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Swirlies with Frankie Rose

Wednesday, July 19 2023
door at 7:00pm
$20 advance
$25 day of show
$2 off for SPACE members

Boston stalwarts of all things indie-alternative-shoegaze-electronic-experimental… rock (!) Swirlies kick off their first tour in five years at SPACE.

Formed from the shell of a Go-Go’s cover band named Raspberry Bang, Swirlies began their life in Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 1990. The original band featured Damon Tutunjian (guitar/vocals), Seana Carmody (guitar/vocals), Andy Bernick (bass), and Ben Drucker (drums). Swirlies played live for the very first time on 25 January 1991 at The Alcove in Allston, MA. In these early years, Swirlies wandered the Northeastern Megalopolis with other like-minded people, releasing 7″ records through the kindness of Slumberland, Pop Narcotic, Cinderblock, and other labels. Billy Ruane was often there. In June 1992, Swirlies signed to then-Boston-based Taang! Records. The first two Taang! releases, the What to Do About Them EP (a collection of previous 7″s and new tracks) and Blondertongue Audiobaton LP, were created and recorded by the original members plus other mysterious entities. Our dependence on sacred symbols (embodied by The Ostrich, The Number 11, The One Who Speaks Abstractly On Recordings, and others) began at approximately this time. Sadly, none of these symbols protected us from The Curse.

The first of many roilings of personnel came in early 1993. Morgan Andrews (Madbox, Rock/Paper/Scissors) took over bass-related duties and infused them with his own blend of irritating noise. It was this Swirlies arrangement that made a video with Linsey Herman (Cake and Commerce) for the song “Bell”, and embarked on the band’s first US tour in a stinking minivan filled with fashion magazines. Andy later returned to join Morgan and the band and Swirlies explored the sensual realm of bands with two bass players. Forthwith, Morgan became disgusted and disappeared into the oblivion of anarchist puppetry. Ben Drucker was ousted (unwisely) and went on to use his mind and condensible drum kit quite productively. Around the time that Brokedick Car EP was released, Anthony signed on.

After our first small tour of Europe in January 1994, Seana left to form the now defunct Syrup USA, and guitar/singing duties were taken over by Christina Files. With this group, They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons LP was conceived and recorded over two years at various studios. Anthony was dispensed with in late 1995, and Gavin McCarthy (Karate) took over the battery. Gavin was with us for 1.95 US tours, and spent the remaining 0.05 of the second tour solo-driving his white Econoline across the country (mercifully with the rest of us in it) and out of our lives forever. The drummerless Swirlies played a few liberating analog/digital shows as a trio (Damon-Christina-Andy) before being joined by drummer Adam Pierce (Iris, Dylan Group, Mice Parade).

In 1997, Christina left for other pursuits (including Victory at Sea, Mary Timony, War Bubble, and recording/sound excellence). The Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music LP (our last for Taang!) was released thereafter. This record featured remixes of ‘Salons’ LP material, and new pieces heavily influenced by Scituate, Massachusetts. “Free” from contractual obligations, Swirlies were next joined by guitarist Rob ‘(The) Doctor Laasoko’ Laakso (Wicked Farleys, Kurt Vile and the Violaters).

In September 2002, Swirlies added the incredible Kevin Shea (Talibam!, Storm&Stress, Coptic Light, Sexy Thoughts) to the “Damon-Andy-Rob” arrangement, plus Vanessa Downing (Wicked Farleys) and our old collaborator Ron Rege, for a fun but challenging (thanks to KL) two-week tour of England and the Netherlands mostly with The Telescopes, and a show in London where we were The Microphones’ backing band for a song. Marmite sustained us.

For most of the early 2000s, Swirlies maintained a roughly “Damon-Andy-Rob-Adam” arrangement, while also taking on Mike Walker (Lilys), Ken Bernard (Wicked Farleys, Ra Ra Riot), Kara Tutunjian, our old comrade Seana Carmody, Deb Warfield (Pure Sunray, Gold Muse), Doro Tachler (Igloo) Avery Matthews, and Junko Hemmi (Candycane). These people and others helped make and/or perform songs that became Cats of The Wild, Volume 2, the mini-album, EP, or whatever it was (Bubble Core Records, released 25 March 2003). Subsequently, there was some touring with a “Damon-Rob-Adam-Mike-Doro-and-very-rarely-with-bird-researchin’-Andy” arrangement, but this ended when Damon moved to Parts Midwest (followed by Sweden) to find better living through psycholinguistics.

Since 2009, Swirlies have mainly toured in odd-numbered years, including: a smattering of northeastern US shows (mislabeled “reunions”) in 2009 and 2011 with a “Damon-Rob-Andy-Adam-Deb-Shep-plus guests” arrangement; a longer July 2013 tour supporting Kurt Vile and the Violators with a “Damon-Rob-Deb-Adam” arrangement, plus new recruit Elliott Malvas (You’re Jovian, The Seers) on bass, and appearances by Andy (DC) and Christina (Brooklyn); a 2015 eastern US/Canada tour in honor of our 25th year (the Silver Ostrich Anniversary) with a “Damon-Andy-Adam-Rob/Elliott” arrangement, along with founding member Seana Carmody (Reindeer, Night Spells) and former sound engineer Adam Cooke; and a 2017 west coast and desert tour with Cruel Summer (SF) and a “Damon-Deb-Andy-Elliott-Adam-and-Rob-in-Portland-only” arrangement and sound engineer Dan Gonzales. (In 2017, Ron Rege sang SSD’s “Glue” with us during our LA show on account of the laptop that contained our CS-80 emulator falling over, thereby rendering it impossible to play any synth songs [courtesy of The Curse].)

The odd-year skein was broken in September/October 2018: a Texas-to-Boston tour in support of Nothing, with a “Damon-Deb-Elliott-Adam” arrangement, new conscript Wesley Bunch (Suburban Living) filling in on bass, and junior year sound engineer Dan Gonzales.

In July 2016, a new track (featuring new Swedish conscripts Viktor Hober and Anna Bergvall) was released by Joyful Noise Recordings as part of a subscription, flexi-only series. In September 2018, we released the Swirlies’ Magic Strop: Tonight… EP on red and black vinyl, a collection of Part Time Punks radio sessions and a new song. In 2020, all Swirlies releases since 2003, including Cats of the Wild, Volume 2 and the Swirlies’ Magic Strop series (mostly live recordings) are available via Bandcamp. Taang! Records, who still own our older releases, occasionally reissue those records on vinyl – usually against our will and wishes, and with godawful art when they try to slip things out under the radar.

Love As Projection is the new album by Frankie Rose, her fifth studio LP and her first since 2017’s Cage Tropical. Frankie Rose has forged an enviable musical legacy, from playing with bands like Crystal Stilts and The Vivian Girls but on Love As Projection she takes a bold step into electronic pop production. A sumptuous recorded statement, it dances in ecstasy and broods on the tumult of the western world’s decay in equal proportion. At the heart of the album is glowing, confident songwriting, resplendent in hooks and choruses but still touched with an optimism undimmed.

After spending nearly two decades establishing herself across New York and Los Angeles independent music circles, Rose re-emerges after six years with a fresh form, aesthetic, and ethos. Celebrated over the years for her expansive approach to songwriting, lush atmospherics, and transcendent vocal melodies and harmonies, Love As Projection is a reintroduction of her established style through the lens of contemporary electronic pop. Recorded with producer Brandt Gassman and mixed with long-term collaborator Jorge Elbrecht this is the album Frankie Rose has been building up to her entire career.

More than a rebirth, a refinement, a resurgence, Love As Projection boasts a widescreen scope: a long-form project heavily considered for half of a decade, culminating in the most personal and accessible collection of art-pop that Frankie has ever written. When Rose aims for the pop jugular as in first lead track Anything, the result is unstoppable. A majestic pop song built for radio, it erupts into an irresistible chorus that marries classic epic 80s American pop with the cult effervescence of Strawberry Switchblade “It’s like a prom scene in a John Hughes movie. It’s a hopeful song about abandoning fear even if the world is quite literally on fire… In the end, at least we have each other,”  says Rose. Sixteen Ways further boasts a propulsive, massive chorus, though tempered by a cynicism built in global post-truth, global malaise. “It’s about getting your hopes up, but simultaneously making lists in your head about how it will never work out in your favor.”

The big anthems don’t let up there. On DOA some massive, rolling drums lathered in big mid-80s gated reverb dovetail with a syncopated baseline for the ages as Rose’s vocal sails effortlessly above. The effect isn’t unlike ethereal vocalists Clannad circa Howard’s Way or Enya jamming with Simple Minds in their stadium-conquering heyday. Rose tempers the adrenalin with heart-tugging bittersweet tones and there are plenty of them. Sleeping Night And Day takes its time with an off-the-cuff chorus, swirling around in harmony and chorus-bass. Saltwater Girl picks up the balladeering baton with another nod to album track-mode Switchblade, deep space opening up in the mid-tempo drum track and dense, digital atmospherics. Album closer Song For A Horse, reimagines modern Pop production a-la-PC Music but shorn of the meta-atmosphere. Pianos, swelling synths, minor keys cut through with major. These moments, also seen in Feel Light, offer ballast to the soaring pop choruses — they are big oceans of emotion to fall into before being led out by Rose into a bright new day.