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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 222 - 10/08/14

Bishop Allen
Lights Out
Dead Oceans

Say hello and welcome to a new Bishop Allen record, Lights Out. 'Here's what went into it: ten years, three full-lengths, twelve EPs, thousands of shows, a move out of Brooklyn, a new home in the wooly wilds of Kingston, NY, time off to score the films Bully and Mutual Friends, as well as an Anderson Cooper 360 special, months of demos, drum tracking in a sweat-lodge attic studio during a July heat wave, a wet fall arranging guitars, bass, and synths in a now-chilly attic studio, the coldest December on record spent mixing, a close call with a frozen pipe and flooded hard drives, and a photo found on a friend's refrigerator.' (Dead Oceans)

Lights Out is the Kingston, NY outfit Bishop Allen's 4th album (and their third for Dead Oceans), following Charm School (on Champagne School, 2003), The Broken String (2007), and Grrr... (2009). Bishop Allen are: core-members Justin Rice (vocals, guitar, synths) and Christian Rudder (additional guitar), plus: Darbie Nowatka Rice (keyboard, strings, vocals), Michael Tapper (drums, backing vocals, synths), and Keith Poulsen (bass). For this occasion, several other players have been involved: Dave Lerner (bass, additional guitar, backing vocals), Matthew Cullen (additional guitar), Eli Walker (additional bass), Ken Cook (backing vocals), Anne Cunningham (backing vocals), and Jon Natchez (horns). Lights Out was produced and mixed by Matthew Cullen in Bishop Allen's hometown of Kingston, NY. When the album was released (late August), their label said: 'Here's what you do with it: Check the weather. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you've still got some summer left -- the bittersweet tail end of it. Get yourself invited to some cookouts, or throw one, and if you still have it in you to get a little drunk or otherwise shut off any sense of responsibility, go for that. Play this record at that event. You don't have to listen too closely -- it sounds great & you're going to have fun with it and feel good. Hey! you'll say, I wish we had this record at the beginning of the summer! True words, my friend. The whole feel, or vibe of Lights Out is summerly pop. With hints of some tropical flavours. Dead Oceans keep on: 'Couple weeks later, summer's over. Responsibility is creeping back in. Driving home from the last party of the season, you keep the record rolling in the car, like you're huffing the last fumes of this night...and now you quiet down & some of the haze in your mind clears...Listen to what this guy's singing. And realize that this record is not what you thought it was at all. Goddamnit! Bait-and-switch! These songs are downright melancholic! Damn right. For the moment, summer is definitely over and gone with here in Norway. But mind you, listening to Lights Out sort of prolongs the wonderful summer!

Listening to Bishop Allen somehow makes me think of bands like Beulah, The Sneetches, or of Montreal, maybe the Apples in Stereo, or even The New Pornographers. Tag them happy, heart-warming pop (of the indie class), and you are somewhere near where they roam. From the opening sounds of the first track, "Start Again" you simply know that you will enjoy and love this album. Lights Out will give you a good feeling. It will leave you feeling good. This is pop music with a big, pounding heart. A warm heart, that is. The twelve tracks glide and breeze by, and yes, this is the sound of summer. Long drinks, outdoor swimming pools, convertibles. Good moods, smile, joy and silly swagger. The good songs are lining up, and you had better listen your way throughout Lights Out from start to finish. For then to repeat it all. It will for sure extend your summer.

Dead Oceans close their description of Lights Out with: 'Stick with me, this is the crucial part. We've experienced our thesis (party) and our antithesis (the abyss). Go home, drink plenty of fluids, survive tomorrow's hangover...and when you're ready, start to wrap your head around the synthesis. It's not just a stunt -- it's not like they're putting Rammstein lyrics to the tune of "Love Shack" & having a sophomoric chuckle over it. Nah. Listen again, think back, and realize...through every one of those cookouts...deep into every laughter-filled late night...surrounded by the best friends you'll ever have...well, damn if that sadness and weariness he's talking about weren't right there with you all that whole time. Damn if he wasn't transcribing the thoughts you didn't even realize you were having.' And, finally they end the whole thing saying: 'Turns out the good and the bad, your youth and your aging -- what's left of them both -- were inseparable. So the record is still fun too! Put it on and dance around your kitchen. Grow 43 minutes older once again and be grateful you spent them how you did.

Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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