Grapetooth – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – June 26th, 2019

Grapetooth

Chicago duo mixing throwback synth-pop and damaged folk music, with a lauded 2018 self-titled debut

Grapetooth

Ian Sweet, James Swanberg

Wed, June 26, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$13 ADV / $15 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seating

Grapetooth
Grapetooth
Concocting a freshly strange blend of synth pop and damaged folk music, Grapetooth is a band from Chicago that consists of Chris Bailoni and Clay Frankel.

The two don’t remember clearly how they met, but Frankel, home from tour with garage rock outfit Twin Peaks, began dropping in at Bailoni’s residence in the winter of 2015. The two began writing spontaneous songs in Bailoni's synth laden bedroom studio, which had long stood as the base of operations for his own wonderfully weird solo and producer work as Home-Sick.

By 2016 the two friends were sharing an apartment, along with a growing fondness for red wine, bad weather, and the music of Yukihiro Takahashi. Though still without a name or any intention to release their music, as roommates the two collaborated more and more often, at all hours of the day and night. Soon they had quite a score, and agreed to play a show opening for their close friend Knox Fortune for his upcoming album release show. They chose the name Grapetooth, an affectionate slang term for a wino, and decided to make a video in support of the upcoming show for their song “Trouble”, one of the earliest songs the two had written together. Like the song itself, which had been written and recorded in the course of one night inside Bailoni’s bedroom, the video was similarly unplanned and on the cheap, and they posted it online without further ado.The reception was encouraging, and the pair went back to the bedroom and focused on completing their album.

The album, set for release in November 2018 on Polyvinyl Record Co., captured a feeling the duo happily felt was somewhere between the doomy disco of 80’s new wave and the woozy laments of artists like Arthur Russell and Jeff Cowell. It contains songs about death and love and the movie “Badlands” and more than a few songs about wine.
Ian Sweet
Ian Sweet
IAN SWEET has been the source of and solution to many of Jilian Medford’s deepest anxieties. But now, two years after her soul-bearing debut LP Shapeshifter, Medford is confronting that reality with surprising optimism on her new full-length Crush Crusher. Medford has decided to make the project a solo endeavor once again (as it had been in her salad days in the Boston DIY scene) and took the opportunity to compose some of her most self reflective and emotionally analytical songs to date.
In writing Crush Crusher, Medford committed herself to exploring her own issues with self-image, self- respect/worth, and the responsibility she has felt to others. Album opener “Hiding” was one of the first songs she wrote for the record while living in a frigid Brooklyn apartment during a winter break amidst her grueling tour schedule. In the song, Medford reflects on an interpersonal relationship that fell apart because of an inability to feel supreme comfort in sharing all the pieces of herself with someone. Nevertheless, a hopeful demeanor shines through on “Hiding” and in her writing across the album, with lyrics that embrace life’s hurdles and make them feel a little less scary.
Much of Crush Crusher’s songs deal with Medford’s internalized pressure to become a caretaker in many of her close friends’ lives. As a defense mechanism for her own insecurities, Medford projects a sense of invincibility and benevolence to feel more deserving of the love received from others; we hear this on “Holographic Jesus” when she repeats the phrase “the sun built me to shade everybody,” characterizing the sacrifice and responsibility she feels in ways that could easily go unnoticed. “Holographic Jesus” ultimately represents a façade of strength that Medford has clung onto and, in true Taurus fashion, is stubborn to let go of.
Musically, Crush Crusher is full of dissonant open chords and abnormal progressions, finding beauty in a level of conflict not seen on Shapeshifter. To help achieve this expansive-but-focused sound, Medford enlisted the help of someone who was just as ambitiously experimental in their approach, producer and engineer Gabe Wax (Deerhunter, The War on Drugs, Soccer Mommy). Medford and Wax set up shop at Rare Book Room studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and completed the basic tracking with musicians Simon Hanes on bass and Max Almario on drums. “Coming into a space where some of my biggest inspirations like Bjork, Dirty Projectors, and Deerhunter had all once also recorded, I felt determined to push myself and test every boundary that I may have subconsciously created along the way. Gabe made me feel comfortable with attempting anything,” Medford says. By the end of the recording process, IAN SWEET wound up with an unconventional assortment of songs featuring disparate elements of psych- rock, trip-hop, and shoegaze that together forged a sound uniquely her own.
Crush Crusher’s closing track “Your Arms Are Water” serves as a thematic reprise for the whole album, telling the story of an inspiring relationship in Medford’s life that was drowning in doubt. The song’s nuanced perspective captures the record’s thesis—that to escape your misery sometimes requires accepting your imperfections. Such compassionate and densely-realized observations make Crush Crusher more nourishing food for thought for fans of IAN SWEET.
James Swanberg
James Swanberg
James is able to do something that so many cannot. He can write songs that are memorable, songs that stick with you and follow you home, songs that you find yourself singing in the shower the next day, songs that are bonafide hits.