Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Concert Preview: Big Thief

Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet will bring its debut album to Songbyrd Music House

A true “Masterpiece” has been found in the debut album from indie-rock band Big Thief out of Brooklyn. Now the band is set to appear at Songbyrd Music House in Adams Morgan this Friday.

“Masterpiece” was released last year and has received acclaim from NPR and Rolling Stone.

Big Thief was born out of the musical connection between lead guitarist Buck Meek and singer Adrianne Lenker. The two originally met in Brooklyn on Lenker’s first day in the city after a move from Boston, and quickly formed a “creative bond” according to the band’s bio.

They produced two duo albums together, “A-Sides” and “B-Sides.” Travelling to Lake Champlain with drummer James Krivchenia and bassist Max Oleartchik, the four created “Masterpiece” alongside producer Andrew Sarlo in Outlier Studios, a house converted into a recording studio in the Catskill Mountains.

The soothing “Little Arrow” opens the album, with Lenker’s voice commanding control over each moment. The band’s ability to shift dynamic is clear in one of the album’s best tracks, “Vegas” which features careful baselines, rising drums and a short, yet engaging little love story.

A must-hear from Big Thief is the album’s fourth track, “Real Love,” a culmination of Lenker’s tenderness and Meek’s ferocity on the guitar. No doubt, the album’s anthem about abusive love that lives on through physical pain is tumultuous and infectious.

The album’s first single and title track is focused on the connection and distance that occur between a couple and includes one of the band’s finest lines: “I saw the masterpiece/ she looks a lot like you.” “Animals” is a dance tune with a tight pop riff split between Meek and Krivchenia that makes the song one of the best.

The album’s slower spots with “Randy” and “Parallels” are balanced out by the swelling raptures of “Paul,” a forlorn tale about the horrible final moments of a relationships and realizing that “no one can kiss away my s---.” The confessions and guilt wrapped in each line are vivid and memorable, and reminiscent of summer nights laced with regret.

There is no doubting Lenker’s roots in folk music, as listening to “Masterpiece” is like flipping through an old scrapbook, going through past memories and the scars they’ve left behind.

The band’s appearance on NPR’s Tiny Desk series in September is a fine display of the band’s quirky dynamics with Meek’s unique playing style and Lenker’s soft but powerful command over each song. Big Thief was also named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists You Need to Know” in June 2016. The band recently appeared at SXSW and are set to appear at the Newport Folk Festival and Pickathon this summer.

Big Thief will perform at Songbyrd Music House and Cafe on March 25 (sold out) and April 27.

nturner@theeagleonline.com


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