Darwin Deez

Kickstand Productions Presents!

Darwin Deez

Ponds & Fleshman

Sat, June 10, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Downstairs

$15.00

Off Sale

This event is 17 and over

Darwin Deez
Darwin Deez
“What does this record sound like?” ponders Darwin Deez, when asked to describe his second album, “Songs for Imaginative People”. “Well, I’m gonna tell you, but you have to listen closely…”

It would have been easy – all too easy – to think you had Darwin Deez figured out. He’s the irrepressible pop auteur who rose swiftly from performing at open mic nights during New York’s “anti-folk” scene to playing raucously received shows at SXSW and CMJ. The guy who broke into spontaneous, synchronized dances on stage, be it at music festivals around the world or his own sold out headline shows. The mischievous musical sprite who wrote songs that were as infectious as they were offbeat, songs like “Constellations” and “Radar Detector” which became bona fide hits and lodged themselves in the brains for days. He’s the one who brought some much needed verve and colour to the dreary indie landscape and became one of our most off-kilter and much-loved popstars with his self-titled debut LP, released in 2010. But scratch a little deeper beneath the surface and you would have found more depth and melancholy than quirky first appearances might necessarily have suggested, and a sonic ambition which reached far beyond merely writing solid gold anthems in waiting.

The first seeds for Darwin branching out were sown last year, when he put his “Wonky Beats” mixtape online. Making a sharp detour from the pristine melodies of his eponymous debut, Darwin traded compelling and intricately rhythmic rhymes with friends like Dev Hynes, Das Racist and Chiddy Bang to create a full-length rap mixtape built entirely from samples from the 1971 surrealist children’s classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

Now, in another bold, idiosyncratic move, comes the sophomore album “Songs For Imaginative People”, or, as Darwin himself puts it, “the antidote to all the bippety boppity boo of the first album”. Not that it doesn’t come bursting with the same density of hummable tunes and mind-bending lyricism, but this time around, the scope is wider, the ideas more ingenious and abundant, the finished product revealing new textures and layers of sonic and lyrical genius upon each repeat listen. Whereas Darwin’s debut deliberately restricted himself to rhythm guitar, bass and electronic drums, here Darwin is going widescreen, amping up production values and exploring new avenues, such as his newfound love for guitar shredding. (“People like Hendrix, Thin Lizzy – these are the guitarists I fell in love with while making the record”, he says). Classic writing, sonic experimentalism, rhythm, and blues inform his palette of sounds, with the perfect balance of virtuosity and simplicity, not afraid to blend more extreme noise terror with layers of cushioning harmonies to echo the emotional quality of human experience.

To make the album, Darwin relocated from the chaotic hustle and flow of New York City to Asheville in his home State of North Carolina, so that he could work and record free of distractions. To say the album was influenced by this change of scenery would be a mistake however. More-so than on the first album, Darwin insists that this record is more personal than ever. “I made it all myself”, he says, “so everything you’re hearing is the sound of one man’s idiocy and grandeur and pettiness and mawkishness and sadness and pride and joy…but overwhelmingly it sounds like me. Which is crazy because it’s a lot different from the last record except for my voice, tonally and poetically. So if you liked my last record, get to know me a little better on this record. And if you don’t know, now you know”.

The resulting album is the most fascinating and thrilling record you’ll hear next year, as Darwin flexes his muscles and moves into unashamedly uncharted territory. It’s there lyrically, as he explores his solidarity with existentialism (on first single “Free (The Editorial Me”)), and, uses the schizoid blast of “(800) HUMAN” as a “prayer for deliverance from the existential inauthenticity of laziness and submission”. His penchant for irresistible melodies is present and correct too, as in “You Can’t Be My Girl”, which is, in essence, a glorious paean to a damaged, and impossible, relationship “you’re sweet but you’re messed up/ your best friend is a red cup”. Whilst, equally anthemic, “Redshift” cleverly uses big-bang metaphor to poignantly dissect the pain of break-up, “Was there a big bang that I just missed? Did an explosion cause a redshift? ‘cos you’re moving away from me, what did I do? The Universe is just an empty space without you”. This is a record so obviously connected with the artist’s life, a record any soul can feel on every level. Witness also “Chelsea’s Hotel”, where rhyming couplets representing the romantic polarity of pursuit pinch the skin akin to stretching the sonnets of John Donne: “I’m not leaving, this is just the place, I’ve been homeless since the dimples on her simple face. And I’ve spent my fortune, I’ve torn the town apart, to build a hotel on her heart”.

At heart however, Darwin insists he’s writing pop songs. “I’ve been practicing (for 17 years – since age 11) so I think I know what you like by now. Well, as songwriters, we all know what you like, it’s just that some of us are still new to the magic of it all and so we get lost in the effortless fulfillment of creation itself and easily forget about editing and rewriting and the audience. Well, I’m giving you a no-magic-distraction guarantee. This is music that I made for a certain kind of people to enjoy. Hence the album title. This wasn’t a demon exorcism and it’s not going to bring you down”.

We’re just scratching the surface. Ultimately, as for what it sounds like exactly, let’s leave it to Darwin himself to have the final say: “I’ve been making music all my life and this is the best music I’ve ever made”.
Ponds & Fleshman
Ponds & Fleshman
Venue Information:
Downstairs
2011 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL, 60647