The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

Tigers Jaw, Tiny Moving Parts, Worriers

Wed, May 23, 2018

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm (event ends at 11:00 pm)

$25.00

The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years are a punk band & they are a band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & they came to life in 2005 & they write songs & those songs are sometimes about people they love & those songs are sometimes about people you might have loved & those songs are sometimes about a city that could be the city you live in or a neighborhood that feels like it could be your neighborhood & they put those songs on albums & they put those songs on The Upsides in 2010 & they put those songs on Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing in 2011 & on The Greatest Generation in 2013 & on No Closer to Heaven in 2015 & those albums were loved by critics & even more loved by fans & their shows are awash with a genuine emotional energy that only they can pull out of a room & The Wonder Years are a band made up of old friends & they play rock & roll music & they play it like they mean it & they have played it in a lot of places & in front of a lot of people & they have played it in dive bars & arenas & outside with the whole sky bowing & they have played it on five continents & they have played it in thirty countries & they are still counting & Sister Cities is their new album & it is an album about how all of our distance might not be so wide after all & it was written with the world on fire & all of the songs sound like they are trying to build you a bridge from somewhere bad to somewhere better & The Wonder Years are a band & they are also bridge builders.
Tigers Jaw
Tigers Jaw
Making yourself vulnerable isn’t easy but it often makes for lasting art and that is certainly true of Tigers Jaw’s fifth full-length, spin. The album marks a new chapter for the Scranton, Pennsylvania-based indie rock band for many reasons: Not only is it the first collection of songs that was completely written and recorded solely by Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, but it was also the first time they had a full month in the studio without having to worry about outside responsibilities. Furthermore it’s the inaugural release on Atlantic Records’ new imprint Black Cement, a label spearheaded by the band’s longtime collaborator Will Yip who returned to the production helm for spin. 

All of these factors converged to create an album that sounds more fully formed than anything Tigers Jaw have done in the past and simultaneously establishes them as a band whose appeal truly transcends genres. While Walsh initially encouraged Collins to start singing lead vocals and songwriting with 2014’s Charmer, the duo’s collective output on spin is a collaboration in the truest sense of a creative partnership. “In a lot of ways this record is a return to the way the band started in the sense that it was coming from two people working very closely together and I think that resulted in something that was really cohesive,” Walsh explains. “The whole experience felt really organic even if the recording process was different than anything we had done in the past together.” 

While Tigers Jaw’s previous four albums were recorded on tight deadlines and even tighter budgets, for spin the band would record six days a week for 10 hours a day over the course of an entire month — and while the band didn’t think they’d ever need that much time, ultimately they ended up utilizing every minute. “Having all of that extra time allowed us to track everything song by song to give each individual track its own unique focus,” Walsh explains. “It allowed for the freedom to play around with different ideas rather than keeping things tied to the way we wrote the demos; the performances, tones and structures were really tailored to each individual track which gave us so much room to play around and experiment together.” 

From the sweetly syncopated, fuzzed-out bliss of the opener “Follows” to the midtempo melodicism of “June” and liltingly lovely ballad “Bullet,” spin sees Tigers Jaw stretching out sonically and correspondingly Yip was the perfect person to encourage the duo to approach things in a different way than they would have initially conceived. “Will is great at understanding what you want to get out of a song and pushing you to achieve that,” Collins explains when asked about Yip’s role “He had ideas especially about song structures that I might not have thought of and we had enough time in the studio to fully explore a lot of those ideas and see how they turned out. He didn’t try to change the way we wanted the songs to sound but he allowed us to step outside of our comfort zone.” 

Tigers Jaw have always been known for their incredibly relatable lyrics and for this album Walsh tried something new: He experimented with stream-of-consciousness writing as a way to get his ideas out of his subconscious in an unfiltered fashion. “The lyrics I wrote for spin are very personal in the sense that there’s a lot of material relating to mental wellness, coming to terms with getting older and pursuing something creative like this band even though that might not be the conventional path for someone my age,” he explains. The album also sees Collins taking a shine to writing duties whether she’s writing a love song like “Same Stone” or getting introspective on the dreamy sounding “Brass Ring.” 
Ultimately though, there isn’t much distinction between Walsh and Collins on spin in the sense that the two of them come together to form a collective whole — and not only do their styles perfectly complement each other, but at times their vocals are so in sync that it’s difficult to tell where one person’s voice ends and the other’s begins. “The two of us worked together so closely on this record especially when it came to layering our harmonies and I think along with open guitar chords and Casiotone organs, that’s what really makes this album sound like us,” Collins summarizes. “We needed to do what felt like Tigers Jaw — and I think we were able to do that in a really exciting way this time around.”
Tiny Moving Parts
Tiny Moving Parts
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” That well-known quote, often attributed to Dr Seuss, could also be the mantra that Tiny Moving Parts live by. It’s certainly a philosophy that the trio – who hail from the incredibly small town of Benson, Minnesota and were formed in 2008 by brothers Matt and Billy Chevalier (bass and drums, respectively) and their cousin Dylan (vocals/guitar) – applied while making their fourth full-length record, Swell. For while it’s an album that’s full of absence – lost love, lost friends, lost time – it looks for the positives. Instead of dwelling on those empty spaces, Swell instead recalls what was once in their place.
“The album is about trying to be the best person you can be,” explains vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen, “and being as happy as you can in the world we live in. That’s been kind of the overall theme of our band – just trying to find the positive in shitty situations and keeping your head up.”

To that extent, Swell is the next natural step in the Tiny Moving Parts catalogue. But if 2016’s Celebrate was almost unadulterated in that positive outlook, Swell finds the band – completed by Mattheisen’s cousins, drummer Billy Chevalier and bassist Matt Chevalier – a little bit darker, a little bit sadder. Its songs still manage to conquer and overcome those emotions, but there’s no denying that some of the situations described within them are pretty bleak.

Take album closer “Warm Hand Splash”, for instance. It’s about a piece of trash at the bottom of a wishing well that adores a coin, which someone eventually steals away, leaving the piece of trash forever alone and heartbroken in the dark. Of course, as awful as that sounds, there is still a bright side. Of course there is – this is Tiny Moving Parts.
“There’s two ways you can look at that song,” says Mattheisen. there's two ways you can look at it. A) you're stuck for life in that well and that's really depressing and dark after having your favorite thing taken away. But, B) being happy that even happened, that the happiness it brought you through those days could be happiness that certain people – or pieces of trash! – haven't seen or felt ever in their life.”

It’s not the only song on the record that plays with the idea of conventional narrator. “Smooth It Out” tells the story of an old stray cat in a city who meets a newly stray – and terrified – cat while “Whale Watching” is a story of isolation told from the eyes of a fish that’s been swallowed by a whale and is trying to find a way out. “It’s Too Cold Tonight” is about watching foxes playing outside, the song’s narrator trying to work out – as Mattheisen explains – whether they’re “glowing so bright from the happiness that you don’t have, or if it’s headlights coming towards them.”

Of course, while these songs might not be sung from conventional points of view, a tidal wave of human emotions flows through them and the lyrics are malleable enough for them to relate to the listener’s own life, experiences and emotions.
“I find it fun and interesting to write from someone else's shoes – or, with animals, I guess it'd be their paws,” chuckles Mattheisen, “but I purposefully write them a little vague. I write about specific things but I give the listener their own paint tools so they can color in their own picture and relate to it the way they want to.”

How they do that – whether they give into the dark or choose to look on the bright side of things – is up to the listener, but the music is so life-affirming, so full of uplifting energy, that they may not have a choice. Recorded in Blaine, Minnesota by Greg Lindholm – with whom they recorded 2010’s The Couch Is Long & Full Of Friendship and Celebrate – its ten songs are a rush of blood to both the heart and head, raucous, desperate songs that are fevered and frenzied but infused with the band’s trademark math-rocky guitar licks and playful, shout-a-long choruses. It’s enough to make you forget all your woes and fill your heart with warmth and love. Which was precisely the idea. Taken from a lyric – “May your brain cells swell” – that’s repeated emphatically at the end of “Wishbone”, the idea of Swell’s title is an incredibly visceral one that the band hopes will have a powerful and positive effect on anyone who listens to it.
“The idea,” explains Mattheisen, “is about following that raw happiness in your brain and allowing it to expand and grow to overcome your doubts. It’s about your brain cells expanding and swelling up and swallowing the negativity in your head to serve an overall better outlook on life. If we can impact people and make them more optimistic in life and be nicer to each other, that'd be amazing. We want to let others know that they're not alone. Because shit can go wrong and everyone has their bummer days, but in the long run were all going to pass away someday, so we want to make sure we live a good life and do the best we could to ourselves and towards others.”
Worriers
Worriers
“I wrote the majority of the songs on this record thinking about what past versions of myself
would’ve needed or been listening to at different points in my life,” explains Worriers’ Lauren
Denitizio of Survival Pop, their sophomore album. “I think we’re all probably having a tough time
right now and I hope that the songs on the record can be intentionally uplifting and cathartic.
The record is called Survival Pop because I see it as songs for self-preservation.”
From enduring years of health issues that led to open heart surgery at the age of 25, to growing
up queer, to losing friends to suicide and substance abuse, Lauren is no stranger to life’s
hurdles. But make no mistake, while these experiences influenced the creation of Survival Pop,
the record avoids self-pity and offers instead a triumphant rallying cry, a celebration of
overcoming, and an empowering journey to self-actualization. “Simply finding a way of surviving
in the face of illness and loss, misogyny, homophobia and the patriarchy is still a threat to those
things - it’s a forward, aggressive action,” they explain.
Survival Pop was recorded in Fenton, Michigan with Marc Jacob Hudson, who worked with
Worriers on their debut full-length, Imaginary Life, alongside Laura Jane Grace. Lauren met
Marc through Laura and the two felt an immediate musical kinship. While on previous records
Lauren had been the sole member to stay throughout the process with other musicians leaving
after recording their parts, for Survival Pop Lauren worked and lived for over two weeks
alongside Lou Hanman (guitar), Mikey Erg (drums), Nick Psillas (bass) and John McLean
(guitar). The result is a record that is Worriers’ mostly tightly crafted yet, never straying from
their punk roots while expanding their sound to something infinitely accessible and poppy,
carried throughout by the strength of Lauren’s vocal melodies.
In addition to being an accomplished musician for over a decade, Lauren is also a gifted artist
and writer, with an MFA in Fine Arts from Parsons and a BFA in Illustration from the Rhode
Island School of Design. The longtime Brooklyn resident, who recently migrated to Philadelphia,
has shown at galleries throughout the United States and has done international residencies in
Berlin and Reykjavik. Worriers and Lauren have received praise from numerous notable
publications including NPR, Pitchfork, New York Times, Village Voice and MSNBC, and have
toured with Against Me!, Julien Baker and John K. Samson among others.
Venue Information:
The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
2036 University Avenue
near Downtown Berkeley BART
Berkeley, CA, 94704
http://www.theuctheatre.org/