S&S Presents

Sold Out: Vundabar

Current Joys, Ratboys

Wed, March 21, 2018

7:00 pm

Kilby Court

Salt Lake City, UT

$10 ADV / $12 DOS

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From 2014 to 2017, Vundabar's Brandon Hagen cared for a loved one that had fallen into a debilitating state of mental and physical decline. For four years his sickness and the eventual loss that followed became the focal point of Hagen’s life as well as his family’s. It was the bell jar under which they lived. Hagen was fractured into two selves; one, largely insular, racked by grief and loss and the other putting it on, touring relentlessly and hoping to be as affable as possible lest he ruin the opportunities at hand. These were the fencings and borders he made for himself and for a time he let them stand. He presented a shell of charisma and withdrew into isolation and despair, convinced he was doing right by the old dogma of stoicism. He didn’t tell a soul out of shame and embarrassment; whose he didn’t know.

Unsurprisingly these two poles couldn’t stand for long. The tension bore down on Hagen’s skull until it felt something might break. It reared its ugly head from time to time. He became withdrawn, irritable and inactive and suffered more than one nervous break. It came to a point where he had to deal with it or it was going to deal with him.

In reflection Hagen realized the point that had led his loved one to a collapse and subsequent dissolution held parallels to his own. As a child, bereft of stability, he created a larger than life persona to live within. He buried his insecurities and traumas deep and kept them there for most of his adult life, until, unable to maintain the house on stilts he’d built for himself, he collapsed completely. And here Hagen was in the face of this loss, about to repeat the cycle.

Hagen wondered was this stoicism, this shame, this impasse even his own or had it been pressed upon him. From the earliest memories of boyhood he could recall one of the most integral attributes of male-ness being an ability to suppress emotion. Concealment was touted as a point of pride and here he watched as it leveled the one who held it in his hand.

'Smell Smoke', the band's anticipated 2018 follow up to their breakout 2015 album 'Gawk,' is an attempt at openness and vulnerability. It’s an attempt at unlearning. It’s a document of grief; a child crying into the dark.
Current Joys
Current Joys
Current Joys is the enigmatic solo project of 25-year-old Henderson, Nevada-born songwriter Nicholas Rattigan. In addition to his minimal two-piece band with Jacob Rubeck, Surf Curse, Rattigan has been releasing a prolific catalog of heart-wrenching no wave ballads via Bandcamp under a handful of names (including The Nicholas Project and Tele/Visions), eventually choosing Current Joys as the permanent moniker, based on a song by folk-artist Liam the Younger of the same name. His newest release, A Different Age, documents the process of making art and the desire to create it sincerely in an era fraught with extreme irony, apathy, and nostalgia. Ripe with many of the emotions and conflicts that have influenced Rattigan’s songwriting in the past, A Different Age contains some of his most poetic lyrics and thoughtful arrangements to date.

Rattigan started writing the material for A Different Age, his fifth solo album, in 2015, shortly after moving from Reno to New York City and the release of the album Me Oh My Mirror (the limited-edition cassette of which is now sold out, along with all his other tape releases). A Different Age has changed drastically over the past three years as a result of Rattigan’s relocations, with each city influencing and altering his work. He discarded and re-recorded various tracks many times over throughout the process. Rattigan’s work on the album spans across almost three years, primarily due to the success of his other project Surf Curse who released a new critically acclaimed LP, multiple tape re-issues, and toured across America and Europe since he began making A Different Age.

He first wrote the title track, which serves as the album’s emotional core. A meditation on an artist’s place in contemporary culture, Rattigan sings about breaking free from outdated conventions over a driving beat and lush string arrangements that swell to a chilling static. Rattigan later revisits those themes throughout the record while also referencing the films and art that has inspired him. A nod to Brian Eno, the slow burning album opener “Become the Warm Jets” reflects on the power of music and the overwhelming feelings that hit when “that old song starts to play.” Later on, in “My Nights are More Beautiful Than Your Days” (named after a film by French director Andrzej Żuławski), Rattigan’s haunting vocals acknowledge the futility in trying to outrun one’s past. While most artists would draw influence from other musicians, Rattigan, a cinefile, is inspired by the works of several different directors. The vibrant, dark tone of the album is set to reflect the films of German new wave director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the slow burning pace of the Belgian art-house filmmaker Chantel Akerman.

As with his previous releases, Rattigan made most of A Different Age alone with a single guitar, drums, a loop pedal, and his laptop. After testing out many of the songs for the first time on the road and at sold out DIY shows in each of the cities he’s lived in, Rattigan consciously tried to distill the passion and spontaneity of his live performance into his recordings. He chose to leave many of the tracks desolate and sparse in an effort accentuate the emotional nuances of his performance. He also brought in label-mate Robert Tilden of BOYO to help record “Become The Warm Jets” and “A Different Age,” before eventually mixing and mastering the album on his own.
Born out of stories to tell, Ratboys has only begun to explore its sonic alleyway. What started as a spacey, acoustic duo playing shows in dorm rooms has evolved into a fully-fledged post-country project, a rockin' five-piece that tours all over. Julia Steiner (from Chicago via Kentucky) writes the songs, which start out quiet and alone; sometimes they're about her family, sometimes they give life to history and fiction and live in the arctic. Sometimes they haunt you laughing.
Venue Information:
Kilby Court
741 Kilby Court
Salt Lake City, UT, 84101