Ski Lodge, The Belle Game, Seance Crasher @ Holocene

Monday, March 24 at 8:30pm

  • 21+
We welcome these purveyors of complex, bewitching pop.
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Twenty-plus years of stories, twenty-plus years of perfecting music's craft, Ski Lodge's Big Heart is exactly what a debut record should be: the culmination of a creative force's life on this planet. Andrew Marr, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter behind Ski Lodge, has created a deeply personal record that overflows with lush melodies and insatiably catchy choruses. His songs occasionally deal with dark matters—infidelity, painful break-ups, loneliness, disjointed father-son dynamics—but Marr bathes them in a blissful light ripe for sing-alongs.

"I try to write songs honestly, and a lot of the things going on in my head that I struggle with might be deemed 'dark,' but I don't think that means I can't sing about them in a way that is musically upbeat or poppy," Marr says, from his home in New York City. It's a dichotomy that also translates to Marr's choice for musical moniker. He explains the name Ski Lodge "evoked an image of being warm by a fire, alone or with friends, while outside exists the cold and cruel winter."

Big Heart, Ski Lodge's debut full-length, out this summer on Dovecote Records, is Marr's fullest realization of this hot and cold split. Marr wrote all of the lyrics and music, and played nearly every sound that ended up on the record. However, this was the first time the 26-year-old worked in a professional studio with a producer, the indelible Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, Fool's Gold), over several weeks in Los Angeles. The combination of Marr's intrinsic songwriting and Pesacov's LA-defining production skills resulted in music with fuller breadth and scope than Ski Lodge's previous release without losing any of the wry innocence that made 2011's self-titled debut EP so much fun.

The one exception is the lead single "Just To Be Like You," which was recorded with the full band in Upstate New York using producer Kevin McMahon (Walkmen, Real Estate). Prefix Mag called the track "sugary sweet pop," while Pitchfork warned its readers not to "be deceived by the energetic, hopscotching riff" before lauding the single's dark depths. The song and its accompanying video of cult imagery are an exploration of contrast that fits in perfectly with both the album and Ski Lodge as a whole: deeply affecting and unmistakably danceable.

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The Belle Game’s debut album, ‘Ritual Tradition Habit’, begins with bashful guitars, a soft wave of cymbals, and a pair of ambiguous phrases. ‘Ritual’, a sweetly haunting soundscape, lasts only a few moments before fleshing out a procession of wild and witchy tunes, full of melancholy, mythology and symphonic power.

Led by the hypnotic vocals of Andrea Lo, The Belle Game take intricate guitar and keyboard lines, anchored by dark pop rhythms, and weave them into gorgeous, graceful melodies. . . the end result still retaining the rawness of a boozy confessional. Vancouver alt-weekly The Georgia Straight describes their music as “…a mix of pastoral pop and percussion-bombed art rock.”

‘Ritual Tradition Habit’ was recorded by John Raham (The Be Good Tanya’s, Frazey Ford). It’s a journey through 12 beautifully layered tracks, interrupted by the occasional chant, hymn and instrumental rumbling. Among them the spooky blues ballad, ‘River’, a song about shedding the past, which builds into Lo’s heartfelt salvo: “There’s a place that I found / Full of sins that you’ve drowned / I’ll be your river/ I’ve been your river since we were kids.”

Over the last two years, the band has been quietly gathering acclaim around the world, starting with major festival appearances in support of their two independently released EPs, and subsequent signing with hometown label, Boompa Records. They followed this up by playing coveted opening slots for international pop sensation Gotye and Polaris Music Prize winners Karkwa.


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Holocene

1001 SE Morrison
Portland, OR 97214