Posts Tagged ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’

Formed in 2004 when Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand—both of whom had just recently graduated college—found themselves in different bands in the Baltimore indie rock scene (Baltimore has spawned Dan Deacon, Ponytail, Future Islands and more). After playing together in a different band that siphoned off members, it eventually just became the two of them writing songs on an organ and a guitar. Eventually, they’d have a live drummer, but it’s remained Legrand and Scally since the beginning.

It’s hard to peg Beach House to a genre beyond that big nebulous “indie rock,” but after 15 years and seven releases, they are a genre unto themselves. Because they haven’t expanded their palette that much, the beauty of the Beach House catalog is tracking how they recontextualized their sound again and again, adding more drums, making the songs faster and shinier, and moving back again to their lo-fi sound. While their albums all sound similar, they all stand as unique entities. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2006 to critical acclaim and has been followed by Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010, Bloom in 2012, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars in 2015, and B-sides and Rarities in 2017.

Legrand’s vocals to 1980s psychedelic rock vocalist Kendra Smith of the band Opal. The group’s influences include This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, The Zombies, Brian Wilson, Françoise Hardy, Neil Young, Big Star,and Chris Bell.

Last week, Beach House dropped “Lemon Glow,” the lead single from their upcoming seventh album. It’s due out later this spring—no hard date has been announce yet—but this new single is a perfect appetite whetted. Build on a gauzy drum and organ figure, it’s cut with Legrand’s lush vocals and occasional searing blasts of guitar from Scally. Turn the lights down low, indeed. This vaulted to the top of our most anticipated album of 2018 list in four minutes and five seconds.

Beach House

Recorded in 2 days, Beach House’s debut LP is a lo-fi mirage, the scrappiest version of an album that can be described as so lush you could sleep on it. The album was the culmination of a couple years of experimentation and live shows. “Apple Orchard” is the song that ran through MP3 blogs, but for my money “House on the Hill” is the album’s centerpiece.

producing music composed largely of organ, programmed drums, and slide guitar. Of the origins of the band name, Scally said: “We’d been writing music, and we had all these songs, and then there was that moment where you say ‘what do we call ourselves?’ We tried to intellectualize it, and it didn’t work. There were different plant-names, Wisteria, that kind of thing. Stupid stuff. But, once we stopped trying, it just came out, it just happened. And it just seemed perfect.” In an interview with Pitchfork, Legrand addressed their two member status; “[I]t’s a way to challenge ourselves: What do you do when it’s just the two of you… [O]ne of the reasons this has been such a fulfilling experience for me is that with two people, it’s so much easier to achieve things that feel exciting and new.”

Released October 2006 through Carpark Records the band’s self-titled debut album, Beach House,

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Devotion

Released 10 years ago on February 26th, 2008, Beach House’s second album Devotion marks the point where Beach House found their sound. Singer Victoria Legrand and her musical partner, guitarist and keyboardist Alex Scally, have traveled far since then. Later albums, like 2015’s gorgeous Depression Cherry, have made them one of the most beloved indie acts of their generation. But this one stands alone as a moment of discovery. It felt then and feels now like a glimpse of a private world. A secret worth treasuring.

It was received with similar acclaim and was included in Best Albums of 2008 list. On October 21, 2008, the group released the single “Used to Be”Beach House also recorded a cover of Queen’s “Play the Game” release of the Red Hot Organization’s 2009 compilation, Dark Was The Night.

In 2009, Legrand provided backing vocals on the song “Two Weeks” by the indie rock band Grizzly Bear. She later collaborated with the band again by providing vocals to “Slow Life”, the band’s contribution to the soundtrack for the film Twilight: New Moon.

Teen Dream

If Devotion is the album that put Beach House on every indie fan’s radar and represented the first appearance of the Beach House we know now, Teen Dream was the one that put them in the first two lines of festival lineups.

The duo’s “dynamic and intense” third album, was released on Sub Pop Records.  After touring Devotion for close to two years—and writing on the road, as “Norway” debuted during promotion of the album—the band worked with producer Chris Coady for the first time, and suddenly the shimmery, beautiful organ sounds became even more shimmery and beautiful. 

Teen Dream features the lynchpins of the Beach House live show, like “Zebra” and “Take Care.” . Teen Dream did little to alter Beach House’s core characteristics– slow-motion beats layered with hazy keyboard drones, rippling guitar figures, and Victoria Legrand’s melancholic melodies– but greatly amplified them to the point of redefining the band’s essence, from that of introverted knee-gazers into an assured, emotionally assertive force.  Legrand stated: “I see this as just another step in a direction. I would not want to say that 2010 will be our year, necessarily, I hope it’s just another year in which we do good work. I don’t want to be defined by this year, I want it to just be a beginning.

While Beach House have a reputation, in their music at least, of being pretty serious, anyone who’s been to a live show knows that they’re really funny and personable during the in-between song banter. They also sometimes cover songs you wouldn’t expect them to cover. Case-in-point: They played a sinister, amazing cover of Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade” at festival spots in 2010. My favorite part of this cover is that some media outlet (I can’t find this now, but if someone could help me out @ me) interviewed them at the time about “their new song about lemons” and they had to explain it was a Gucci Mane cover. It’s impossible to imagine someone interviewing Beach House in 2018 not knowing Gucci Mane.

Bloom

Bloom shot Beach House to the stratosphere; it delivered on all the sonics of Teen Dream, and even debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard charts. Listening to this album is like riding a horse into an infinite vista, where you will meet everyone you’ve ever loved. Released on March 7th, 2012 the band streamed a new song, “Myth”, from their website. The album Bloom was released on May 15th, 2012 via Sub Pop Records. A second song from the album, “Lazuli”, was released. The band released a short film, Forever Still, The film, directed by the band and Max Goldman, was inspired by Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii and features the band performing songs from Bloom at various sites around Tornillo, Texas, where the album was recorded. The idea for the film came from the band’s desire to make quality promotional content they could control artistically: “We had previously been involved in too many live sessions, radio tapings, photo shoots, etc., where the outcome was far below our personal artistic standards.

We also felt a need to distance ourselves from the ‘content’ culture of the internet that rewards quantity over quality and shock over nuance.

Depression Cherry & Thank Your Lucky Stars

In August 2015, Beach House released their fifth LP, Depression Cherry which they promoted the usual ways, by doing tons of interviews, appearing on late night TV and releasing singles. It had a bunch of songs that felt of a piece with Bloom—the highlight being “Sparks.” A month after Depression Cherry came out, the band surprise dropped another album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, a darker, more lo-fi album—in some ways, it’s the spiritual sequel to Devotion—that they didn’t want to have fall into the “traditional” album cycle of promotion. As a set, the albums are a good encapsulation of everything Beach House had done leading up to 2015; the lo-fi, the widescreen and everything in between.

The album was released on August 28th via Sub Pop Records (on Bella Union in the UK)  and the band announced a world tour in support. Talking of the direction of the new album, the band said “In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role. With the growing success of Teen Dream and Bloom, the larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies. Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.”.

B-Sides & Rarities

Compilations of B-sides and rarities are often either released at the end of a long career as a vault clearing, or as a way for a band to reset after a long creative period. In Beach House’s case, this release feels like the latter, a way for them to put a capstone on their last six albums, as they look forward to whatever is next. Like, maybe a new album in 2018. The fun highlights here are the remixes, because you don’t realize how malleable Beach House songs are until you hear them fussed up.

The compilation, B-Sides and Rarities, was eventually released on June 30th, 2017, and was supported by a new song, “Chariot”, which served as the lead single of the compilation and one of the two previously unreleased songs on it.

Beach House enchanted an Uptown Theater audience with its unique sounds Saturday night.

While “Depression Cherry” radiates warmth, its stately follow-up is like an ice castle sculpted from Alex Scally’s guitar textures and Victoria Legrand’s voice and keyboards. A vast, frostily majestic work, the album beckons to us from afar, trading immediacy for an enigmatic remoteness that offers new mysteries with every listen,

More composers than songwriters, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, who perform as the duo Beach House, create soundscapes, waves of ambiance and/or dissonance that render a variety of moods and atmospheres.

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Theirs isn’t commercial music; there are few, if any, pop moments in their songs. And depending upon how deeply their listeners let themselves get involved, prolonged exposure to their music and midtempo rhythms can be either hypnotic or monotonous. Legrand the band’s lead singer and keyboardist. Her voice (think of Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star or Julee Cruise) is pretty in an interesting way. Amid the sounds that surround it — drums, synthesized noises and Scally’s ornate guitar forays — her voice becomes another instrument, another layer of sound.

“Thank Your Lucky Stars” is the 6th album from Beach House (and 2nd new full length of 2015)! The band have the following to say about it:  Slow music for the soul. I think I like it a little more than Depression Cherry.

“Thank Your Lucky Stars is our sixth full length record. It was written after “Depression Cherry” from July 2014 – November 2014 and recorded during the same session as Depression Cherry. The songs came together very quickly and were driven by the lyrics and the narrative. In this way, the record feels very new for us, and a great departure from our last few records. Thematically, this record often feels political. It’s hard to put it into words, but something about the record made us want to release it without the normal “campaign.” We wanted it to simply enter the world and exist.
Thank you very much,
Beach House”

released October 16th, 2015

The Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House creates videos that don’t need to make sense. The band, which has a decade-long discography, makes music that’s easy to get lost in, with a heavy wall of sound and ambient noise. In the new video for “The Traveller,” we see unearthly footage of a woman in red walking around a dark set. The video feels like an artifact from another dimension: Everything is distorted and fuzzy — more like an experimental short film than a music video. As it plays out, we hear a song drenched in gorgeous, transporting shoegaze guitar and Victoria Legrand’s languid, hazy vocals.

“The Traveller” appears on Thank Your Lucky Stars, out now via Sub Pop.

So far, all of Beach House’s albums have required you to give up a part of yourself to fully appreciate them. They’re sweeping, broad swaths of emotion for the listener to project their feelings onto. They come along every two years or three, There was Devotion and Teen Dream  two years later, Bloom came about just as I was feeling restless and wondering what to do,  next came Depression Cherry, that record represented loss, and the blood-red anger and pain that results from it. Up until this point, all of Beach House’s albums have inspired a deep, justified, and personal emotional response. But it’s hard to go to that well twice in such a short period of time. There’s only so much of yourself that you can give over. “Thank Your Lucky Stars” comes to us on completely different terms than any Beach House record so far. Evaluating and investing in it feels clinical in a way that the band never has before.

Most of that feeling probably has to do with the back-to-back release schedule. Digging into TYLS requires a bit more parsing than usual: Is it a companion record? A B-sides collection? A surprise, even though they insist that it’s not? In a few years, separated from this context, I expect the record will solidly stand on its own. It’s too good of an album not to. But, for right now, it’s impossible not to weigh Beach House’s two most recent albums against one another, down to their nine-track by nine-track structures: “Somewhere Tonight” doesn’t reach the elegiac, choral-assisted highs of “Days Of Candy” as a closer; “Levitation” has more of a backbone than “Majorette”; “One Thing” and “The Traveller” are stronger pivot points than their Depression Cherry counterparts. These comparisons are inevitable, unfortunately. Beach House invite them, releasing such similar records so close to each other. Beach House albums always seemed to arrive organically, right when they’re needed. But this is the first time that one doesn’t feel so necessary.

It doesn’t help that a band so often accused of always sounding the same decided to put out two new albums in as many months. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have always progressed in micro-shifts, and leaving so little distance between these records highlights that fact. Over a longer period of time, their consistency and sameness is a comfort. But jutting up against each other like this, it can also be interpreted as an inability to adapt. They’ve always bordered on becoming a caricature: There’s the same old Beach House metronome that’s in every song, ticking away like a clock toward irrelevancy. We tend to crave forward motion in our art, but the duo pushes against that desire, sometimes frustratingly so.

So, of course, TYLS doesn’t sound much different from what we’ve come to expect from the Baltimore duo. But they do make good on a promise: When introducing Depression Cherry — before we even knew Thank Your Lucky Stars was on the horizon — Beach House said it hearkened back to an earlier sound, invoking the soft and comforting lo-fi touches of their self-titled debut and Devotion. But when Depression Cherry arrived in the summer, I was disappointed that it ended up being more in line with Teen Dream and Bloom than they had made it out to be. I wanted something, anything, to switch up the formula that they had perfected over the years. In hindsight, though, it seems so obvious that they were talking about this record, because it so distinctly connects to their roots. That’s what makes TYLS a valuable contribution to Beach House’s discography, not just an also-ran: It finds a way to marry the dramatic backdrops of their last three records with the more straightforward, to-the-point nature of their beginnings.

When Beach House are chugging ahead at full-steam, they avoid traditional verse-chorus-verse structure altogether. Their songs are giant moods, splashes of feeling and flow. But the tracks on Thank Your Lucky Stars don’t operate like that — they regress, but in a satisfying way. They feel graspable and grounded in a way that the band hasn’t since their outset. You can reach out and touch these songs, see how they work. It makes the duo seem more human, and gives them more of a personality than they’ve ever had before. Here, they’re more interested in telling their own stories than letting us paint in the details of our own problems.

In announcing the new album, the band made sure to mention that the songs on TYLS were written after all of the ones on DC, even though they were recorded around the same time. I think that’s where the divide between the two albums starts to become apparent: One is the head and the other is the heart. DC is more Scally’s work — look at the labored, heavy set pieces of “PPP” and “10:37″ and “Sparks.” These shoegaze-inspired tracks emphasize the technical element of Beach House’s sound. That’s the head. But TYLS highlights the emotional — it’s like Legrand used up everything she had on DC and dug deeper than she ever has before. So, while their world-building is still as pristine as ever, Thank Your Lucky Stars is the first Beach House record that feels like it has a perspective. And the perspective that comes through so strongly is Legrand’s. (In fact, this is the first time I ever started to wonder what a solo record from her would sound like.)

It’s a lucky twist of fate that news of the record leaked out with the lyrics sheets first, because those are more important this time around. Honestly, I’m not sure I ever really paid much attention to the words in Beach House’s songs before Thank Your Lucky Stars. Outside of their big, climactic platitudes — “I’d take care of you,” “Then it comes again, just like a spark,” “Was it ever quite enough?” — the lyrics always felt, if not secondhand, then just a much smaller component of a larger picture: a means to an end, a note to a feeling. Legrand would stretch her syllables beyond recognition, so the meaning would blend in rather than stick out. There’s still a lot of that here, but there are also significant sections where it’s clear that the arrangements take a backseat to the story. Thank Your Lucky Stars puts the words front-and-center more than ever, and to great effect. “Would I be acting up/ If I said it’s not enough?” she asks on “The Traveller,” and later on: “Would I be acting up/ If I said not that much?” Legrand’s weighing her options between coming to the forefront or continuing to hang out behind the curtain — both are viable, but TYLS commits to the former.

Legrand creates honest-to-god characters and plots on this album, evocative and dynamic portraits of hyper-specific situations. On “Common Girl” — whose syncopated beat is lifted nearly straight from Devotion’s “Wedding Bell” — she snapshots the titular tragic figure with clarity: “She makes movies where she cries on cue,” “She’s the one with the lazy eye.” “Rough Song” chronicles the whirlwind of a drunken family party that begs for escape: “Hard to hear she spit on you and made your bloody nose more bloody/ Shut the door, she’ll have no more/ Another vodka cocktail party.” Or on “One Thing,” where they commit to what I’m pretty sure is their first F-bomb: “You’re always out of reach/ The faces in the secondhand/ A little fuck off kiss.” The band even reaches #peak Beach House with “Elegy To The Void,” a title which is as winking and self-aware as they’ve been willing to get. “All Your Yeahs,” with its conversational lead-off, displays more of that potency with one of the most anthemic and optimistic paeans the duo has crafted yet: “It’s your life/ Do you right/ Give them love.”

Thank Your Lucky Stars is littered with this kind of striking and poetic energy. It layers itself through the album and, coupled with their more straitlaced approach to song construction, in many ways TYLS stands as the band’s most accessible work yet. What they lose in mystique, they gain in tangibility. Even the title of the record and the artwork — the first to feature an entirely visible face in frame — provides us more of an established story than the rest. If TYLS is any indication, the duo is shifting away from being just a screen waiting to be filled with other people’s memories. I wish I had more of myself to give up to it, but it seems like Beach House are compensating for that by putting in a lot more of themselves.

Beach_House-2015-Thank_Your_Lucky_Stars_cover_med_res

Last week, Beach House announced release of a second album within a few months  Thank Your Lucky Stars, their follow-up to August’s Depression Cherry that’s coming out this Friday. the band’s website is streaming several cuts from Thank Your Lucky Stars through a Single Finder function. To hear the new tracks, pick your three favorite Beach House songs to date. The website will play “She’s So Lovely”, “One Thing”, or “Majorette”, based on the songs you select.

Beach House also have the Setlist Creator section of their website, which allows fans to influence setlists by making three special requests.

The saga of Thank Your Lucky Stars—the surprise second Beach House record of 2015—started two days ago on the Beach House subreddit, where a sharp-eyed superfan noticed that the band’s site was hosting lyrics and images that appeared to be companion material for a new release (those posts have since been taken down, but you can view captures of the lyrics and images in the comments of the original thread here). Whether or not the band intended to reveal everything at this point isn’t clear, but they have since gone on to confirm and detail the upcoming release, which is out October 16th, and follows less than two months after the stellar Depression Cherry.

In addition to the track listing and cover (which are below), the band has also noted via Facebook that the album is up for preorder already, as baffling as that is to comprehend given the three-to-six month turnaround needed for a major vinyl release. They also went on to detail the album as such:

It was recorded at the same time as “Depression Cherry”, but for us, it’s very much a different record. All of its songs were written after the DC songs. Along the way we realized that we didn’t want it to be released in the traditional manner. Mainly, we just wanted our listeners to hear it first. We will have more info later……

On Twitter, the band has noted that Thank Your Lucky Stars is “not a companion to depression cherry or a surprise of b-sides.” Sure, sure. We’ve heard that one before.

Thank Your Lucky Stars track list

1. Majorette
2. She’s So Lovely
3. All Your Yeahs
4. One Thing
5. Common Girl
6. The Traveller
7. Elegy to the Void
8. Rough Song
9. Somewhere Tonight

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