Girl Ray, Kevin Krauter

Tue. February 20

8:00 pm

$15.00 - $16.00

Early on his third record as Porches, The House, Aaron Maine outlines his rifting desires: “I don’t wanna leave you out/I just wanna leave the house.” Though the debate is seemingly simple (the classic “should I stay or should I go” scenario), at the crux of the sentiment is an urgent need to exit the comfort of domesticity and be one’s own person. The House is driven by this urge to step back and reconcile with oneself. Whether examining identity through a relationship, nostalgia, or isolation, the key to unlocking The House is the conscious act of renewal.
Unlike 2013’s rollicking indie rock crusher Slow Dance in the Cosmos or the lush synth-pop of 2016’s Pool, Porches’ third record is a conscious effort in minimalism and honesty. “While making Pool I learned how valuable the spirit of the demos are,” says Aaron, “so for The House I made a point to try and capture the song the day it was conceived.” He recorded only for “keeps” and initially limited himself to a 4-track as a means of committing individual songs. Though he would later rework the arrangements, Aaron focused intensely on recording the essence of the song, embracing the imperfections of some of the performances in hopes of putting forward something more honest. Though Aaron largely composes on his own, The House features contributions by Alexander Giannascoli (Alex G), Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Maya Laner (True Blue, Porches), Kaya Wilkins (Okay Kaya), Bryndon Cook (Starchild & the New Romantic), Cameron Wisch (Cende, Porches), Jason Arce, Bea1991, and his own father, Peter Maine. As with Pool, Aaron brought his recorded work to Chris Coady (Beach House, Slowdive, TV on the Radio), who then mixed The House at his Sunset Sound studio.
In accordance with the raw recording process, The House finds Aaron saying less with more intention. Because of his urgent desire to document immediate sensations, The House’s fourteen tracks offer a series of diaristic vignettes. There are moments of emerging from fear of ego death (“Leave the House,” “By My Side,” “Now The Water”), escaping the corporeal (“Now The Water,” “Swimmer”), the terrifying thrill of young love (“Country,” “W Longing”), and parting with the past (“Wobble,” “Goodbye”). As on Pool, images of water suggesting salvation at every turn: “Think I’ll go/Somewhere else/Where I can sink/Into myself” (“Find Me”); “can you make it right/can you do no harm/break the water with your arms” (“Country”); “This cold pool/Glowing against the night/Is the only thing/I believe is right” (“ W Longing”).
While these themes possibly paint The House in a dark light, the record is marked by an excitement at the prospect of self-discovery, and commitment to the process of getting there. “Find Me,” for example, touches on anxiety and isolation, but is put forward as an icy dance track where one might be able to celebrate those two emotions. The same paradox can be found in “Goodbye,” a piano track Aaron wrote after taking a solo trip to his hometown. Though it is initially a melancholy reflection of youth’s ephemerality, the chorus’ image of slipping into a lake invokes the beauty that sometimes accompanies the act of letting go. “Now The Water” also features one of The House’s most affecting images: “Red clutch farm kid not making a sound.” As Aaron explains it, the image is of a rural adolescent who sneaks out into a field at night. Only then, lying there alone while the world sleeps, do they truly feel in touch with themselves. This idea of being fully oneself is the ultimate state of liberation, and with The House, Aaron Maine creeps closer to realizing that goal for himself.
Girl Ray
Girl Ray
North-London based indie pop trio.
Members: Poppy Hankin (vocals, guitar), Iris McConnell (drums), Sophie Moss (bass).
Kevin Krauter
Kevin Krauter
Useful Solitude.

That's the phrase Kevin Krauter uses to describe Toss Up, his upcoming full‐length debut on Bayonet Records‐both the conditions in which it was created and the prevailing theme of these nine iridescent indie‐pop songs. In between tours, the Indiana musician spent long hours in his basement, guitars and vintage keyboards his only company, and tested out ideas, explored new sonic avenues, savored new sounds, and taught himself how to play a few instruments.

"I would wake up and have a cup of coffee, then I'd come up with a song or a melody and just sit and play it literally for three or four hours straight. Then I'd try to find new ways to play it, or do it with different notes or on different instruments. I don't want to call it meditating, but it was pretty meditative to sit there by myself and play the same thing over and over and over and over." The riffs and melodies became mantras, repeated back to himself until they became the rhythmically intricate, melodically bold, and emotionally complex songs on Toss Up. An insightful songwriter with a lyrical style that is both economical and evocative, Krauter crafts unique soundscapes that scramble a range of influences:'60s flower pop, '70s easy listening, '80s New Wave, '90s alt‐radio, '00s indie rock.

A gentle melancholy pervades the album, but it's far too imaginative to sound morose or mopey. "You're singing all alone and you're dancing all alone," he sings on "Who Do You Know," as the guitars crackle and the synths fizz around him. As Toss Up proceeds, Krauter fills the songs with more and more people:a lover in the unabashedly sweet "Keep Falling in Love;" a friend in the album‐closing title track who becomes an audience of one. Music becomes the bond between Krauter and the world:"Take my hand 'cause we're really alone in this world," he sings on "Toss Up," but adds a poignant promise:"I can carry you home."

Best known as one of several guitar players, songwriters, and vocalists in the Hoosier indie‐rock band Hoops, Krauter has been making music all by his lonesome for much longer. He grew up in a family heavily involved in local musical theater, even appearing in three productions of Joseph &the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He played in high school bands, but didn't get serious about writing and recording until he enrolled at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. His first efforts ‐‐ recorded in his dorm room ‐‐ weren't intended for any kind of audience, but a friend asked him to record a few tracks for a class project. Eventually those sessions became 2015's Magnolia EP, a short collection of gentle, gauzy songs that reveal his early obsession with one of his first musical heroes, Vashti Bunyan.

It was his first taste of the music business, and the experience left a huge impression. "I'd never put any music out under my name. I'd never put out a tape before. It all came together quickly." Krauter began recording and releasing music prolifically, first with Hoops and then on his own. The Changes EP, released in late 2016, showcases his deft guitar playing, mixing soul‐baring songwriting with bossa nova rhythms and intimately lo‐fi production. It was supposed to be a low‐key release, but Changes became a word‐of‐mouth hit that amassed a small but avid cult behind it. "I didn't think it was going to make any huge waves for me, but a lot of people told me they were still listening to it a year or more later. They were living with it, and I thought that was cool."

Those first two EPs were mostly acoustic, just Krauter, his guitar, and occasionally a brushed snare drum or a textural electric guitar. "I was cool with it for a while, but I wanted to make something that sounded a little more pop." Recorded at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Indiana, Toss Up builds on the sonic worlds of his first releases, conveying a similar mood with a greater array of instruments and influences. Still, he worked with what he had around him. "I found this old two‐stack organ at Goodwill and set it up on top of an old Yamaha teach‐yourself keyboard that my mom had. I was playing those over and over."

You can hear those vintage keyboards merging on "Keep Falling in Love," which recalls R&B organist Timmy Thomas and West Coast marina pop artists Ned Doheny while showing off Krauter's strong falsetto. "Rollerskate" audaciously marries a hypnotic keyboard theme to a loping drumbeat based on a popular '90s alt‐rock hit. (See if you can guess which one. Answer below*.) "I had been working on that guitar part and it sounded like another pretty folk song, so I thought, What if I put this weird funky beat on top of it Most of these songs are very groove heavy."

That is the secret tension on Toss Up, the engine that drives these songs:melody propelled by rhythm, melancholy fended off by the exuberance of simply creating art. "A lot of the songs are about solitude in a very healthy sense, about trying to make it something useful and productive. It was good to center myself in that experience. I was able to get to a place where I was not afraid to be really stoked by what I was doing." Or, as he declares on "Lonely Boogie":"I'm all alone and I'm having a good time."

* "Someday" by Sugar Ray. "I would listen to that song and think, these drums sound so fucking sick," says Krauter. "I wanted to steal the isolated drum track, but it was too slow for 'Rollerskate.'"
Venue Information:
El Club
4114 Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI, 48209