Beach House and Kurt Vile light up a lively weekend at Fernwood in Big Sur.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The dream-pop, Baltimore duo Beach House – headlining Friday night’s show at Fernwood – added an extra tour date just to play in Big Sur. The band played Sur back in ’07 at the Festival in the Forest and has been chasing that high ever since.
“Big Sur was like nothing I imagined it to be,” says guitarist Alex Scally. “It was better than I ever imagined.”
Scally’s velvety slide guitar and Victoria Legrand’s droned-out organ have been taking the indie-music scene by storm since their self-titled debut in 2006. In 2008, their follow-up album, Devotion, earned them even more accolades: The record received high ratings from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media. Recently, Beach House signed with the Seattle-based alt-rock record label Sub Pop, and embarked on what Scally calls the band’s best work yet.
“We spent tons of money [on the album],” Scally says. “We had a lot more time to make sure every take was perfect. On Devotion, we had less than 10 days and our first album we did in three days.”
The album, recorded in one month in a converted church in upstate New York, is due out in January 2010.
Legrand and Scally remain humble despite Beach House’s international success and a deal with one of the most sought-after record labels.
“You have to continue to give in to your creative urges,” Scally says. “You can’t get comfortable,”
The Fresh and Only’s, Ganglian and Inner Beauty also play on Friday.
Kurt Vile, another musician receiving widespread accolades, headlines at Fernwood on Saturday night. The opening song on Vile’s 2008 CD Constant Hitmaker, “Freeway,” comes on like a classic rock road song slyly subverted with diffused, spaced-out music over a drum machine’s beat.
After years of making low-fi recordings in his home and the houses of his friends, Vile decided to do “Freeway” differently by cutting the song in a real studio. To save money for the session, the 29-year-old up-and-coming songwriter had to work at a Pennsylvania brewery bottling beer and driving a forklift seven days a week.
Finally in the studio, Vile was overcome by self-doubt. “I was real paranoid in there,” he says. “I was afraid of singing. I always get paranoid in general, but it was my first good studio experience.”
The resulting song, one of the standouts on the excellent Constant Hitmaker, helped Vile get signed with Matador Records, the great indie label that is home to acts like Sonic Youth, Cat Power and Yo La Tengo which just released his impressive Childish Prodigy. The new one includes the big dark rocker “Hunchback,” which proves he can make a racket, and “Overnite Religion,” an acoustic track seasoned with the sounds of a shaker and Vile’s disembodied vocals. “Freak Train,” meanwhile, finds the eclectic musician singing and whooping above a smeared electronic beat and ambient noise.
Vile says he already has tons of songs for a follow-up album including acoustic numbers and “crazy stuff.” “Imagine ‘Freak Train’ but a little looser, crazy, like synthy guitar tones with me going nuts over top,” he says. “It just doesn’t make sense. Maybe, one day, I’ll put it out to weird people out.”
Sam Flax and Higher Colors, Birds Fled From Me, Sparrows Gate and Persephone’s Bee Unplugged also play.
BEACH HOUSE performs at 8:30pm Friday, Oct. 23; KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS perform at 8:30pm Saturday, Oct. 24 at Fernwood, Highway 1, Big Sur. $15-$15.50/show. 667-2422.