BOOT & SADDLE

1131 S. Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Strand Of Oaks: Winter Classic 2017

WXPN 88.5 Welcomes..

Strand Of Oaks: Winter Classic 2017

Slaughter Beach, Dog

Fri, December 8, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA

$18.00

Sold Out

This event is 21 and over

Strand Of Oaks
Strand Of Oaks
Hard Love, Tim Showalter's latest release as Strand of Oaks, is a record that explores the balancing act between overindulgence and accountability. Recounting Showalter's decadent tour experiences, his struggling marriage, and the near death of his younger brother, Hard Love emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. "For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that's constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that's naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It's about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated."
During some much-needed downtime following the release of his previous album, Heal, Showalter began writing Hard Love and found himself in a now familiar pattern of tour exhaustion, chemically-induced flashbacks, and ongoing domestic turmoil. Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane's Addiction, and informed by a particularly wild time at Australia's Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. Showalter's first attempt at recording the album led to an unsatisfying result-a fully recorded version of Hard Love that didn't fully achieve the ambitious sounds he heard in his head. He realized that his vision for the album demanded collaboration, and enlisted producer Nicolas Vernhes, who helped push him into making the most fearless album of his career.
Throughout the recording process, both Showalter and Vernhes maintained an environment that paired musical experimentation with a mindset that defied Showalter's previous studio endeavors: the atmosphere had to be loose, a celebration of the creative process and a reinforcement of the record's core themes. "In a time of calculation and overthinking, I wanted to bring back the raw, impulsive nature that is the DNA of so many records I love." And in keeping with that loose, hedonistic vibe that encompasses so much of Hard Love, Showalter looked to his best friend, Jason Anderson, whose musical prowess and expert shredding augmented the unrelenting energy that would become the record's backbone.
This uninhibited and collaborative studio experience led to the most dynamic album in Strand of Oaks discography, moving beyond Showalter's original concept for a singularly feel-good record to something more complex and real. For as much as Showalter wants this record to seem like a party, it's more than that. It feels like living. "You went away...you went searching...came back tired of looking" is how Showalter begins the title track, a sentiment that epitomizes Showalter's own mentality in beginning Hard Love. And as the record progresses, so do the themes of dissatisfaction and frustration with love, and family, and success, and aging, both in personal experience and songwriting.
"Radio Kids," Showalter's infectious, synth-driven ode to youth and a time when music represented something pure and uncomplicated, perfectly encapsulates his desire for escapism from both his adult responsibilities and a world he no longer recognizes. But if there's a sun in the Hard Love solar system, it's "On the Hill," a psychedelic, celebratory homage to three days in the excesses of that mind-altering Boogie Festival. "On the Hill" captures the true zeitgeist of how Showalter wants this record to feel. "It's like I had to fly across the world to find out who I was...it was all about getting loose, and connecting with people on a primordial level... letting go of all the bad things, losing your inhibitions, and figuring out what it means to be alive." The accumulating intensity that Showalter crafts throughout this flagship track seems to effortlessly achieve an almost hallucinogenic ambiance, with images of lighters being lifted, concert-goers embracing, and the magnitude of the moment eliciting nothing less than mass euphoria.
And then, there's "Cry."
"Eventually there's this crushing reality of what it means to hurt someone, what you did to hurt someone...you're not the victim anymore, it's not romantic, it's not a narrative...you just realize you're the cause of problems." This noticeable shift in the tone of Hard Love-a heartbreaking, piano-laden ballad with the chorus "Hey...you're making me cry"-is a sobering reality check in Showalter's universe. And as Showalter struggles to reconcile his youthful desires with the realities of adulthood, we're eventually led into the final death rattle of his pervasive partying, "Rest of It." With its loud, raucous arrangement of sing-along vocals and searing guitars solos, "Rest of It" emerges as Hard Love's flawless manifestation of an exceedingly fun, belligerently drunk night where you try to forego life's responsibilities and have one more good time.
Much of Hard Love was either written or conceptualized during Showalter's post-tour break, as he reveled in the memory of what he considered to be life-changing experiences. But it was during this period that he received devastating news: his younger brother, Jon, had suffered massive cardiac failure. "He was 27 years old at the time...it happened out of nowhere. I flew out to Indiana and stayed in the hospital for almost two weeks. They said he had a 10% chance of surviving and they had to induce a coma to prevent brain damage. Sometimes he would start to wake up and look me in the eyes...it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But he got better. That's all that matters." In so many ways, it only seems fitting that Showalter's psychedelic journey, his awakening to drug-fueled excess, the loss of inhibitions, the inevitable reality check, and his subsequent last hurrah be capped with his darkest, most life-affirming experience yet. The title of the record's final track, "Taking Acid and Talking With my Brother," represents Showalter's last-ditch attempt at reconciling his personal life and his impulsions, crafting a clear connection between what were previously considered trippy experiences and the now extraordinary surrealism of witnessing his younger brother's medical emergency.
And as Hard Love comes to its conclusion, it becomes that much more obvious that the singer/songwriter has grown to something larger and more momentous, crafting a passionate, brazen, and fully realized rock and roll record that captures the escapism of sex and drugs while offering an equally sincere perspective on the responsibilities, complications, and traumas that punctuate our lives and force us to evolve. "Some records are built like monuments, set in stone...I want this record to be burned in effigy, I want it to be burned in celebration of the limited time we have on this Earth."
Slaughter Beach, Dog
Slaughter Beach, Dog
Few bands can say they were born out of necessity, but Slaughter Beach, Dog can. In 2015, Jake Ewald, in the midst of trying to write songs for his other band Modern Baseball (which has since gone on hiatus), hit a patch of writer’s block. To get himself back in action, Ewald decided to move the focus off of himself, stitching together a loose narrative surrounding a motley cast of characters. Before he knew it, he’d written an entire album, and Slaughter Beach, Dog was no longer an exercise, it was a full-fledged band.

“When I gave myself the specific goal to write these kinds of songs and figure out how to do it, it just broke me open in a way I really needed.” What came pouring out of Ewald was Welcome, a 10-track debut that showed his ability to create a world of his own making, all the while blurring the line between fiction and reality. At times, he’d be singing about people and situations he invented, but the songs were still personal, often informed by experiences deep in his past, excavated for the purpose of expanding his songwriting vocabulary.

Slaughter Beach, Dog’s new album Birdie (October 27 on Lame-O Records) expands upon the framework Ewald built on Welcome and the recent EP Motorcycle .jpg, retaining the hallmarks of Slaughter Beach, Dog while pushing into brave new territories A single listen to Birdie shows how much Ewald has grown as a songwriter, embellishing every detail in his songs without losing his homespun charms.

Where Welcome felt based in rock’s grand tradition, Birdie is at once more expansive and more intimate. Songs ebb and flow in the way of The Weakerthans, still rocking, but in a more scholarly way. “I took [Motorcycle .jpg] as an opportunity to get a little bit weirder than usual,” said Ewald, and it’s clear that the EP was a signpost for where he’d be taking Slaughter Beach, Dog on Birdie. “Gold And Green” sees Ewald skirt the lines between half a dozen genres, creating a song that’s able to mine vintage genres like folk and country in order to make something contemporary. Strumming an acoustic guitar, Ewald spins a narrative flush with details, boasting lyrics that are, depending on your reading, either wildly impressionistic and or plain as day.

Ewald plays into this ambiguity expertly, offering songs that use a lilting bounce to obscure the darkness of the world he’s building. “Fish Fry” is a prime example, utilizing a simple backbeat, a chugging guitar riff, and a ruminative vocal melody, the song allows Ewald to toss out references to his past work for those paying close attention. Much like on Motorcycle .jpg’s “Building The Ark,” Ewald once again finds himself dreaming of a convenience store, inviting fans to dig into his lyrics to unfurl every subplot running beneath his gooey melodies. Similarly, “Acolyte” closes the record but simultaneously opens a door, showing Ewald at his most introspectively ambitious. The song sprawls out, expanding slowly and deliberately, completing Birdie’s arch without providing any definitive answers.

Though Slaughter Beach, Dog may have started as a project for Ewald to get past a mental block, it’s grown into something more. Under this moniker Ewald has built a rich, vibrant world, one that invites thoughtful analysis from fans, and continues to expand past its initial intent. Birdie is bountiful in its scope, with songs that pile on layers of instruments and suck you into the world of Slaughter Beach, Dog. And once you’re there, you never want to leave.
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
http://www.bootandsaddlephilly.com