Courtney Marie Andrews

Courtney Marie Andrews

Angelo De Augustine

Tue · October 2, 2018

7:30 pm

$12.00 - $14.00

This event is 21 and over

Courtney Marie Andrews
Courtney Marie Andrews
Courtney Marie Andrews spent over nine months of 2017 on the road, with multiple trips across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. That’s nothing new for Andrews, though. She’s been touring relentlessly since leaving her Arizona hometown at 16. It’s a life that inspired much of her 2016 breakthrough album, Honest Life. While that album’s themes spoke to the isolation and rootlessness inherent in a life on the road, most of its songs were actually written during an intentional, extended break. The success that followed its release, however, didn’t afford her the same break to write the material for her new album.

Although May Your Kindness Remain was predominately written on the road -- in the van, in hotels, and in the homes of family and friends -- it’s not a road record like its predecessor. That is, it’s not so much inspired by her life on the road so much as it is by the people she’s met along the way. It’s an inward reflection on the connectivity of their stories and her own. “More than anything,” she says, “it got me thinking about my childhood, and the people around me that I’ve known, and the stories that come from my family. It became clear how many people are struggling through the same issues.”

May Your Kindness Remain is full of vivid depictions of complex people and places with all too common struggles. Much of the album deals with the psychological and relational impact of the unrealistic picture of success that is so embedded in modern American culture.

“People are constantly chasing that bigger life. A lot of people are poor in America -- and because of those unattainable goals, they’re also mentally unstable, or sad, or depressed or unfulfilled. A lot of people -- myself included at some point in my life -- are loving somebody through this. That’s sort of the theme of the record: coming to terms with depression and the reality of the world we’re living in. Mental illness is a taboo in this culture -- or not taken seriously. I’ve grown up around it a lot, and sort of feel like I understand it from all sides.”

There are no simple answers in these songs. There’s just an acknowledgement of our shared hardships and a call for empathy. Despite its characters’ burdens, May Your Kindness Remain isn’t downtrodden. There’s a defiance built into its melancholy, a sense that even the most complicated problems are worth facing -- a sentiment that also explains why the album’s music refuses to stay within any rigid sonic boundaries.

While Andrews self-produced Honest Life, she knew this one had to be different. To record May Your Kindness Remain, her restless side took over. “It’s very characteristic to how I work -- I need to be shaken up,” she says. “I was like, ‘I need to change something, and create something different, and push myself in a different direction. I knew I wanted to make a more modern, unique sounding record.”

She found that direction thanks to a bit of serendipity. All at once, she began noticing Mark Howard’s name on several of her favorite records. She was consistently drawn to the resonant depth of the sound and tone in the albums he had done with luminaries like Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Tom Waits. With nothing to lose, her manager messaged him about producing the new record.

The inquiry was a success: months later, Andrews and her band found themselves in a rented house in Los Angeles, overlooking the city’s skyline, making May Your Kindness Remain with Howard at the helm. “I wanted to make a record in L.A.,” she says. “In that house, overlooking a city that epitomizes both America’s diversity and also the commonality of very real struggles against often unrealistic hopes and dreams.”

Andrews recalls Howard saying that he liked “making records that you can live in.” To her, it felt intuitive, natural and spontaneous -- an extension of the songwriting process that went into these songs. Howard, Andrews and the band lived in that house for eight days, barely fitting it in between two tours. As is Howard’s custom, the house was the studio. He brought all the gear, recording everyone in the same room to a live board, live off the floor. “A lot of the record is either the first take or we did just one overdub,” Andrews says. “Nothing’s overthought.” The band set up in a circle, watching each other across the room as they played each song live.

As a result, the album sounds intimate and warm, as if listeners are in the house with them, watching it all unfold. While May Your Kindness Remain is Andrews’ fullest sounding record to date, the songs and her vocals are never eclipsed. “Mark’s really good about stripping the song down to the bones, and asking, ‘Where is the song in this? And how do we make the song come out while still having great instrumentation?’” Andrews recalls.

Still, the album’s arrangements are meticulous. Unlike the predominantly acoustic guitar based Honest Life, May Your Kindness Remain builds around Andrews’ songs with heavy lead guitar (Dillon Warnek) and keys riffs (Daniel Walker, Charles Wicklander). Having played with Andrews for years, the rhythm section (Alex Sabel, bass; William Mapp, drums, percussion) fills the sound as naturally as you’d expect. There was no click track for Mapp, adding to the album’s sentient, live feel.

Every instrument and sound on the album has their proper place, across diverse styles: proud piano ballads (“Rough Around the Edges”); easygoing, country-tinted rock (“Kindness of Strangers”); and biting, sarcastic folk gems (“I’ve Hurt Worse”). Gospel singer C.C. White adds backing vocals throughout, including on the stunning title track, a striking statement of purpose that blooms at the end thanks to layers of soulful harmonies. “When C.C. was singing her parts,” Andrews remembers, “I just laid there on the floor, both comforted and blown away.”

Andrews’ own vocals are notably more powerful and soulful -- especially on the organ-heavy blues number “Border”, with a ragged weariness that honors the immigrant’s resilience in the face of blatant thoughtlessness and racism; and “Took You Up”, a take on accepting love as a simple offering before any illusion of wealth or success. Her vocal performances reflect her recent listening habits, which include Motown and soul, as well as albums by the eclectic rock band Little Feat. They also point to her confidence and growing range as a live vocalist. I subconsciously started incorporating more vocal stretching in my songs, just because of how fun that was,” she says. “I’ve always been really inspired by soul singers. I can sing like that -- but I never really had before.”

In the end, May Your Kindness Remain finds Andrews at home in her restlessness, embracing her intuition. It has stretched her vocals, her sound and her songwriting to new depths and produced a brave record -- a record that is unafraid of addressing the complexities of life in order to find common ground and understanding, no matter how divided this world may seem.
Angelo De Augustine
Angelo De Augustine
Swim Inside the Moon is a record by 24-year-old Angelo De Augustine. This second full-length of Angelo’s career captures a sound he’s been looking for since he started playing music a decade ago.

Shortly after the 2015 release of Spirals of Silence, his first record, Angelo toured extensively but caught whooping cough on the last show of the tour. The illness debilitated Angelo for months. He feared he might permanently lose his voice, or if it came back, it wouldn’t sound the same.

Unable to sing or sometimes even speak, Angelo instead focused on songwriting. “I wasn’t thinking much about making a record,” says Angelo.

This gave Angelo a lot time to focus on songwriting and sound. Although Angelo had previously recorded in studios, he felt like that environment didn’t capture the ambience he wanted for his music.

Angelo’s voice did recover, and this time he set-up his equipment by himself, in his home. In his bathtub.

Recording in a bathroom might sound odd, but it’s nothing new really; supposedly Jim Morrison recorded vocals for “L.A. Woman” in a bathroom and even took The Doors (lolz) off the hinges so he could talk to bandmates while he played, and The Beatles recorded some of their earliest work in bathrooms. In the 1940s, producer Bill Putnam engineered the first intentionally recorded reverb for a Harmonicats take of “Peg o’ My Heart” by putting the microphone and loudspeaker in a bathroom.

Angelo’s setup was similarly simple: a Shure SM57 microphone next to the wall of the shower and a cable back to an analog reel-to-reel in his nearby bedroom. He’d hit record, then run quickly to the bathroom with his guitar and sit on the edge of the tub and play and sing. For some songs, he played his mother’s 100-year-old piano in the living room, and on others he added synth and electric guitar. He kept it simple.

Recording the nine songs on Swim Inside the Moon took several months. Because Angelo was using an analog reel-to-reel machine with very little overdubbing, he was always recording live. If something didn’t go as planned, he’d start from scratch each time.

Some of the songs took only a few takes. But others took weeks; if a song wasn’t working on a particular day, Angelo would return to it the next day. Sometimes there were other interruptions: “Occasionally my dogs would bark on a really good take,” says Angelo. Other times Angelo kept recording anyway.“You might be able to hear them in the background,” he says.

The reverb, analog as it is, gives Angelo’s music a strong sense of place: this music existed as a soundwave that bounced off walls in Angelo’s bathroom, and then traveled over wires to the listener. The reverb amplifies Angelo’s songwriting, echoing a sense of heartache, loss, but also of joy and hope, and the comfort of home.

This freedom allowed Angelo to find the sound he was looking for: “A sound behind the voice,” he says. “I noticed that when you sing off a reflective surface you hear two voices. One is the representation of yourself and the other is similar to a shadow that follows the sound. I was compelled to isolate that voice and bring it more to the front of the songs because in many ways I feel more connected to and comforted by that voice following me.”

Besides a distinct sense of place and time, listeners might also hear Nick Drake’s intricate arpeggiated guitar parts, Elliott Smith’s pure vocals, or, at times, a likeness to the soulfulness of artists such as Vashti Bunyan, Judee Sill, Joanna Newsom, and Jose Gonzalez.

But it’s worth noting that these artists are fairly new to Angelo, whose musical inspiration comes more from his mom than from a playlist. “Because my mom’s career was singing, she would never listen to music when she wasn’t working,” Angelo explains. “The music that I did hear the most were her songs that she wrote at home.

As to what these songs mean, well, that’s harder to say. “I couldn’t tell you,” says Angelo, though it sounds like he wished he could. He compares his songwriting to waking up after a vivid dream: “I get into this place, and then I wake up with a song instead of a dream,” says Angelo, “Maybe I’ll know what it’s about later. Or maybe I knew, and I’ve forgotten.”

Angelo De Augustine writes and records music in Thousand Oaks, California — a suburb north of Los Angeles, where he grew up. His self-released debut album, Spirals of Silence, and 3-song EP follow-up, How Past Begins, earned praise from The FADER, Stereogum, Vogue, My Old Kentucky Blog, and more.

“The sonic equivalent of a cracked porcelain plate—broken, but beautiful in its ruin.” – Vogue

“Crystalline and otherworldly… matching warm guitar figures with chilling whispers” – Stereogum

“Stunning is used quite a bit to describe music, but in this instance it rings true.” – My Old Kentucky Blog
Venue Information:
Moroccan Lounge
901 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
http://www.themoroccan.com/