Posts Tagged ‘Bellows’

bellows

The Rose Gardener, Bellows’ fourth full-length album and the project’s first for Topshelf Records, is a four-part journey through the uncanny valley of deep psychological disorder and pain. Self-recorded over the course of a single winter while Oliver Kalb was living in Woodstock, NY, The Rose Gardener invokes a bright and pastoral landscape of Americana and folk, with lyrics influenced by a strange pairing of Romantic Poetry and deeply modern interrogations of internet pop-culture discourse. The uncanniness of The Rose Gardener comes from the odd pairing of this bright Americana musical foundation with the album’s dark, bubbling substructure of noise, synthesizers, sampling and vocal manipulation that together create a feeling of paranoia and danger around every corner; as if the album’s narrator cannot escape his plummeting into the dark however much its songs push to remain in the bright rose garden of beauty and creation.

This time around, rather than present great coloured skies and vistas, The Rose Gardener feels more pin-pointed, an exploration of what’s directly around us; a world within a world (the proverbial garden), but also lingering dark corners, the parts of our brain we don’t often find ourselves in.

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Musically, The Rose Gardener finds Kalb and co. in similarly stylistic mood to what’s come before, this aforementioned world brought into life through a series of skewed, odd-pop signatures, both light and dark, shaped by the manipulated vocals and the playful and plentiful rhythmic instrumentals that burst into bloom with the most graceful of touches.

The kind of record that feels tenderly consuming when you’re inside of it, and strangely dream-like when you’re not, the new album is another adventurous and emotive collection of songs, earthy and raw but idiosyncratic too; a maze-like allegory of pop songs, full of twists and turns you can’t explain. 

The Rose Gardener is released on Friday, via Topshelf Records

theepoch

The Epoch Collective, is a community of musicians, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, and more. We were grown together, and are growing still.

One of the final shows of the recent Bellows/Eskimeaux tour. Gabrielle Smith, aka Eskimeaux, was selling merch in a tiny, dusty cellar when a fan approached Smith and gushed to her something of how, The Epoch changed her life!” While flattered, Smith was not terribly surprised this is the sort of reaction The Epoch receives regularly.

Searching The Epoch tag directs one towards a seemingly infinite number of posts citing the group’s influence, pictures from shows, and even handmade cross-stitches. But gaining Internet fandom is not terribly difficult. Over the past three years, The Epoch bands has transformed from being their own biggest fans to having an incredibly devoted and wide spread fan base. For example Told Slant the band’s emotional outpour is overwhelming in itself, it was even more powerful to see how cathartic their music is for their fans. But perhaps the most admirable part about The Epoch is that they have found success completely by their own means. Starting a band with your best friends is a dream many have, but being in three or four bands with your friends, touring together, living together, and being genuinely kind people is actually an accomplishment. This is obviously a group worth examining.

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Most of the members met through attending the same schools or the same shows in the New York City area. While the details of their friendship foundations would require a much longer piece, the core Epoch members orated a brief timeline of the group, from their repressed high schools bands to now, when most of the members lived together in Brooklyn. The Epoch has transformed and will transform still. Because, as the collective says, “We were grown together, and are growing still.”

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The first unofficial Epoch band was The Mighty Handful. The self-described super group of relative unknowns would hand everyone in the audience instruments and shred paper from their parents’ offices for confetti; the concept was very much 2007-DIY party. But even back in 2008, there are glimmers of The Epoch as it is today. A majority of The Epoch members were involved in the band, even on the periphery: Henry Crawford, Jack Greenleaf, and Felix Walworth played in the band, Oliver Kalb may have made an appearance once, and Smith cites the shows as the beginning of her friendship with her future bandmates. But while the grandiose showmanship of The Mighty Handful may barely resemble the performances of its members now, Crawford said the “grains of the language and the attitude” would influence The Epoch. Specifically, the importance of mantras. The group’s future collective would be called The Epoch.

The collective had no trouble finding members; they were already there. But one large struggle was the creation of a logo. Finally, they agreed on the birds of flight because they felt the image best represented a group that may not sound similar, but love each other completely.

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Around the time of its conception, the Epoch members were spread across the country, each member had began independently writing music. Crawford was attending college in Chicago when he began Small Wonder. In January, Crawford released Wendy, a weighty, emotional record filled with soaring melodies. Greenleaf, like Crawford, also relocated to Chicago. It was there that he rediscovered his teenage love of Pop and The result became Sharpless, whose sophomore album “The One I Wanted To Be” was released in May.

sharpless

Back on the east coast, room mates Kalb and Walworth created Bellows and Told Slant,  Kalb released As If To Say I Hate Daylight, Bellows’ first album. After touring extensively with Bellows and Told Slant, graduating college, and returning to New York City, Kalb released his sophomore record, Blue Breath. In 2012, Walworth released the debut Told Slant LP Still Water. Now, two years later, the album has been re-released on vinyl. Kalb and Walworth, roommates, enlisted a variety of friends to play in their bands, but each has been a mainstay in each other’s bands, along with Gabrielle Smith. Smith describes herself as “a pretty late bloomer with music.”One of her first bands, Legs, was composed mostly of members found on Craigslist. Smith’s  current project, eskimeaux, are now, with a solid four piece live band, eskimeaux will be following up several EPs with a new album.

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Emily Sprague grew up in upstate New York. After performing for years in the Woodstock area under her own name, she moved to Albany. It was there that she met the Epoch gang. About a year ago, she adopted the name Florist, and has released several EPs of shivery honesty. Susannah Cutler is an artist and a musician. Cutler has been around The Epoch since its beginning , but she was “primarily represented as a visual artist up until recently.” She credits The Epoch as giving her the confidence to give her music a name and take her musical desires more seriously. Her project is called Yours Are the Only Ears.

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A lot of the NYC bands were trying to create a feeling , Most of our bands don’t sound similar but a uniting quality is that we all want to create music that people can feel like they are a part of rather then feel like they are just watching.

If you like this you should check out these bands.

Small Wonder, Florist, Bellows, Eskimeaux, Told Slant, Yours Are The Only Ears, Sharpless,Lamniformes,

Bellows -

Brooklyn art collective The Epoch already has three great releases to its name this year — Florist’s The Birds Outside Sang, Eskimeaux’s Year Of The Rabbit mini-album and, just last week, Told Slant’s Going By — and it’s about to add a fourth in the form of Bellows’ Fist & Palm. Bellows is the recording project of Oliver Kalb, who also plays in Eskimeaux and Told Slant, and Fist & Palm is the follow-up to 2014’s fantastic Blue Breath, and it also marks something of a stylistic departure. While Kalb flirted with more synthetic elements on his earlier work (or was at least focused on making the organic sound synthetic) — most memorably on tracks like “Blue Breath, Rosy Death” and “White Sheet” — nothing approached the bombast or immediacy of “Thick Skin,” Fist & Palm’s lead single.

“Thick Skin” is imbued with wonder from the jump: “Staring out your car window, I feel my size,” Kalb sings, his voice glossy and buoyant. “Hudson Palms, the Catskills Gulf Stream — the world’s alive!” It’s about wanting to open yourself up to the vastness of the world, knowing that the great big unknown can be harsh and terrifying and deciding to embrace it anyway. At one point, the whole band chimes in: “Don’t wanna leave the earth, even for a moment!” That radiating optimism reminds me a lot of fellow positivity purveyors Terror Pigeon; coupled with Kalb’s penchant for Sufjan Stevens-style dramatics, “Thick Skin” feels pretty invincible track.

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