Kingston After Dark: Macro micro

Burdick and Niss in an indoor mist.

Hello my lovely friends. It’s the time of year where my body starts to ache more from attending rowdier rock shows, where I become hopelessly transfixed on consuming as much lime seltzer and absorbing sunblock as much as possible, and where I continue to bring you some of the best live music, releases, art, meals and deals in the Hudson Valley.

Before we get things started this week, longtime readers of my column may want, and are free to, enjoy a laugh at my expense. As some of you might know, I have a kind of bad habit at times of off-handedly including spoilers of media I have recently consumed, sometimes for big movies or TV shows. But most often over the past few years they’ve been Game of Thrones-connected because I read all the books well before the series and was, frankly, a fantasy snob who was annoyed that one of my favorite things was popular. I now realize that’s a very dumb attitude and you should never be mean-spirited and ruin things for other people.

But I’m laughing typing this because my karma paid me back last night. I went and saw P.O.D. crush The Chance in Poughkeepsie and got home quite late, after midnight, eager to not look online and to watch the Thrones finale on HBO Now before it got ruined for me. As the last 10 minutes of the episode (which I, for one, really enjoyed) was streaming, suddenly, right before the ending, all the power in my apartment went out from a fallen tree limb. Valar morghulis to my sanity.

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A SubFamily affair

Regional taste-shapers and wave-makers SubFamily Records have released your perfect soundtrack for local music that pairs well with late spring and early summer. People who make a habit of following local performers and acts or record labels will be thrilled with recent developments within the small but substantial label’s wheelhouse. Macrofone is self-described as a DIY, multi-bedroom project and they have just released a pitch-perfect EP entitled Happy for Both with the label. Yes, that is right folks — the kids aren’t content to record in just one bedroom these days. We’re very lucky in the Hudson Valley that some of our indie artists prone to self-actualization of their dreams end up on Bandcamp Daily or generally expanding their craft, while remembering to plant seeds and help build up the scene at the same time. Macrofone is maybe my favorite release from the local self-sustaining label yet.

Guitarist and songwriter John Burdick leads the enduring smart-pop band the Sweet Clementines. Drummer and songwriter Sammi Niss releases her own music as Hiding Behind Sound. The pair has played together in a variety of projects including Laura Stevenson, Battle Ave., Matt Pond PA, Pelican Movement, Peter Naddeo and several others. All of those names might not mean anything to the average person but for those who know what I am talking about, rest assured they think that is awesome. The rest of you should probably just Google and enjoy a deep dive into all the work of those awesome projects. 

You won’t mind that Happy for Both is only 15 minutes of new music, as it not only features vocal performances by friends Rhett Miller of Old 97’s fame and chanteuse Laura Stevenson (notably on the songs that book-end the release), but manages to slowly steep your brain and emotions like a blossoming tea in hot water.

“The Goodrich” is a sophisticated mellow and almost classical leaning light indie rock composition which opens the release mentions a divorce and that the subject is happy for both parties in the separation, a healthy attitude under most circumstances.”2.8 GPA for Xmas” is perhaps my favorite, a dreamy and storylike number that also I think is the first time I can remember Burdick dropping an f-bomb. Kudos, my dude. “The Soul Won’t Know Its Part” is a gorgeous and entrancing ballad about the lovely and somewhat sad mystery of the Biblical prophecy-induced love song. There is an admirably gentle self-confidence about this EP that is really charming and disarming, allowing you to really enjoy the songs and be aware that the artists know they delivered something special here but aren’t showboating. “Liverpool, NY” might reference The Beatles but it has more of an Elvis Costello/Emmylou Harris-meets-Bowie vibe about it.

“The idea with ‘Liverpool,’” says Burdick, “was to recruit two friends who are something like rock stars to sing a song that I intended as a melancholic post-mortem on my own rock star dreams — ‘going back to Liverpool,’ failed Beatles. We were kind of surprised how willing and eager both Rhett and Laura were to do it. They are two of the hardest-working people I know, so scheduling it was tricky, but we managed to get it done in one session with both present because Laura was keen to meet Rhett and ask him some critical questions about his hair.”

Happy for Both is kind of a teaser of what is to come,” says Sammi. “We have a great musical and personal connection. This is just the beginning of the Macrofone feed. We have tons of stuff finished and coming soon.”

Check them out at Macrofone.bandcamp.com.

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