Interview: A Weather

A Weather

Portland-based A Weather released a new album called Everyday Balloons earlier this March. The latest record is a hushed-voiced gem, but I’ll leave my in-depth thoughts for an upcoming album review. Until then, satiate your A Weather appetite with the following interview. Frontman Aaron Gerber was kind enough to field my highly disjointed questions about the latest record, understated moments, and stuffed animals.

IndieMuse: How do you think the overall sound of Everyday Balloons builds on the sound of your previous record Cove?

Aaron Gerber: I’d say that Everyday Balloons pushes the dynamics a bit more than Cove does. The focus is more on the electric guitars whereas with Cove the acoustic played a more dominant role. There are more cacophonous elements to Everyday Balloons (our guitar player, Aaron Krenkel, uses the word “raucous” which I think is fitting). There is also maybe more playfulness with the arrangements and overall more layering of overdubs. But paradoxically I feel like Everyday Balloons also has a more direct live sound to it. We wanted to use as much of the natural room tone as we could when recording.

IM: A Weather lyrics take the time to appreciate the understated moments of day-to-day life, like in “Third of Life” when you say “Take a breath and brush it off / Brush your teeth and sort your socks.” I’m wondering if your lyrical attention to small but beautiful everyday moments explains the album’s title, Everyday Balloons i.e. admiring the little moments that often go by unnoticed but are kind of remarkable for all their quietness.

AG: It’s important for me to ground my writing in the concrete world. I’m trying to give the listeners those little moments you mention as means of getting their bearings, little recognizable elements one can grasp among the weirder or more abstract stuff. I don’t want to create a narrative or a confessional, but I do like the sense that there is something real going on, even if you can’t be certain exactly what it is. For me the title Everyday Balloons has multiple meanings (the more I sit with it the more it continues to change), and the interpretation you describe so nicely can definitely be one of those meanings. I would never want to create one way of orienting the listener towards our music or my lyrics, or say that there is one over-arching theme to the record.

IM: What are some of your favourite everyday, understated moments?

Hmm. I take walks to the grocery store. I enjoy petting cats that I meet around my neighborhood. Sarah [female vocalist in A Weather] and I love going to Sauvie’s Island (a bit of farmland on the outskirts of Portland) during the fall. Cooking is a big hobby of mine.

Interview continued after the jump…


Cove (2008):

(mp3) A Weather – Shirley Road Shirley

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Interview continued after the jump…

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Johnny Flynn – “Sweet William EP” (2009)

Johnny Flynn

I don’t really know much about Johnny Flyyn, but he strikes me as one of those born-in-the-wrong-era types. The kind of guy who’d be better suited to the sixteenth century, herding sheep with just the clothes on his back and a guitar strapped across his body, sleeping outside every night. Or maybe he’d do alright in the 1960’s, hopping from festival to festival as both attendee and performer, running around barefoot and marking the success of his days by the amount of dried mud caked onto his feet.

There’s an earthiness to his music: the finger-picked guitar, the broad, deep intonation of his accent-inflected voice. And there’s a romanticism to it all, like he’s looking back to some era he’s never been a part of, but one he’d like to give you a glimpse of anyway because he feels an intrinsic connection to it. It doesn’t matter that Johnny Flynn is a modern boy from England. There’s something about him that’s beautifully un-modern, something that he’s embraced and set to music.

But I probably could’ve just summed all this up with a lyric from Flynn himself: “I was born with this story, it’s older than I.”

Sweet William EP (2009):

(mp3) Johnny Flynn – Sweet William

A Larum (2008):

(mp3) Johnny Flynn – Leftovers

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Nathaniel Rateliff – “Early Spring Till”

Nathaniel Rateliff

I saw The Wheel open for Laura Marling last month, and were there actually enough space to permit me being knocked on my ass, I would have been splayed out on the ground about a minute into their set. Lead singer Nathaniel Rateliff has one of the most powerful and affecting male voices that I’ve heard in a long while. He can be real quiet, low and grumbling. He can be sweet, lilting, almost Bon Iver-y.

But what really gets me is when he reaches down into himself: beyond the vibrating vocal chords and the bleeding heart, past the lungs taking desperate gulps of hot air, right down into the pit of his hollowed-out stomach. Then he shuts his eyes against the loud haunt of his own voice, and he just bellows. It echoes inside his mouth, tumbling out in a raw rush before colliding, absorbing itself into anyone lucky enough to be within earshot. But Nathaniel Rateliff booms, so in this case, the term “earshot” has a pretty sizable radius.

Rateliff’s upcoming solo album, In Memory of Loss, will be released on April 27th, and if its first released song “Early Spring Till” is any indication, Memory will be another notch in what is fast becoming an impressive musical belt. “Early Spring Till” isn’t really sparse, but it’s certainly not overcrowded either. Instead, it feels decidedly whole, featuring that gale-force howl of his, resonate harmonies and atmospheric electric guitar strums tip-toeing around the song’s edge.

Nathaniel Rateliff’s music is sad and slow and makes me feel like if he didn’t write these songs out, he just might collapse or implode or something equally destructive. And it’s this feeling of essentiality, this feeling that he really needs this music, that keeps knocking me (space permitting) on my ass. So give it a listen. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself splayed out and overwhelmed on your bedroom floor while Nathaniel Rateliff just keeps surging from your speakers.

In Memory of Loss (2010)

(mp3) Nathaniel Rateliff – Early Spring Till

Desire and Dissolving Men (2007)

(mp3) The Wheel – Whimper and Wail

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Zeus – “Say Us” (2010)


All I wanna do is clap/All I wanna do is sing/I don’t wanna sing another song in anger sing Zeus on “Kindergarten”, and I couldn’t be happier about all the musical things they do or don’t wanna do, because Say Us is a seriously good time. It’s got hand claps, group singing, parlour piano, bumbling bass lines and enough ooh’s and ahh’s to fill a swimming pool.

Zeus make no attempts to hide the fact that this Say Us is a pop album through and through. Sure, it has some buzzing, straight-up rock moments (“You Gotta Teller”) and sure it can simmer (“Heavy On Me”), and sure Zeus can do the buzzing, simmering thing well, but it’s when they give in to every pop-loving instinct in their bodies that the album comes so vibrantly alive.

Say Us has a grinning approach to music that just reeks of good times, often bringing a very Kinks-esque silliness to the songs that I completely adore.  And I could sit here listening to the album on repeat, pinpointing exact moments where Zeus bring to mind other musicians from yesteryear (because their sound can indeed be described with a lot of sounds-likes), but I’ll leave that to somebody else who’d rather pick apart the origins of Zeus’ hook-laden awesomeness than just enjoy the hook-laden awesomeness for all its awesomity.

And check out the equally a-word video for the album’s first single, “Marching Through Your Head”:


Say Us (2010)

(mp3) Zeus – Fever of the Time

(mp3) Zeus – Kindergarten

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Pomplamoose – “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (Aerosmith Cover)

Pomplamoose (Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn) have tried their hands at covering everything from Beyonce to The Sound of Music, so it’s always interesting to see which wildly unrelated road they’ll travel down next. This time around, it’s Armageddon-era Aerosmith. In true Pomplamoosian fashion, the cover is fueled by the winning combo of Nataly Dawn’s mumble-jazz voice and Jack Conte’s intricate, poppy, multi-instrumentalist experimentation.

If you’re a fan of this rendition, the generous Pomplamooses have made it and all of their covers available for FREE download. Right here. How lovely of them. Don’t forget to check out their original material as well—it’s not to be missed. Ha. Ha. Ha.


Pomplamoose Covers (2010)

(mp3) Pomplamoose – Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

Pomplamoose VideoSongs

(mp3) Pomplamoose – Expiration Date

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Autolux – Future Perfect (2004)

Six years have elapsed since Autolux’s last album’s release (which apparently went under the radar as it “never had much support behind it“), but Future Perfect still feels exciting. This lasting interest likely has a lot to do with the fact that this Californian trio takes influence from decades past and decades that haven’t even elapsed yet—their sound is simultaneously before and after.

It’d be just as accurate to compare the band to My Bloody Valentine as it would to conjure up elaborate conspiracy theories that they’re actually a gang of robros from the distant future. Autolux have enough feedback-wrapped shoegaze to keep the nostalgikids happy, but the slick futurism of their whirling electronic flourishes helps keep them relevant.

Future Perfect is cool. Really cool. Honestly, this level of cool should not even be attainable. It’s hard to listen to the album without feeling like you’re standing outside the door of some secret party that you would never be invited to. The kind of party that takes place in a loft or an abandoned warehouse, complete with atmospheric lighting and highly-stylized attendees. But you can put your ear to the door and feel temporarily cool by proxy, telling yourself that your party invitation just got lost in the mail…

Future Perfect (2004)

(mp3) Autolux – Blanket

(mp3) Autolux – Here Comes Everybody

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Leif Vollebekk – Inland (2010)

First feature by Alie, our new IndieMuse contributor.

I have an unabashedly soft side for The Hits of Today: the Cyruses nodding their respective heads like yeah and all those single ladies (wuh uh oh). But after an extended session of top forties, I realize that the radio has really just been rhyming at me in glorified baby talk laid over sick beatz. And I’ve been singing right along with every ga-ga-ooh-la-la, because that is exactly what I’m supposed to do.

But what about words? What about Scrabble-acceptable words used in beautiful, surprising ways? For these and other, non-linguistic reasons, I turn to musicians like Leif Vollebekk. It’s obvious that the guy has some sort of timeless troubadour quality, but what really warms me is his style of songwriting that is more hint than statement. Inland unfolds like a subtle run-on sentence, both musically and with inexplicably satisfying lyrics (The coming and going spirit’s in the door hinges / And I’m sitting peeling Suzanne’s oranges) that explode from nowhere, only to settle in quick and get comfy.

So Leif Vollebekk, if you’re reading this, you’re triple-word score all the way.

Inland (2010):

(mp3) Leif Vollebekk – You Couldn’t Lie to Me in Paris

(mp3) Leif Vollebekk – Northernmost Eva Maria

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