Union Transfer

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

Steve Gunn & The Outliners (Record Release Show!)

WXPN 88.5 Welcomes ...

Steve Gunn & The Outliners (Record Release Show!)

Nap Eyes, Spacin'

Sat, July 9, 2016

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00

This event is all ages

Steve Gunn
Steve Gunn
People have written about roads for as long as they’ve been around. And before there were roads, they still wrote about travel and about landscape. Landscape is the stage upon which our greatest experiences and desires play out. Steve Gunn’s music has always embraced expanse and movement. It springs from the simple and profound relationship between humans and their environment. Eyes On The Lines is his most explicit ode to the blissful uncertainty of adventure yet.

Gunn’s roots in the underground run deep, from his days in GHQ to his collaborations with Black Twig Pickers and Mike Cooper. He’s toured and recorded with Michael Chapman, and released two remarkable duo albums with drummer John Truscinski. His solo ventures, emerging over the past decade and culminating most recently the highly-acclaimed Way Out Weather, have been pastoral, evocative affairs. Here he embraces his urban surroundings through a series of songs that fully showcase his extraordinary ability to match hooks to deftly constructed melodies. Gunn is a consummate guitarist, that rare fingerpicker who can harness the enigma of the American Primitive vernacular without lazily regurgitating it. His playing is inventive and full of personality. His instrumental virtuosity calls upon a vast library of technical skills at will, but he’s never showy — his riffs and runs are always in the service of the song at hand.

And what a pleasure to have this music presented to the wider public.

This song cycle melds thoughtful inquisitiveness with poetic reflection, fully embracing rhythmic uplift, allowing personal stories and impressions to live their own lives on their own terms. Gunn is more narrator than diarist; he pours real-life moments and real-life people into vibrant and evocative tales. Dreams and encounters spiral out – they form their own dramas and illuminate their own truths. Indeed, Eyes On The Lines works like a book of the finest short stories, its songs interlocking with an urgent necessity, forming an ever-questioning whole. In Gunn’s own words: “The music isn’t about me. It’s about characters, either real or fictional. It’s about images.”
And what are lines if not one of the foundational aspects of images? Lines on the road draw one’s attention to the lines comprising the landscape. Gunn’s music runs ahead and twists – like time, like the road itself. Guitar lines are highway lines are lines carved by the view out the window are the lines one waits in to get a quick meal on the way from one destination to another are lines one draws in the van to stay amused. It’s good to be out on the road and it’s good to be home, and each feeds into the other. This record sees lines run together and leap across one another.

He’s honest about the necessity of being comfortable in being lost. His music values the unknown, so it is always born of the present. We lose ourselves to find ourselves. With all of this comes humility. And gratitude. Listen to “Nature Driver,” a statement of thankfulness for the generosity of the plethora of kind souls who welcome travelers into their homes.

“Ancient Jules,” which opens the record, is a travel fantasy of a different sort. Built around a head-nodding motif, the song bobs and weaves its way through a tale which foregrounds the surprising joy that can come with a break – a deep sigh in the midst of an onrush, punctuated by the finest example of Gunn’s electric soloing to emerge yet. A song like “Conditions Wild” also rambles through strange clouds of roving. Interlocking strings, percussion, and vocals join in an irrepressible rush. This record is like that – the songs get lodged in one’s head because they’re catchy, but their atmosphere sends the mind reeling into memory and mystery.

These are songs you can take in quickly, but spend all the time in the world devouring. The very large and the very small are present in equal measure. The inability to categorize them within the avalanche of impotent diatribes that pass for categorization is a testament to their power.

Stories give us ways to discover meaning. They provide us with signposts – when we recognize our own lives within them, we clarify our existence. “Far from the world is the mystic fool,” Gunn sings on the opening track. The fool may be far from the world, but that doesn’t matter. The so-called fool is jacked in to the cosmos.

Matt Krefting
Holyoke, MA 2016
Nap Eyes
Nap Eyes
Hailing from Nova Scotia, Nap Eyes makes crooked, literate guitar pop refracted through the gray Halifax rain. Recorded live to tape with no overdubs, their songs are equal parts shambling and sophisticated, with one eye on the dirt and one trained on the starry firmament, inhabiting a skewed world where odes to NASA and the Earth's magnetic field coexist easily with lyrics about insomnia and drinking too much.

In the world of Nap Eyes, workaday details punctuate (and puncture) cosmic concerns, as songwriter, singer, and rhythm guitarist Nigel Chapman wrestles with air and angels, struggling (and often failing) to reconcile the Romantic rifts, both real and imagined, that define our lives: between chaos and order; solipsism and fellowship; the anxiety of social (dis)orders both big and small; and the various intersections and oppositions of religion, art, and science. The latter three collapsing categories ring particularly relevant for Chapman, a biochemist who spends his weekdays in a research lab, mutating the gene/DNA encoding of a cell-surface receptor protein. As with us all, our diurnal labor and studies inform our creativity, day creeps into night, and so it's no surprise that sicknesses of "brain protein aggregation" and "up-regulated oncogene" appear in Nap Eyes songs, infecting, by proximity, the more traditionally songwriterly tropes of heart sickness. The songs resonate because they manage to delicately balance the cryptic and the quotidian, rendering a compellingly honest equivocation without evasiveness, a relatable ambivalence without apathy.

In typically insular Halifax music scene fashion, Nap Eyes shares three of its four members-Josh Salter (bass), Seamus Dalton (drums), and Brad Loughead (lead guitar)-with two other notable local bands, kindred spirits and sometime touring partners Monomyth (Josh and Seamus's project) and Each Other (which includes Brad as well as Nap Eyes recording engineer Mike Wright.) They're old friends who have collaborated in various configurations over the past decade; Nigel and Brad met in high school at rock and roll camp. Though the indelibly wistful vocal melodies are Nigel's, Josh, Seamus, and Brad are the primary architects of Nap Eyes' keen sonic signature, which cruises briskly and beautifully along the dog-eared axes of jangle-jaded Oceanic pop music (The Clean, The Verlaines, The Go-Betweens), and through the backpages of Peter Perrett (The Only Ones, England's Glory) and Nikki Sudden (Swell Maps, Jacobites), via all things Lou Reed and Modern Lovers, without ever sounding very much like anything else happening today.

Part of the secret of Nap Eyes may reside in their avowed recording method, which eschews any overdubs in favor of capturing the immediacy and singularity of full-band live performances. Nigel explains their methodology best: "You get the feeling of the song; everyone's feeling, all as one take in time, so things fit together naturally, and even mistakes sound natural. This not to discredit any of the incredible recordings made by different principles; it's just its own kettle of fish." As a result, both lyrically and musically, the music of Nap Eyes articulates the urgency of youthful grace. It's the sound of being young and alive in the city, a tenuous and impermanent counterpoise of recklessness and anxiety, archness and earnestness.

Following the July 2015 reissue of their 2014 debut Whine of the Mystic-available in Canada from You've Changed Records and in the rest of the world from Paradise of Bachelors-Nap Eyes released an album of all-new material entitled Thought Rock Fish Scale in early 2016. The critically acclaimed album, described by Pitchfork as "brimming with passion and protest," was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize.
Spacin'
Spacin'
Spacin' is what Spacin' does.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123