Thursday, Dec 6, 2012 - 8:00 pm, $15.00
Sera Cahoone is a long way from home. Growing up the daughter of a dynamite salesman in the Colorado foothills, she got her start on the drums at 11, and at 12 her mom was taking her to dive bars to sit in with the scruffy old bluesmen. By the time she picked up a guitar, she had been so shaped by these things - the dynamite, the blues, the woods and the hills - it's no surprise she went on to be one of the strongest songwriters in Seattle's ever-vibrant Americana scene.
Since migrating to Seattle in 1998, she has played with Carissa's Wierd, Band of Horses, Betsy Olson, and singer-songwriter Patrick Park. She released her solo debut in 2006, and her widely acclaimed Sub Pop debut Only as the Day Is Long in 2008.
Deer Creek Canyon, her third solo album, sees her ruminating on the gravitational pull of home. Titled for the Colorado canyon where she came of age, where her mother still lives, Deer Creek Canyon delves deeper and sees her voice remarkably stronger than on her past albums. Where her previous efforts explored the complicated throes of dark emotions, this album is more richly focused. Home is even present in the more personal songs struggling with various facets of love and friendship ("Worry All Your Life", "Shakin' Hands").
Deer Creek Canyon was recorded in 2012 at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, Wash., then headed to LA where Sera co-produced it with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver). True to her sensibilities, she enlisted the talents of her long-time live band - Jason Kardong(pedal steel), Jeff Fielder (acoustic guitar, banjo, dobro), Jonas Haskins (bass), Jason Merculief (drums), Sarah Standard (violin) - plus Tomo Nakayama on piano and organ, and Emily Ann Peterson on cello.
All these things contributed to Cahoone singing from a firmer foundation this time around, trusting the simplicity, bending against the elements like those trees in Deer Creek Canyon. Listen closely, the music feels like home.
Pre-order Deer Creek Canyon on CD or LP by September 25th, and you'll get a limited edition 7" featuring two non-album tracks,"Dog Song" by Sera Cahoone, and "I Like to Fuck" by Toby and Skeeter (Featuring Sera Cahoone and Jason Kardong). Also, if you pre-order the album on vinyl you'll receive the limited, colored-vinyl Loser Edition of Deer Creek Canyon. Maybe you picked up on the fact that both of these things are limited, so order quick!
With Special Guest Chris Pureka
Rarely does an artist like Chris Pureka come along. In an age of fleeting success and temporary notions, Pureka is an artist of substance, armed with a sharp eye for oft-missed details and an emotional intelligence that can switch from withering to compelling with a subtle inflection. Now, with her third studio album How I Learned To See In the Dark, Pureka adds some bold new elements to the soli
d foundation she has been building throughout her ever-escalating eight-year career.
While maintaining the unique alchemy of longing, loss and hope Pureka sets to music, there is a sonic adventurism on How I Learned to See in the Dark that marks a new stage in Pureka's musical evolution. Even from the first notes of the album's opening track, "Wrecking Ball", longtime fans and the newly converted will sense that How I Learned To See In The Dark is a bigger album, deeper and more vast than anything she's released to date. "I wanted it to feel different right away," Pureka explains. "And 'Wrecking Ball' exemplifies many of the elements that are different from the last record." That difference is a newfound edginess, coupled with a more abstract sound: there is a musical depth and complexity that shines through each track, all the while maintaining the space and creative instrumentation Pureka is known for. Standout track, "Landlocked", showcases Pureka's technical prowess with the finger-picking style that won her so many accolades on Dryland while "Broken Clock" is the rhythm driven, heavy hitter bound to be on your next break up mix. "Wrecking Ball" mixes a playful quirkiness in production with an underlying paced anger, laced with twangs of percussive guitar. Finally, album closer, "August 28th" is the deep breath following the emotional tumult that precedes it - a return to quiet contemplation for the writer and the listener: "I think the whole world needs a shoeshine/I think we're all living proof."
With her 2004 debut LP, Driving North, Pureka started a career as a touring troubadour and began building an impressive fan base from the ground up: a fan base that started in her native New England and steadily grew to a national level. Fans and critics alike were drawn to her uniquely haunting voice and her acute attention to lyrical detail. Still others lauded her aptitude for crafting guitar parts that speak for themselves. "[She] is such a gifted guitar player and singer that you have to listen to each song twice, once for her guitar playing and again for her passionate lyrics about love, loss and hope." (The Boston Globe) With her 2006 follow-up, Dryland, Pureka further expanded on the emotional topography she charted earlier in her career: continuing to tour and significantly increase her fan base, and catching critics' attention with that signature voice that makes heartbreak somehow sound desirable.
Throughout her career, Pureka has prized autonomy over ease. She has released her albums independently and plays upwards of 200 dates a year, enabling her to maintain a great deal of control over her process. "Independent has become such a buzz word these days. But it's how I've always done it. I'm 100% independent, which means that I am not on an "indie label", I have and am my own label."
That independent streak is also felt throughout How I Learned To See In The Dark. From the use of alternative percussion, to the abstraction of the lyrics, to a new unrestrained vocal quality, this new record represents explorations into broader musical soundscapes. This is aided by Pureka's choice of co-producer: longtime friend, Merrill Garbus (4Ad's tUnE-YaRds). In addition to enjoying the comfort that comes with working with someone you've known since middle school, Garbus brought to the table her signature quirky recording techniques and alternative instrumentation, helping Pureka shift her sound into as-yet uncharted territory. "Merrill's musical path these days has been a lot more experimental. The percussion and looping that she does, the music that she listens to - it's not specific to the songwriter genre," says Pureka. "And that's what I'm trying to do a little bit with this record - push the envelope a bit - step outside of my comfort zone. And I think we did that."
Staying true to the thread of growth that has been her career to this point, the touring aspect for Pureka is seeing incredible growth as well. Three to 4 side players will be joining Pureka on stage each night on her upcoming cd release tour, which sees her playing bigger rooms (Music Hall of Williamsburg, the Middle East and Slims in San Francisco) in addition to four shows at this year's South By Southwest. The two-and-a-half month, 40+ city tour will stop in every major US market from New York to Los Angeles....onward and upward. It has taken years for Chris Pureka to arrive here, and each step has been as purposeful, as precise, and as unwavering as the music she makes.
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