beach Slang are ready to unleash their next EP, ‘MPLS’ via Quiet Panic / Bridge Nine. Dubbed as a ‘thank you’ to Minneapolis, the EP was produced by Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac and features Beach Slang’s take on Bob Mould and Paul Westerberg songs, respectively. ‘MPLS’ is officially out on March 15th.

If Beach Slang is James Alex fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is him head-over-heels for The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt.” Their first two and a half years as a band (2014-2016) saw them release two great EPs and two great full-length albums, and that’s not counting their cool covers EPs where they pay tribute to the artists they very openly love. If they were to put out a “greatest hits,” it’d be one of the most rock-solid punk albums of our time, and frontman (and only remaining original member) James Alex has sort of done just that with his new solo album as Quiet Slang. Titled Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, it’s stripped down versions of ten of Beach Slang’s best songs, from their first EP to their latest album, re-arranged for piano, cello, and voice.

This is an utterly gorgeous record that moves, inspires, and invites mixtape inclusion at every turn, Alex’s punk rock transformed into ethereal hymns to love and comradeship. A true delight.”

“Musically, these new versions feel totally natural, with Slang’s melodies holding up to scrutiny and the simple chord patterns leaving room for piano and cello to decorate the songs.

Beach Slang can be a raging punk band, but they’ve always had a sweet side to their songs, and that comes through loud and clear (well, quiet and clear) on Everything Matters. The songs sound beautiful with these arrangements, and in their own way, they’re just as effective as the originals. Who knew that the headbanging punk of “Filthy Luck” could work as a minimal piano ballad, or that the fist-raising “The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk!” shouts of “Noisy Heaven” could flow so gorgeously into a sea of cello? It’s a really special record, one that could easily appeal to longtime Beach Slang fans and newcomers alike, and we’re excited to be premiering a stream of the whole thing. Listen, along with the just-released video for “Future Mixtape For The Art Kids,” .

Considering that, there’s something almost cheeky about the title of his new project: Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that’s set to drop on May 18th.

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That’s when he turned to the project’s key influence: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. Merritt’s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. “Why do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?” goes the final lines of “100,000 Fireflies.” “We should be whispering all the time.”

“That just always stuck with me,” Alex says, “how quiet can sometimes be more powerful.” He continues, “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.”

Quiet Slang

Though many people are now familiar with James Alex’s work in the “play it loud and fast” punk band, Beach Slang, all along Alex has felt the songs he writes could possess more emotion when not buried underneath layers of distortion and reverb.

Enter: Quiet Slang. Making what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” he first experimented with re-imagining his music with only piano, cell0, and voice for an EP released this past fall. And now, the project’s debut full-length -“Everything Matters But No One Is Listening ” has officially arrived!.

In reflecting on this exciting new project, James Alex says: “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt.”

Rock and roll is sort of my consolation prize for wanting to have been a writer,” says James Alex. It’s a humble admission from the frontman of Philadelphia’s Beach Slang, a fiery punk quartet whose raucous gigs often find the songwriter’s earnest lyrics bellowed back at him. Beach Slang’s “Play it loud, play it fast,” goes the mission statement that is the opening to “Future Mixtape For The Art Kids,” “Play me something that will always last.” Everything about Beach Slang is loud, from the guitars to its attitude to Alex’s weathered rasp.

Considering that, his newest project : Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that’s set to drop on May 18th.

The project’s seeds were planted just six months after Beach Slang’s formation, when Alex was asked to a solo Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. “That was just me, my guitar and a clumsy excuse for charm. But, yeah, the response was beautifully unexpected and really nudged my thinking,” he says. “Even now, at almost every show we play somebody’s like, ‘I got turned onto your band from that NPR thing. You should make a record like that.’” A successful solo tour last year solidified the idea in Alex’s mind, but he says he wasn’t content to make a “campfire record,” elaborating that he “wanted it to have more weight than that.”

That’s when he turned to the project’s key influence: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. Merritt’s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. “Why do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?” goes the final lines of “100,000 Fireflies.” “We should be whispering all the time.”

“That just always stuck with me,” Alex says, “how quiet can sometimes be more powerful.” He continues, “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.

Alex linked up with longtime co-producer Dave Downham for the project, who worked with him in bringing on cellist Dan Delaney and pianist Keith Giosa. Rounding out the crew were Stacey Downham, Matt Weber, Charlie Lowe and New Jersey quartet The Warhawks, who lent their voices to evoke what Alex describes as a “back alley choir.”

The songs that spoke first and foremost to Alex were songs that he feels never quite achieved the vision initially had for them: “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids” and “Warpaint,” both from 2016’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings.

“I was really proud of those things when I wrote them, but, once they left my home studio, something sort of slipped away. When they went loud, they never quite found the emotion I knew was tucked inside of them. For those two, specifically, I knew I wanted another crack.”

A good thing, too. “Future Mixtape For the Art Kids” is a rousing document of rebellion on A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, but the subdued strings and soft piano of Quiet Slang reveal a love story among outsiders, a midnight connection in dim streets as beautiful as they are cruel. And while the gritted teeth of “Warpaint” remain in its quiet rendition, the empathy coursing through Alex’s call to strength and spirit here conquers his anger.

“Warpaint,” and the album itself, closes with the last verse being played in reverse, a choice that helps to further distinguish Beach Slang from Quiet Slang. If the former is concerned with living as presently as possible, the latter feels like a spiral of memory, an attempt to remember the rush through the bleary eyes of a hungover morning after. It’s the walk home after a night that you know you’ll never live again, and the confusing mess of triumph and melancholy that covers it.

“I wanted the record to end not with a word, but a feeling,” he says, “even if it’s uneasy or hopeful or whatever. Just some weight of feeling.”

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Though a new Beach Slang record is next up on Alex’s docket, he’s open to the possibility of more Quiet Slang. The project’s sophomore release, he notes, would contain original songs. “I guess I wanted to chase reinterpretation first. I dug the challenge of it. But, yeah, Quiet Slang deserves its own voice.”

Regardless of its future, however, he hopes the project can convey one simple thing: “Tenderness. I suppose that sounds overly simplified. But, still, it makes it no less sincere. Look, I’m trying to soften the world a little bit—there’s worse ways to be remembered.”

releases May 18, 2018

For someone with an extremely well-documented love of Loud Guitars and with his amp turned all the way up, James Alex of the band Beach Slang’  has revealled a soft spot for the quieter side of rock and roll. On his new stripped down EP as Quiet Slang, We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, he lays down gentler versions of two of his songs, “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids” and “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas,” before switching over to two covers, “Androgynous” by The Replacements and “Thirteen” by Big Star. Both songs have gotten some pretty stellar cover treatment recently, with “Androgynous” getting a Miley Cyrus backyard session with Laura Jane Grace , Joan Jett, and The Menzingers tackling “Thirteen” on a covers EP earier this year.

The Slang version is a fitting homage to Alex Chilton’s original version, swapping out the acoustic guitar for piano and cello to create a swirling, lullaby-style take on it. “Thirteen” was the second Big Star song Alex says he ever heard (the first being “September Gurls”). “I couldn’t define it or categorize it or even come close to figuring it out,” he says. “It was just this haunting, weirdo, alien pop. And it walloped me. Some stuff is like that, you know?”

Hear one BS covering another BS below. We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags is out on October 13th from Polyvinyl and you can pre-order it here. Beach Slang is hitting the road soon and you can hear them, loudly,

 

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Beach Slang frontman James Alex has been busy reworking his band’s songs for an EP to be put out under the moniker Quiet Slang next month.

Listen to ‘Hot Tramps’, a new song he wrote “on the same day David Bowie died. I don’t know. I felt like making something was the best way to punch through it, to figure it out . I suppose, some of it’s about Bowie. Most of it’s about a girl. All of it’s about patching up the cracks. So, that’s the deal, you know? A few chords, some clumsy words and a title you swiped from a hero — it doesn’t fix it all, but it numbs the sting. Maybe that’s enough.”

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Almost since Beach Slang came into being, bandleader James Alex has taken to performing his group’s heartfelt anthems as more intimate solo renditions.

Appropriately dubbed “Quiet Slang,” these alternate reality versions of Beach Slang’s music have now simultaneously been stripped down and fleshed out in the studio to include piano and cello. The result is a collection of songs that peel away the layers of reverb and distortion to lay bare their starkly honest and emotional cores.

I suppose we’re all chasing something that resembles salvation, something that calms our bones. Maybe this is some small slice of that. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s chaos in soft clothes. Maybe it’s frightened. Maybe it’s fearless. Maybe it’s both. Or maybe it’s nothing. I don’t know, but I think about this: one day I’m going to be dust. And when my soul splits, maybe this will be the thing that sneaks me through the gates. If not, well, those are the breaks.

James Alex [Quiet Slang]

Beach Slang’s We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags [Quiet Slang] is out October 20th, 2017.

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I’ve always been sort of clumsy. Mostly meaning socially. That’s tricky business when you’ve got a big, gooey heart. But, yeah, when I can’t quite figure out how to say a thing to someone, I make tapes for them. I need them to really know I mean it, you know? That’s what this is: me letting you know how much I mean it. Every drunk sing along, every sweaty hug, every shirt you wear, record you grab, letter you write, thing you say…it’s a really wild heart-sweller. Thank you for all of it.

For Volume I, I landed here. I mean, lots of songs mean something to me. These six mean a whole lot. I hope they will to you. If you already know them, play them loud and remember it all. If you don’t, I hope they feel like something you’ve been waiting for.
Some people tell me I overly romanticize rock & roll. That I have too much of a dreamer head. I’ve never apologized for that. Nah, not even once.
Be alright,
James Alex

Beach Slang is the band to end all bands. This first Mixtape of theirs will hopefully be one of many. Oh, and if you like this go grab their debut album.

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