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Video of the Moment #1642: The Antlers

 
By on Monday, 29th September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

The latest promo video from American band The Antlers is for ‘Refuge’, from their current album ‘Familiars’, out now on Transgressive Records. The moody, atmospheric song, including Peter Silberman’s dreamy vocals, pairs nicely with the purposely abstract, gently pulsating visuals in the promo. Watch the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccc1khxoY2o[/youtube]

 

Live Review: The Antlers with Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – 17th July 2014

 
By on Monday, 21st July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Barely 2 weeks after arriving in a new town, having relocated from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the Desert Southwest, I found myself becoming further acquainted with the western end of Interstate Highway 10, driving the 2 hours from Tucson to downtown Phoenix to see The Antlers at the Crescent Ballroom. It seemed fitting that my first trip to a new venue also involved two bands who were both relatively new to me. I discovered The Antlers at the recommendation of our own editor Mary, who asked me to review their recent album ‘Familiars’. (As usual, her sense of what might be my cup of tea was correct. Read the review here, if you haven’t already.) Support act Thus Owls, was completely unfamiliar, except for a quick glance at their Facebook page before I set out for the evening.

Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom 17 July 2014

Montreal-based Thus Owls is a Canadian-Swedish hybrid based around husband and wife pair Erika and Simon Angell, who are, respectively, Swedish and Canadian. The band’s name is admittedly a bit of an enigma, and Erika Angell took several occasions to remind her audience of it, assuring us that it made sense in their minds when they chose it. Their sound is an appealing blend of fragile Scandinavian etherealism and weightier guitar rock, focused around Mrs. Angell’s delicately beautiful singing voice and flavored with dashes of interesting instrumentation, including one percussion instrument that I was unable to identify.

Erika Angell and percussion instrument

Thus Owls’ set consisted almost exclusively of songs from their newest album ‘Turning Rocks’, beginning with the title track. The only exception was the exquisite art song ‘I Weed My Garden’, from 2012 album ‘Harbours’, where Mrs. Angell took the opportunity to display her singing voice its fullest effect. She mentioned near the end of the set that the songs on ‘Turning Rocks’ were inspired by stories her grandmother had told her, specifically closing tracks ‘As Long As We Try A Little’ and ‘Smoke Like Birds’. (If you’re interested, ‘Turning Rocks’ was released worldwide in April on Secret City Records and is available on Spotify.)

The audience at the Crescent Ballroom had gradually filled in during Thus Owls’ eight songs, and where I had enjoyed a comfortable amount of personal space at the beginning of the show, I was packed in tight by the time The Antlers took the stage. The hipster college crowd was clearly more familiar with the headline act than I was, judging from the snippets of conversation I overheard, including one person’s self-proclaimed confession that she was “a sucker for a concept album”. She had well and truly come to the right place.

The Antlers opened their set with the opening 3 tracks from the current album ‘Familiars’. The expansive ‘Palace’ was quite literally breathtaking, and from there the band swept without pretense into ‘Doppelgänger’ and my personal favorite groove, ‘Hotel’. I was a little surprised to hear ‘Hotel’ so early in the set, but it turned out that ‘Familiars’ would be more than adequately represented later on.

Peter Silberman of The Antlers 17 July 2014

The set touched on The Antlers’ back catalogue in the middle of the show, including ‘Drift Dive’ from the 2012 EP ‘Undersea’ and 3 songs from their breakthrough album ‘Hospice’: ‘Kettering’, ‘Sylvia’ and a particularly moving performance of ‘Epilogue’. The band played straight through most of the set list without banter, except for the occasional “thank you” from frontman Peter Silberman. They were very deliberate about the proceedings, apparently intending their set to be a continuous sort of Gesamtkunstwerk à la German Romantic composer Richard Wagner.

Unfortunately, the youthful audience were antsy to hear their favorite hit tunes, and a bit of heckling interrupted the flow. A beautiful flute interlude by touring member Kelly Pratt was marred by a punter’s mocking, and multi-instrumentalist Darby Cicci was enthusiastically complimented on his “amazing” hair. Silberman eventually gave in and acknowledged the distractions, sensing, I assume, that this was the only way to make them stop.

Kelly Pratt with The Antlers 17 July 2014

The set proper was symmetrically bookended by the 3 closing tracks from ‘Familiars’, played through without interruption and building to a massive climax at the end. It wasn’t really until this point that I noticed the intensity of Michael Lerner’s drumming, and I was struck again by the sensitivity of his performance in songs that could easily be overwhelmed by too much percussion. All four musicians created a spot-on delivery of the arrangements that worked so beautifully on the album, particularly the extensive brass, which was shared between Pratt and Cicci on either side of the stage.

Darby Cicci of The Antlers 17 July 2014

After the aforementioned heckling, I wasn’t 100% sure that the band would play an encore, but as it turned out, the songs that the crowd had been yelling out for were reserved for last. ‘I Don’t Want Love’ and ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’, both from 2011 LP ‘Burst Apart’, were the best received songs of the night, even inspiring a bit of singing along from the more dedicated fans at the front of the stage. I didn’t know the lyrics myself, but I found myself succumbing to Silberman’s darkly emotive singing and making a mental note to listen back to the older songs that had brought The Antlers here in the first place.

The Antlers at Crescent Ballroom 17 July 2014

After the cut: the Antlers’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Antlers with Thus Owls at Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ – 17th July 2014

 

Album Review: The Antlers – Familiars

 
By on Monday, 16th June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s been 3 years since The Antlers released their highly acclaimed LP ‘Burst Apart’ (reviewed by TGTF here), and while that album cut a stark thematic contrast with its predecessor, 2009’s ‘Hospice’, the band’s latest release ‘Familiars’ is a slightly more subtle departure in sound. Rather than a complete change in direction, ‘Familiars’ is more of a refinement of the band’s musical intent. Lyrically solipsistic, the songs here have a distinctly existential feel, and their sonic ambience is stretched out over vast, exploratory instrumental soundscapes.

It’s always difficult to make assumptions about a songwriter’s intentions when he hasn’t specifically stated them, but these lyrics almost certainly center around some kind of major life change, whether real or fictional, personal or observed. Throughout ‘Familiars’, Peter Silberman’s characteristically introspective lyrics are sparse and impressionistic, nebulously evocative rather than emotionally explicit. Even the song titles are obliquely allusive, each consisting of just a single word. Their hazy minimalism is remarkably effective given that all of the tracks are over 5 minutes in length, with the exception of ‘Refuge’, which comes in just shy.

Musically, the songs have a dreamy, groove-based ambience, heavily flavored with artfully dynamic brass. The percussion is likewise sensitive throughout the album, never overwhelming the delicacy of Silberman’s soft falsetto vocals. However, Silberman extends his own dynamic range here with more full-voice singing here than he has done in the past. There are a lot of gloriously singable vocal lines to go along with the swelling instrumental interludes, and Silberman takes full advantage of them, especially on mid-album tracks ‘Director’ and ‘Parade’.

The album’s opening tracks are irresistibly hypnotic, drawing the listener into their lyrical self-examination. First single ‘Palace’ is an inviting opening track featuring lush keyboards and poignant brass melodies. Silberman’s falsetto vocals underscore the beauty of the poetic lyrics, “Now he hangs your mirrors separately / so one can’t see what the other reflects”.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/E9afJSKCOQQ[/youtube]

The jazz harmonies and plaintive horns in ‘Doppelgänger’ reflect a sort of Jekyll and Hyde take on the hidden side of the self, while ‘Hotel’ examines the transient anonymity of travel and spending time alone with oneself. Its vocal line “In the hotel, I can’t remember how the past felt / But in a strange bed, I keep sleeping with my past self” cuts through the steamy ambient haze of the instrumental groove, highlighting the metaphorical moment of clarity in its lyrics. (Have a listen to ‘Hotel’ here, in Mary’s earlier Video of the Moment feature.)

Closing track ‘Refuge’ is the most positive and optimistic song on the album. Its brief, repeated lyrics and simplified song structure bring to rest the uncertainty and doubt of all the previous soul-searching. Its final lines “It’s not our house that we remember / 
It’s a feeling outside it when everyone’s gone but we leave all the lights on anyway” are something of a comfort if not a complete resolution.

The expansive structures and impressionistic imagery on ‘Familiars’ create the kind of sonic mood that could easily fade into the background, but the harmonic variety and moments of clarity in the vocals save it from being bland. The songs do run together a bit toward the end of the album, but overall this works as a cohesive record, demonstrating the deliberate contemplation of Silberman’s songwriting and the refinement of The Antlers’ sound.

8/10

‘Familiars’, the fourth studio album from The Antlers, is out today on Transgressive Records.

 

The Antlers / October and November 2014 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Friday, 13th June 2014 at 8:30 am
 

Brooklyn trio The Antlers will release their fourth studio album ‘Familiars’ on Monday, the 16th of June, on Transgressive Records. In support of the release, the band have announced a set of autumn tour dates through the UK and Ireland following their summer tour of North America. Tickets for the following dates are available now.

For previous TGTF coverage on the Antlers, go here.

Wednesday 22nd October 2014 – Brighton Old Market
Thursday 23rd October 2014 – Birmingham Oobleck
Friday 24th October 2014 – London Hackney Empire
Monday 27th October 2014 – Bristol Trinity
Thursday 30th October 2014 – Dublin Olympia
Friday 31st October 2014 – Manchester Ritz
Saturday 1st November 2014 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Sunday 2nd November 2014 – Leeds Belgrave Music Hall

 

Video of the Moment #1542: The Antlers

 
By on Monday, 9th June 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been some time since we’ve written about the Antlers, but they’ve resurfaced ahead of their next album release. ‘Familiars’ is out the 16th of June on Transgressive Records, but here’s one of the first reveals from the LP. Past Antlers output, led by singer Peter Silberman’s haunting lyrics, has been of the contemplative, depressing and woozy variety, and ‘Hotels’ is no exception. Watch the promo below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ynkp1VHwbHg[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #685: The Antlers

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd October 2012 at 10:00 am
 

The Antlers released the ‘Undersea’ EP in July, and here is a remix of a song off the EP, for ‘Crest’. Surprisingly, it’s by Tricky and if the story from RCRD LBL is correct, they met in Lisbon over a malfunctioning coffee press and then came up with the idea of Tricky reimagining this song. Listen to and download the track below.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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