Devon Williams, Gun Outfit, Business of Dreams
Devon Williams, 11PM
Following up two brilliant albums (2008’s Carefree and 2011’s Euphoria), Slumberland and Los Angeles’ Devon Williams are very proud to present Gilding The Lily. Williams’ shimmering pop combines his broad musical tastes with exceptional song-writing and arranging skill, and an unerring ear for melody - all of which are in ample evidence on Gilding The Lily.
Devon started recording Gilding The Lily with long-time associate Jorge Elbrecht (Lansing-Dreiden, Violens, Ariel Pink) immediately after completing Euphoria, and over the intervening two years the songs steadily evolved, mirroring changes in Williams’ life that include marriage and multiple intercontinental relocations.
From album opener “Deep In The Back of Your Mind” through first single “Flowers” and the lushly romantic “Will You Let Go Of My Heart?” Williams has honed his trademark blend of power-pop, orchestrated soft-rock and layered, melodic jangle-pop to a perfect edge. The elegant “Games” is a great example of what Devon does best — complex emotions played against a driving pop tune that recalls The Church at their melancholic best.
The aforementioned single “Flowers” is a masterpiece of orchestral texture, with rolling drums, chorused guitars and swelling synths backing a tune that hearkens back to the most delicate 60s soft-pop — while sounding totally of-the-minute. “Puzzle” is pure power-pop heaven, a great contrast to the dreamy “Rabbit Hole” and closer “Gilding The Lily.”
It’s these contrasts that enliven Gilding The Lily_ and the consummate skill with which Williams arranges and executes his beautiful songs that mark him as a truly unique talent who, with this album, has reached a new peak of craft and creativity.
Gun Outfit 10:15PM
The story of Gun Outfit begins eons ago with the wide diffusion of hominid life forms across what is now Africa, Europe, and Asia. Some of these hominids, we now know, were wild freaks. They loved to munch and browse around nonetheless, and as far we can tell, were desperate to persist despite the apparent superiority of Homo Sapiens, who was proud of caring for the lame, especially its various babies, and who consumed dung-grown psyche mushrooms heartily, for hunting purposes only, so that they could kill and explain and love themselves for all time. The Homo Heidelbergensis, the Homo Sp, Steinheim, and Swanscombe, and all the Erectus’s, these strange precursors with odd braincases filled with weird souls and mandibles for grinding bark types, had much difficulty keeping on and instead were commanded by time to vanish into mud embankments and genetic tracings. Homo Sapiens, meanwhile, fell in love with talk and important scribbling and wondered why it wanted to kill itself.
Thousands of years of later, with wild and flamboyant lineages proudly twisting through only a fraction of their conceivably possible experience, Homo Sapiens made Gun Outfit. The entity was bound by the constraints of the actual existing world at birth, and as a result appears conceptually misshapen and physically clothed in pictures. With unprecedented access to technology, Gun Outfit duplicated itself and appeared in the marketplace, and was thus deformed. Hints of self-awareness, insinuations of worldly indifference, and overall positivity of intention were no match for the organizing principles of this world, and soon Gun Outfit witnessed itself building a website to represent itself. The organism adjusts as circumstances shift within the flux of overdetermined possibility. History rushes to explain itself, but its lessons are only quaint in their particulars and ridiculous in their epic generalities. The entity persists.
Predictably, some struggling. The idea of perfection and the ease of exploitation contribute to the ruin of all minds. Reality lazily undermines attempts to represent it accurately in its entire fullness by performing insignificant miracles. By the effort of many years, we approach a meager crumb and are turned away. It returns as we panic and shows us what we should have known.
Business Of Dreams 9:30 PM
“Ripe For Anarchy is a quote from Sandra Cisneros’s poem “One Last Poem For Richard”. It perfectly summed up the songs for me. The album is about living in the moment, shedding neurosis, and the desire to discard the general societal malaise we’ve been roped into.”
Corey Cunningham’s first album as Business Of Dreams was similarly cathartic. When his father passed away, it brought Cunningham back to his home state of Tennessee where he was forced to confront a past he had run away from at the age of 19. “I’d gotten on a bus and randomly hopped off in the Bay Area. I lived in motels and looked for any work I could find. The first person I met was a guy in punk bands named Phil Benson who I ended up starting a bunch of bands with.” The duo would end up writing music together and playing in bands for the next 17 years, including indie-poppers Magic Bullets and punks Terry Malts, who later released three albums with Slumberland Records.
The exercise of making music to cope with loss proved to be much more when Bandcamp and Raven Sings The Blues put the eponymous debut in their year-end lists in 2017. Soon the live version of Business Of Dreams took shape as Cunningham opened for Rogue Wave on a national tour and played scores of local shows with Frankie Rose, Real Estate, and Cold Beat.
With Ripe For Anarchy, Cunningham has honed the songwriting with an eye towards regret, existence, and the need to push on. “When I’m gone you won’t cry for me, focus on the moment, be free”, he sings on the opening track “Chasing That Feeling”. And that’s the mantra here: it’s time to let go.
But Ripe For Anarchy is a through-and-through ode to indie pop, in the historic definition of the genre. “My Old Town” and “N.R.E.A.M.” could be album cuts on a Grant McLennan solo album, “Don’t Let Our Time Expire” and “Naive Scenes” could be The Smiths, the Sparklehorse cover “The Hatchet Song” bears an uncanny resemblance to Australian pop pioneers Even As We Speak, and “I Feel Dread” has the unmistakable earmarks of The Field Mice.
The deeper influences, however, are far more abstract. “I got really into FM keyboards and sampling for this album. The idea of making an album with indie pop songs filtered through late 80’s studio production was intriguing”, Cunningham says. “I was listening to a lot of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Comsat Angels”.
And while he may be more noted for playing guitar in chainsaw-pop stalwarts Terry Malts, New Zealand-worshipping Smokescreens, and Merge Record’s garage rock hero Mike Krol’s backing band, Cunningham is most at home making soft sounds extolling the wounded and dour. “I think music is the most personal of mediums. You can work and listen, you can run and listen, you can drive and listen. And I think I’m a misfit. If I can make the most personal music for misfits, then I’m satisfied”