Union Transfer




Young man

Thu, March 8, 2012

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

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

"The first 16 years of my life I spent a lot of time around lakes. You see... I get quite passionate about things for a time, like reservoirs."

The passion, the obsession, the dissolution of intellectual rigour; heart and longing colliding with mind and matter; these are the recurrent themes of Fanfarlo. As aging instruments are brought back to life with a creaking aching beauty, a bizarre collection of characters join our midst, each an accidental Fanfarlo metaphor - the irrational pursuit of an otherwise intellectual mind. Case in point: Howard Hughes' decent into madness in "I'm A Pilot;" the delusion of Pellegrino Ernetti in "The Walls Are Coming Down" and the absurd writing career of "Harold T. Wilkins," all sweep from sweet murmuring melodia to orchestral pop.

Again and again the UK five-piece find ways to mirror the impotent fury of the words. Members Cathy Lucas (violin, keyboard, vox), Justin Finch (bass) and Amos Memon (drums) and Leon Beckenham (trumpet, keyboard) all conspire to ensure that Fanfarlo eschew a defining format. Reaching for less than obvious conclusions to musical conundrums: saws, clarinets, cellos, mandolins, ukuleles, melodicas, hands clapping and feet stomping.

There is no doubt that all of Fanfarlo are clever, bookish coves, but when they come together to make music, they function on a gut level. For a band that comes from all over - frontman Simon Balthazar (vocals) is himself from Gothenburg - there is that restless, furtive artistry. A keenness to avoid the constraints of home, battling with the longing of the heart, the distant locations of a burning house "Fire Escape;" a drowning village "Ghosts;" and the uneasy sensations of urban sprawl, "Luna."

Trapped and spiraling guitars, an insistently hammered piano chord, or an ominous stomp, the fervour with which they play is stirring and infectious... Fanfarlo Baudelaire's fictional dancer, impossibly desirable, an inescapable object of obsession.

"I always try to write accessible lyrics that people will get and understand, but it always ends up impenetrable," explains Fanfarlo frontman Simon Balthazar, "then I attempt to write deep, serious and difficult music, and somehow it keeps coming out as pop."

It is a nice problem to have and Fanfarlo benefit greatly. The wonderfully bewildering array of characters and scenes on Reservoir, comes laden with memorable hooks. Recorded over a month and a half with Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) at his home studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, it is has been a formative process for the band.

Fanfarlo's early singles, combined with winning live performances had proved a sensation in the blogosphere, both in Europe and in the US. But as good as those singles first seemed; Talking Backwards (Fortuna Pop), You Are One Of The Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us (Fandango), Fire Escape (White Heat) and Harold T.Wilkins (Felt Tip), it was as nought to the leaps and bounds made in those few shorts weeks in New England.

Working with Peter was the first opportunity to properly explore what this full band could achieve. Cathy Lucas - the bearer of Fanfarlo's distinctive accompanying vocals - is convinced of the new ground the band has occupied, "Peter would find the right sound straight away and I started thinking that it could become much more than just a series of songs..."

"I always thought big with this band" enthuses Simon. "Wanting to make music that everyone would love, which always seemed like a realistic expectation, given the response we got to our live performances... it's an amazing relief to be able to say, yes, this is what it should sound like."
Young man
Young man
It's enough to make you stop and say, "What is that?" It being the gorgeous melodies and lean, spellbound guitar lines of Colin Caulfield, an English/French Lit major who's about to change what it means to be a shape-shifting singer-songwriter in the YouTube age.

Just ask Bradford Cox. He knows. Why, just a year ago, the Deerhunter frontman stumbled upon Caulfield's organ-grinding rendition of "Rainwater Cassette Exchange" and said it's "fantastically superior to the original. It actually sent shivers up my spine, especially during the second verse."

Believe it or not, that chilling cover was just a warmup session. As killer as he is at capturing the very essence of everything from Animal Collective to Ariel Pink, Caulfied's true talent is in telling his own Young Man stories. The first chapter of which goes by the name Boy, a deceivingly simple suite of songs about wanting to grow up without having the slightest idea of what "being a man" actually means.

Now that's a reason to hit rewind, from the tone-setting tenderness and psych-infused harmonies of "Five" to the restless rhythms (Caulfield was a drummer well before he became a singer/guitarist) and room-engulfing intimacy of "Up So Fast." Both of which feature some of the most hopeful/haunting choruses you'll hear all year.

And that's just the beginning, of course. Since Young Man was conceived as a concept project about the passing of time, love, and loss, Caulfield already has two loosely- linked LPs on tap—a faceless collection of fragile characters that could be any one of us, really.

"A lot of it's autobiographical," explains Caulfield, "but it's universal at the same time, because everyone goes through these things."

Listen closely. It'll all make sense soon enough. Trust us."
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123