The Empire Bar
289 Mare Street, E8 1EJ
£7.00 adv. (STBF)
Doors - 7pm
Sun 02 September
“Wholesome and heartening in equal measure” GoldFlakePaint
“Reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, the Garden State soundtrack, The Wooden Birds and more.” Brooklyn Vegan
Californian-born, Glasgow-based Americana musician A. Wesley Chung(The Great Albatross) will release his debut album as a solo artist on 18th May via Glasgow’s own LP Records. Neon Coast is an homage to the US West Coast, where Chung grew up, and the three most pronounced emotions that he associates with it – freedom, lonesomeness and restlessness.
The songwriter, known for his previous collaborations with Avi Zahner-Isenberg (Avi Buffalo / Sub Pop), Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It / Their There They’re) and Kate Grube (Kittyhawk), was reared on the ‘golden oldies’ – Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, The Beatles. “I’ve tried to explore the three themes of ‘freedom’, ‘lonesomeness’ and ‘restlessness’ through the sounds of Country, Motown and Folk/Americana that I grew up listening to in California” says Chung.
He expands: “In our deep search for meaning/self we become obsessed with self-actualization, and our fear of death pushes us further into our desire for recognition which only leads us deeper into self – this is ‘restlessness’. The tension between individual freedom (negative freedom) and the desire for community, as well as the freedom from death through self-made immortality – this is ‘freedom’. The price of our individualism and negative freedom (which mirrors the western frontier and the landscape of open expanse). This is ‘lonesomeness’.”
Reflecting on the influence his Californian youth has had on Neon Coast, Chung comments: “Thematically, it’s a meditation on my home state, while sonically it’s a straight up road trip album, like a mixtape from a friend. From the start I wanted to make this perfectly-imperfect album that focused more on getting the vibe right than the parts or performance (a main reason we recorded most of it live).
“I wanted to create a mid-tempo’d album that unfolds and reveals itself in its own time, while still being vibrant enough to engage on first listen. That is what makes me think of it as a road trip album, it has a movement that reveals itself over time; it’s like something familiar and well-worn from home that you take with you to the new places you go.”
Chung emigrated to the UK in his adult life to a wholly different and, in many ways, surprising culture, making Glasgow his new home. The Scottish city would be the facilitator to Chung’s band of revolving members and collaborators, The Great Albatross, who’s split 7” with Into It. Over It. was released on Struggletown Records, with the B-side mixed and co-produced by Glasgow producer Gordon Skene (formerly of Frightened Rabbit, Smash Williams, Moth and the Mirror). Skene would also go on to produce the band’s full length. Prior to that, Count Your Lucky Stars records released the band’s EP, which included contributions from Avi Zahner-Isenberg and acclaimed Scottish singer/songwriter Jo Mango.