Hamilton Leithauser with Supporting Act…. Caveman
Had A Dream That You Were Mine is an album of songs Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam wrote and recorded together between July 2014 and February 2016. In the spirit of collaborative albums, not unlike those of David Byrne and Brian Eno, each musician’s individuality remains in tact, while in fact, on this record, both Hamilton’s identity as a singer and Rostam’s as a producer seem to reach new heights. “This was a record I’d been wanting to make for at least a decade,” Rostam says. “As a fan of Hamilton’s voice in the Walkmen, I’d been wanting to capture it in ways it hadn’t been captured before — to make songs with him that placed the crooner right beside the howler, the screamer beside the whisperer — to try to leave no stone unturned in terms of how we should approach the delivery of a song. And also to try to push his voice outside of any musical context it had lived in before.” Says Leithauser, “Rostam’s one-man-band process is so fundamentally different from the way I’ve always written songs, and it’s very impressive. We had no idea what kind of music we were going to make — we actually didn’t know we were working on an album at first — but unexpected things kept falling into place. We were writing and recording everything simultaneously — it was flat-out inspiring just to be there.” Many of these songs seem to take place in a memory of New York’s past, or wading through the waist high waters in a half-submerged New York of the future. Yet what unites them is that they tell stories — I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is an album, a collection of songs yes, but also a collection of narratives. “The Bride’s Dad” faithfully recounts an unexpected (an probably uninvited) guest at a friend’s recent wedding; “You Ain’t That Young Kid” follows the wistful narrator through a night of lost love and transformed resolve. From the doo-wop of “When the Truth is…” to the country pedal steel of “The Morning Stars”; from the piano and organ alchemy of the Band in “A 1000 Times,” to the Leonard Cohen-esque Spanish triplets of “In a Black Out”; the album harnesses the exploding musical styles of midcentury America — which, when melded with the warbled 1980’s analogue synthesizers of “You Ain’t That Young Kid,” the ultramodern sub bass of “Sick as a Dog,” the intimate falsetto of “1959,” and the raucous bar-room chorus of “Rough Going” — sparks an entirely unexpected and innovative style.
CAVEMAN: You can only go so far on cool points alone. Since Caveman first formed in 2010 they’ve claimed a spot for themselves at the center of the New York music scene, become in-demand DJs, toured the world (sharing stages with The War on Drugs, Jeff Tweedy, and Weezer), and gotten love from everyone from Pitchfork to the New York Times. Now the band–Matthew Iwanusa, lead guitarist James Carbonetti, bassist Jeff Berrall, and keyboardist Sam Hopkins–is aiming higher. Caveman is done being an indie rock band playing for indie rock fans alone. They have their sights set on bigger goals, so on their third time around they made their biggest-sounding album yet. Otero War was created over the course of three years, completely inverting the ramshackle methods used to make 2011’s CoCo Beware and their 2013 self-titled LP. This time frontman Matthew Iwanusa has taken the wheel of the creative process, bringing to it a level of patience, precision, and quality that exceeds anything he’s ever done before. Iwanusa wrote most of these songs in the back of tour vans with a laptop and a portable keyboard, then spent years rewriting, examining every part to make sure it was exactly right, and eventually abandoning an album’s worth of insufficiently killer songs before hitting the studio with the band. There the group refined the songs even further, filling them out with arrangements that bring together their distinctive musical personalities into one united whole, showing off the seemingly effortless collaborative energy that only comes with years of hard work. It was more work, but worth it. The result is a whole new Caveman: The songs are stronger and more spacious, with carefully constructed melodies and a more judicious use of folksy four-part harmonies and washes of synthesizer pads, leaving more room for Iwanusa’s instantly memorable vocal parts. Iwanusa’s lyrics have also evolved from vaguely sketching a typical twenty-something’s romantic frustrations to examining larger, more broadly existential matters, like figuring out your place in the world. While Iwanusa’s stepped further out front as a songwriter, arranger, and singer, Otero War is still a group effort made with contributions from the band’s entire unofficial extended family. Albert Di Fiore, who engineered their last album, returns with an expanded role to produce. Iwanusa’s father contributes string arrangements. Longtime friend and New York punk-scene legend Johnny T, who over the years has employed members as bartenders and DJ’s at his bars, helped the band get signed as the first rock act on Cinematic Music Group, home to rappers Joey Bada$$, G Herbo and Cam’ron. Otero War is clearly the most mature album the band has created, but that doesn’t mean it’s a drag–in fact it could be the most fun music they’ve made so far. Iwanusa’s singular vision of blending Springsteen and Wilco’s polished roots rock with the soaring emotional drama of Tears for Fears and the Human League has never seemed clearer, or stronger. From the buoyant vocal melodies that make the opening track “Never Going Back” take flight, to the hip-shaking rhythms that hold up “Life or Just Living” (which Matt calls his best song yet), to the contagious, triumphant mood on standout cut “Lean on You,” the album overflows with the joyous energy of a songwriter and a band finding their stride and flexing their newfound power for the first time. You can hear them enjoying the freedom from the confines of the expectations that have surrounded them until now, and looking out at a much bigger world to conquer
Restrictions: 21 & over