Union Transfer

1026 SPRING GARDEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123 Ι 215-232-2100

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

Cate Le Bon

Wed, November 2, 2011

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$16.00 - $18.00

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This event is all ages

St. Vincent
St. Vincent
It starts with the creation myth: St. Vincent, naked and alone in the wilderness, startled as the ominous rattle of a snake breaks the silence of her Eden. She realizes she's not alone in the world and breaks into a run, headed towards the uncertainty of the future. It's a lovely and appropriate metaphor to open St. Vincent's self-titled fourth album, except that it literally happened.
 
"It's not a metaphor at all," St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, says of the album's lead track, "Rattlesnake." While visiting a friend's west Texas ranch, she decided to strip away her clothes and fully enjoy the solitude that city life so rarely affords. "I went walking around this great expanse of land. There was no one around so I decided to take my clothes off and immerse myself in nature. I saw holes in the path, but did not put two-and-two together until I heard the rattle and caught a glimpse of the snake."
 
Clark's been moving at a breakneck speed for the past two years, barely stopping to catch her breath amidst a whirlwind of recording and touring. In 2011 she released her third album, 'Strange Mercy,' called "one of the year's best" by the New York Times and "something to behold" by Pitchfork. The record cemented her status as one of her generation's most fearsome and inventive guitarists, earned her the covers of SPIN, Paper, and Under the Radar, performances everywhere from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Fallon to Letterman and Conan, and a year-long sold-out tour of her biggest venues to date around the world. She appeared on the hit IFC series Portlandia and graced the pages of Vogue's coveted September issue. It was during this already monumentally busy time that she completed work with David Byrne on their collaborative album 'Love This Giant,' another critical smash that was dubbed "marvelous" by the New Yorker and "magical" by NPR.   
 
"I finished the ‘Strange Mercy’ tour in Japan and went directly into 'Love This Giant' rehearsals and the subsequent North American tour," says Clark. 
 
At the end of it all, Clark made it clear to everyone in her life, in no uncertain terms, that she needed two weeks to decompress and readjust to life off the road. Time without interruption, without thoughts of albums or tours or festivals or studios. "36 hours later I sent everyone an email saying, 'I'm ready to go again,'" Clark laughs. "I began writing music." 
 
Those songs turned into her most lyrically sophisticated and musically diverse collection to date, meshing distorted, aggressive electric guitars and bold vocal and synthesizer arrangements on top of a relentless rhythm section.
 
"I wanted the groove to be paramount," Clark says of the album, which she arranged and demoed extensively in Austin before heading into the studio in Dallas to record. She enlisted Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and frequent collaborator McKenzie Smith of Midlake to share drum duties, while she returned to producer John Congleton to take the sonic potential they'd only just begun to tap with 'Strange Mercy' into dramatic new territory. "I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.”  

The result is Clark's most gripping work to date. "Bring Me Your Loves" is a frenzied freakout, but even less frantic tracks like "Severed Crossed Fingers" still deliver her trademark blend of the beautiful and surreal. At the heart of all her music, though, lie larger questions about what it means to be human and the ways in which we seek to create meaning in our lives.
 
"Regret" catches her at a moment of immense vulnerability, while "I Prefer Your Love" may be the purest expression of affection she's ever written. "Digital Witness" tackles identity in the era of Instagram, with Clark singing, "If I can't show it / If you can't see me / What's the point of doing anything?"
 
"We are inundated with technology that makes us perpetual spectators," says Clark. "It's not enough to just experience life, we have to document it and show it to other people in order to validate our existence." Clark is quick to admit that she, too, at times falls victim to the impulse, which is part of what fascinates her so much with the idea. "Lyrically, I'm always so interested in how complicated people are and the notion of true ambivalence," she says. "Literally, ambi-valence. Two ways at the same time."
 
Such is the music on 'St. Vincent': charming and alarming, gorgeous and morbid, comforting and uncanny. Four albums into one of music's most compelling careers, Annie Clark is as “ambi-valent” as ever, and she's not slowing down any time soon.
Cate Le Bon
Cate Le Bon
Cate Le Bon hails from Carmarthenshire, rural West Wales and is currently a resident of Highland Park, Los Angeles, having relocated across the Pacific, coinciding with the recording of her new album.

Towards the end of 2012, having completed extensive touring for her previous album, Cyrk, Cate returned to Wales to write the songs that would become Mug Museum. The album was informed by a period of taking stock after bereavement. "Following the death of my maternal Grandmother I felt a very palpable shift in the roles that we'd all become accustomed to within the female line of the family which, for the first time, had me mulling over the importance of my placement and purpose within this female chain," says Le Bon. "The album's theme emerged from and circulates around these maternal familial relationships and this period of calm, lengthy, intent consideration in turn drew other relationships into the Mug Museum."

With Le Bon now relocated to California, Mug Museum was recorded at the recently opened Seahorse Sound studios, Los Angeles. Produced by Noah Georgeson (who is perhaps best known for his work with Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart) and Josiah Steinbrick. Mug Museum is an album that lets in the sunlight and space and relocates the West Wales lilt in Le Bon's voice to an equally apposite West Coast setting. In the studio Le Bon assembled a band of friends from both continents.

Accompanying Le Bon on the recording are the multi instrumentalists Sweet Baboo, H. Hawkline and Nick Murray from White Fence. "I flew H. Hawkline and Sweet Baboo over from Wales who I've had the pleasure of playing alongside for years," she says "I saw White Fence play at the Troubadour last year and was mesmerised by the whole show but especially by Nick Murray's drumming and asked him to play on the album immediately after the gig."

As well as describing the personnel involved in Mug Museum, "Welsh - Californian" is a phrase that captures the album's sound: woozily melodic, dreamily confident and wrapped in a hazy psychedelic gauze. This is a record made with the type of clarity that follows a change in perspective and situation. There is a directness and openness across the ten tracks on Mug Museum that suggest everyone involved had discovered the same lightness of touch and sense of purpose.

"I wrote the majority of the record in the home country but a few songs were finished out here in the run up to recording," says Le Bon "I'm sure Los Angeles has bled into the recordings somehow but exactly how I do not know. There was a calm brutality to making decisions - It all happened very quickly and directly, as it should."
Throughout Mug Museum, Le Bon's voice changes register to great dramatic and emotional effect; on "Duke" and "Cuckoo Through The Walls" these shifts occur during the course of the same song.

Perhaps her voice is at its most startling on "I Wish I Knew", a duet with Perfume Genius, one of the album's most atmospheric tracks and one on which two distinctive personalities and voices combine to produce a performance of rare alchemy. "Last April I toured with Perfume Genius," says Le Bon "I watched him play every single night and not once did my attention waive. I was over the moon when he agreed to come and sing on the album."

From the bewitching circular riff of the album's opener "I Can't Help You" to the closing title track that sees Le Bon accompanied by piano and the occasional burst of double-tacked clarinet, Mug Museum's reflective song writing weaves around a richly detailed framework. Like all museums it is a contemplative space, a personal world that is open to everyone. "A place of weighted hauntings and considered reconciliation, where you resolve and tailor your purpose and significance within your relationships" is how Le Bon describes it. As these ten songs attest, Mug Museum is also a unique and dreamlike edifice and one that has been created by an artist at the height of their powers.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123