Valley Maker

Valley Maker

The Singleman Affair

Tue, August 23, 2016

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Hideout

Chicago, IL

$10.00

Tickets at the Door

Valley Maker
Valley Maker
Life rarely provides obvious answers. But if you appreciate
the beauty and wonder of exploring its complex mysteries, then Seattle's Valley Maker deserves your undivided attention. Recorded over two summers on opposite ends of the country, and composed during a nomadic period spanning two continents, When I Was A Child (out 9.25.15 on Brick Lane Records) features twelve originals that contemplate life, love, and death, faith and doubt, time and space. "Songwriting is a way to approach unanswerable questions, these experiences that don't have easy conclusions," says Austin Crane, the 27 year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter behind Valley Maker. Distinctive finger-picking, unconventional tunings, and plaintive vocals anchor Crane's music. Throughout this record, longtime collaborator Amy Godwin intertwines her voice intuitively with his; the end result sounds less like two individuals harmonizing than one who sings with astonishing depth and dimension. Pairing senses of immediacy and space, some songs mesmerize the ear with little else than voice and guitar, while others are fleshed out with bass, drums, and piano. Ambient noise imbues. When I Was A Child with cohesion via a sense of being in the same room with the musicians.

Crane grew up in Florence, South Carolina, where I-95 intersects I-20. The oldest of six children, he spent his childhood in a tight-knit evangelical community. Music opened up the world to Austin when he received a guitar at the age of thirteen. As he grew older, his tastes settled and matured towards key influences like Bill Callahan (Smog), Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy), Chan Marshall (Cat Power), and Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia). Valley Maker began in 2010 as Crane's senior thesis project at the University of South Carolina. Big existential ideas marked this first collection of Valley Maker songs, which explored the humanity and mystery of Biblical origins stories from the Book of Genesis. Eventually Crane posted this material online. While it pleased him that others connected with these songs, and he played some shows around them, he didn't imagine Valley Maker would carry him into the future after graduation. Instead, he embarked on a series of international aid internships, Eastern European adventures, and graduate studies that led him to Colorado, Bulgaria, Kentucky, Ukraine, back to South Carolina, and ultimately Washington.

As his travels continued, so did the music. "Songwriting became a way to stay in touch with other aspects of my experiences and my interior life. It would be disingenuous to say I never intended to record or play these new songs live, but I really didn't have a concrete plan when I wrote most of them." After completing his master's degree at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the vibrant music scene of the Pacific Northwest influenced his decision to come to the University of Washington for his Ph.D. studies in Human Geography – a field which happily affords him more opportunities to ask big questions. Balancing the two disciplines suits him fine. And the open-ended nature of this songwriting project permits him to showcase it live in different configurations: solo, in a duo with Godwin, or as a full band. Because as When I Was A Child affirms, when the questions you ask – and the art they inspire – remain fluid, moments of great truth and beauty ensue.
The Singleman Affair
The Singleman Affair
"The End of the Affair" was recorded and engineered by Andrew Hernandez in an abandoned barber shop, where the band had built a recording studio to capture the more intimate moments of the new material as a live collaborative effort as well as utilize the larger space to capture all of the musicians together. The songs the band tracked live in the barber shop studio became the foundation of the “End of the Affair.” These songs were then augmented by various late night session at Daniel Schneider’s home recording studio, utilizing an expansive collection of vintage microphones and a 1970's EMT plate reverb that harnessed both the urgency of the full band recordings as well as the delicate intimacy found in some of the acoustic guitar and vocal tracks. All of these recordings were then handed off to long time Singleman Affair stalwart (engineer/producer) Graeme Gibson, who mixed the album, following some additional recordings to create the dynamic sounds that make up “The End of the Affair.” Additional musicians who contributed to this record were Gillian Lisee (Cairo Gang), multi-instrumentalist and drummer Graeme Gibson (Fruit Bats, Disappears, Houndstooth), and viola and banjo player Liz Payne (Town and Country, The Zoo Wheel). The End of the Affair will be available June 16th as a collaborative release between Cardboard Sangria Records and Strange Weather Records (on LP/CS/DL).

In the years that followed the release of their second album, The Singleman Affair performed almost exclusively as a live band, integrating the different moods of the first two records into a live experience. The musical relationships established by the band formed the foundation of their third full-length album, “The End of the Affair”, a new, frenetic emotional tryst that personifies darker, heavier tones within their dense psychedelia. What was once the singular bedroom recordings of Daniel Schneider is now a full multidimensional band, backed by Adam Vida on drums (U.S. Maple), Gary Pyskacek on guitar and pedal steel, Jacob Smith on organ, and Sam Wagster(Cairo Gang, Fruit Bats) on bass. The band mixes influences from late 60s British folk, early 70s stoner psychedelia, outsider noise art, surrealism, film noir, and their own love of improvisation and experimentation. Thematically, “The End of the Affair” is a meditation on anxiety and the fleeting faces seen through the eyes of an aging folk troubadour. From the Stooges-esque opener “Be This Way”, inspired by (Luis Bunuel's) surrealist masterpiece “Un Chien Andalou”, one hears the worried notes of a man never finding the morning light, of never waking up…”Lets open every eyelid/lets cut them open brightly” which resonate with the image of a singular eyeball being sliced open referencing the notorious eyeball-slicing scene found in "Un Chien Andalou". The bombastic single, "Gray Hairs", highlights a Fairport Convention ideology refracted through a verbose John Cale lens, raising the frustrations of aging ("And my hair it starts to gray/As I fade away") to a boiling point by the furious culmination of the song. One of the most crushing singles on the album is “In Response”, a song that cuts past pretense, leaving one reflecting on the raw, naked realities of a relationship that just didn't work, showing both sadness and resolve: "You can shine so bright, and hang out with the lights/but the lights don’t shine anymore.” Themes of personal frustration and loss, are further explored in the quiet paranoia found in the Floydian jam “I Know a Witch”, where notes of distrust culminates in a final night of furious passion as can be heard in the dense synth heavy outro. The album concludes with the fated sea shanty “Lady of the Sea”, where the listener finally finds acceptance within these tales of anguish and longing, as echoed in the repeated mantra “I will remember you…I will remember you…” A final sense of peace and realization. This is psychedelic music stripped of artifice, imagery of bitterness, loss, and beauty. The true anti-hero who never wins.

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Venue Information:
The Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL, 60642
http://www.hideoutchicago.com