Philadelphia’s Beach Slang has provided this world with their take on indie-punk music for a handful of years now. Gritty distorted guitars, grinding bass, and smashing drums accompanied their youthful angst and conflict.
Beach Slang‘s founding member and vocalist, James Alex, set out to re-record the best of what the catalog had to offer. There was a catch though – he would do so while being accompanied by only a piano and cello. The product that was created from this is his first solo project, Quiet Slang, and his new full-length album, Everything Matters But No One is Listening, is releasing May 18, 2018, on Polyvinyl Record Co.
This wasn’t the first time James had experimented with a piano and cello, all you need to do is reference 2015’s Too Late to Die Young. Even the song, Future Mixtape for the Art Kids, was prophetic to this project in its own way, as the lyrics expound “Play it loud, Play it fast, Play me something that will always last, Play it tough, Play it quiet, Play me something that might save my life”. The bold move to switch from distorted guitars and pounding drums – to light acoustic instruments created an amazing transformation!
Playing it quiet and stripping things down did not alter the underlying arrangements, but rather simply lightened and heavily impassioned them. The songs sound obviously familiar to the originals, as the lyrics are performed very similarly to their counterparts. The clean whisper in the vocals gives the lyrics an interpretive edge as they are presented unimpeded over the lighter background instruments.
By creating this clarity in James’ vocals, the weight of the lyrics is realized. They are the same lyrics performed in the raucous original indie-punk versions, where they are presented as rebellious, bellowed out as audible protest signs, with anger and flaunting indecision. The incredible transformative interpretation of James’ writing, when performed with Quiet Slang, is dramatically different. Layered over the piano and cello the words emit the pain, passion, and worry he was writing about. Those audible protest signs turn to pure poetry for his generation, as you feel the extreme depth in his writings.
All of the songs on this album come alive lyrically, allowing the true meaning of the lyrics to cut through. The album is filled with a beauty and passion rarely heard in today’s music. You feel just how lost he is during “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”, and how he yearns for control on “Spin The Dial”. Beach Slang fans will appreciate this album, as it allows the serious messages and feelings to come through, which will even affect how one might re-interpret the original versions.
Quite Slang’s Everything Matters But No One is Listening is an evolutionary step for James Alex who is shedding his tough exterior to redefine himself, for himself. Do not take this album lightly, or pass it by, as this will go down as one of James’ defining moments in his career, where he puts the lid on the past and he prepares for the future.
“Play it quiet, Play me something that might save my life.”
Well played, James.
1). Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas
2). Noisy Heaven
3). Future Mixtape For The Art Kids
4). Filthy Luck
5). Dirty Cigarettes
6). Too Late To Die Young
7). Spin The Dial
8). Young Hearts
05/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
05/17 – Allston, MA @ Great Scott
05/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
05/19 – Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
06/11 – Toronto, ON @ Drake Hotel
06/12 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
06/14 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee
06/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
06/16 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
06/18 – Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
06/21 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
06/22 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
06/23 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
06/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Café Du Nord
06/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Moroccan Lounge
06/27 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
06/29 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
06/30 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
07/02 – Austin, TX @ Barracuda
07/03 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
07/05 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
07/06 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
07/07 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
07/08 – Richmond, VA @ Chilton House
Journalist: Allen Heimberger