BOOT & SADDLE

1131 S. Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo

High Highs

Sun, November 9, 2014

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

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 21 and over

Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo
Embarking upon a sophomore effort can be a daunting task for any young upstart, and there’s no denying Avi Buffalo’s own bar was set quite high with 2010’s celebrated eponymous debut. Fear not, dear fans/family/friends/friends of friends/newcomers, there’s nothing in this tale about The Second Album—a.k.a. At Best Cuckold, due September 8th in Europe and September 9th in North America on Sub Pop—that even remotely resembles a slump; in fact, it would be entirely appropriate to say that this Long Beach, California, enterprise is getting better with age.

Ah, yes, age—much was made of it when Avi Buffalo’s first album hit the ground running, and for good reason: While their Millikan High School classmates were preoccupied with quaint and youthful pursuits, the musicians behind Avi Buffalo were busy making an off-kilter pop gem that eventually bowled over NME, The AV Club, Pitchfork, the BBC, and numerous other outlets on both sides of the Atlantic whose tastes are respected by the general public. Like a lot of kids their age, the Buffaloes celebrated the end of high school in Europe, but instead of visiting the Louvre and Buckingham Palace, their overseas journeys took them to the festival stages of Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury, the Pavement-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead, and beyond.

So is Avi Buffalo a he or a them? The answer is a definitive yes, as leader Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg has lent his musical nickname—bestowed in childhood by a pal who’d picked up on his friend’s inclination toward spicy chicken wings—to this full-fledged outfit that works something like a solo project in the studio and then builds into a band onstage. Not that he goes it alone when recording—to the contrary, many able-bodied compatriots, including longtime collaborator Sheridan Riley, have assisted with committing his songs to tape—but everything begins and ends with Avi, and after ending a year on the road in support of the first record, he decided to take his time beginning work on the second.

The creation of At Best Cuckold turned out to be a three-year journey; a stretch of time that resembles its predecessor. While transitioning from teenager to twentysomething and traversing the interpersonal wilds which accompany that age, Avi kept playing music (even picking up a new instrument every now and again), collaborated with and produced several friends (including Kevin Litrow’s N.O.W. project and Douglas James Sweeney’s Arjuna Genome), and even started DJing. He also wrote new songs, and by the time 2013 rolled around, it was time to begin capturing his latest sparks—with that, the band headed into the studio on New Year’s Day.

Two weeks later, the basic tracks for At Best Cuckold were recorded, having been captured at Tiny Telephone, the analog-friendly San Francisco studio run by John Vanderslice of John Vanderslice fame. The engineering was actually handled by Jay Pellicci (The Dodos, Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney), though during his stay, Avi had a chance to play with the head honcho when he was asked to contribute to JV’s tribute to Bowie’s Diamond Dogs. Needless to say, Avi has nice things to say about the place.

The “clean and tight” recordings from Tiny Telephone served as perfect skeletons for Avi to flesh out with his analog and digital overdubs, which were completed over the next year or so at various locations around Southern California. (“I’ve always had a lot of fun with overdubs,” says Avi. “Maybe my favorite instrument is overdubs.”) The result—which was completed and mixed with Nicolas Vernhes at his Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn—is a quirky yet comforting set of songs driven by refined pop songcraft and sneaky moments of grandeur that stick in the brain. Classic-sounding melodies are delivered with a modern sensibility, creating an album that’s equal parts timely and timeless. Well-placed piano, sax, clarinet, French horn, and cornet further enhance the proceedings with a glorious orch-pop sheen.

“So What” gets things started with its understated charm and sing-songy goodness, however, it isn’t until the rollicking “Memories of You” that Avi lets his trademark falsetto fly. There are great pop moments all over At Best Cuckold, but Avi also excels at moodiness, exemplified in subdued beauties like “Two Cherished Understandings” and “Oxygen Tank.”

“I really like some of the ballad aspects of this record—it’s kind of my tribute to the ballad,” says Avi. “I predicted in an interview during the time of my first record what I was going to use in my next record, and I said a lot of major seventh chords, which, to me, sounded like laying down. And that ended up in the record, too.”

Lyrically, there are a lot of unsettled emotions on the album; a product of Avi observing the world around him and writing “about life, dealing with relationships and yourself, and trying to keep your head up and keep learning amidst whatever it is you’re going through.” Disappointment (“Thought we understood each other well / I was wrong as usual”) and anxiety (“Someone told me if I messed around / then my head would fill up with guilty clouds”) abound, though there’s also a feeling that everything is eventually going to turn out okay, even when everything seems to be falling apart during closer “Won’t Be Around No More.” If anything, Avi’s passionate delivery is the ultimate source of optimism.

At the ripe old age of 23, Avi Buffalo is ready to take on the world (again), armed with all of the experience he’s compiled over the past few years. And he’s made sure the second time around will be just as memorable as the first.
High Highs
High Highs
Widely tipped as "indie darlings" and a "band to watch" on the strength of an acclaimed EP, some high profile film and TV placements, and a series of hypnotic live shows, High Highs are set to deliver on their early promise with a debut LP in late January 2013.

Critics have embraced the four-track High Highs EP as "simply spun and exquisitely enthralling," and singer Jack Milas' falsetto as a "weapon of mass emotional destruction." Milas and co-founder Oli Chang create an "unholy" blend of acoustic-guitar textures and synthesized atmospherics. The band's signature sound has struck the blogosphere as "shimmering" and "stunning" "sun-kissed sadness."

High Highs kicks off with "Flowers Bloom," with its "delicate synth soundscapes [and] haunting vocal harmonies." It also features the "sweeping" "folk-pop" of the single "Open Season," the "gorgeous" "Ivy," and "Horses" – which has drawn multiple favourable blog comparisons to Neil Young.

Milas and Chang began making music together as High Highs in their native Sydney, Australia, while working at the same recording studio. Chang was in another band at the time, but found himself drawn to Milas' writing style. The pair plunged into a world of collaboration and invention. They discovered the basis of a band aesthetic by marrying Chang's passion for electronic indie with Jack's penchant for classic acoustic rock.

"There's obviously a lot of scope for what you can do with a laptop and a keyboard," Chang explained. "It's more straightforward which palettes of sound work with acoustic guitar, drums, and voice. That helps narrow it down a bit."

Lead vocals were a responsibility Milas initially was tempted to shirk. "I just had so little confidence in my voice," he confessed, "and singing in falsetto was the only way I knew how to get any vague vibe out of it." Chang concurred. "Singing in falsetto, you don't have to be confronted with yourself," he said. "Your speaking voice is you. With falsetto, you can become someone else. You don't have to deal with listening to yourself."

When Milas took an opportunity to work and live in New York, Chang soon followed. The duo settled in Brooklyn, re-committed to making High Highs music, and joined forces with drummer Zach Lipkins – who is also handling mixing duties on the forthcoming LP. "It's awesome that Zach is a really talented producer as well as a great drummer, especially because a lot of the time the drum arrangements are really minimal and heartbeat-like. He knows how to ride a gentle dynamic wave."

Live gigs presented the trio with a new set of musical challenges. "We had to figure out ways to get this delicate, soft music to have impact in a live kind of atmosphere," Milas said. "We'd be going on after a heavy metal band, or a synthy pop-rock thing, and it was like we had to match that in scale, create a big sound, and cut through the noise. We realised there has to be scale and dynamics to the performance, within its small intimacy, because if it's all too quiet and hushed and atmospheric, it doesn't engage us or the listeners."

High Highs played well-received gigs to expanding audiences in New York – including a packed residency at Pianos on New York's Lower East Side – and in London to a sold out crowd at the Old Queen's Head. Their widescreen sound meanwhile attracted the attention of college radio programmers and music supervisors alike – which landed a coveted slot in ABC's taste-making Grey's Anatomy, another in the hit film Pitch Perfect, and another in a heavily-rotated spot for the Amazon Kindle.

The band's debut long player will feature EP favourites "Open Season" and "Flowers Bloom," live standouts "Once Around The House" and "Phone Call," and more brand new songs. Tour dates around the release date will be announced in late 2012.
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
http://www.bootandsaddlephilly.com