• At The Buckhead Theatre
• All ages welcome
From Ohio via New York and California, Joshua Radin is a uniquely word-of-mouth success story. Radin only started playing music after college at Northwestern University when he moved to New York City, bought a guitar and began learning to play his favorite Beatles and Bob Dylan tunes. His alternative route to prominence began when a friend gave a demo featuring his very first composition, “Winter", to a TV producer—who promptly used it to score a scene of the sitcom Scrubs in 2004. Other Hollywood types found his music just as evocative, and now various Radin songs have been heard over 100 times on TV shows (Grey’s Antatomy, Brothers and Sisters, American Idol), as well as many films and commercials.
His debut, We Were Here (Columbia), drew critical acclaim and a four star review from Rolling Stone. 2008’s follow up, Simple Times, which hit number one on the overall iTunes chart upon release, saw Radin collaborating with producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith). Simple Times went top 10 in ten different countries including the UK where lead single "I'd Rather Be With You" went all the way to number two at radio. This past year Radin released The Rock and The Tide (Mom+Pop) produced by Martin Terefe (Cat Stevens, Ron Sexmith). He has appeared on Ellen, the Today Show, Conan O'Brian and many others. He has begun co-producing his fourth album with producer Kevin Augunas (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids). Joshua co-produced LP his latest LP underwater, due out July 2012.
A Fine Frenzy is the enchanting musical world of Alison Sudol. And her sprawlingly ambitious new album PINES reaches for the stars. It is nothing less than the story of our age: an elegy for a planet on the brink of catastrophe. Our planet.
A magic-realist allegory about the enduring beauty and awesome power of nature, PINES is a wildly diverse musical adventure and a cautionary tale for the 21st century. “It began life as a children's story,” says Sudol. “Then I thought it would be an album of lullabies. But once I'd started writing, it just kept on growing.”
In time, it grew into the story of nature's fight for survival against the destructive encroachment of mankind. But because Sudol is an artist filled with optimism and compassion, it's filled not with gloom and doom, but with hope for a better future.
"The record begins in a time of endings, where everything good seems to be lost forever," says Sudol, "and then one day, something changes, bringing a flicker of hope to that dark place, and from that hope comes a chance to begin again... to choose a life instead of having it chosen for you."
Recorded over a week of torrential rainstorms in Los Angeles just before Christmas, PINES takes the listener on a voyage of discovery that at once celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the indestructible power of nature.
"It's about facing your fears and going through all the highs and lows, and wonders and delights and tragedies that come with learning how to live your life,” adds Sudol. “And finally finding where you belong.”
The singer-songwriter and passionate environmental campaigner, whose 2007 debut album ONE CELL IN THE SEA spawned the breakthrough hit 'Almost Lover', began work on PINES after undergoing a crisis of confidence after completing her 2009 collection BOMB IN A BIRDCAGE.
“I had lost my way,” admits Sudol, 27. “I was disillusioned, I was suffering from writer's block... life block. Everything was distant and hazy. I knew I had a capacity to feel joy and wonder, and that life had definitely felt like an adventure once, but that feeling had gone. I couldn't feel much of anything anymore. I was pining for something I felt I once had, or perhaps just the idea of it... this record was an effort to reclaim that feeling, instead of just mourning its loss.”
The process began when a close friend fell pregnant, prompting Sudol to reassess her life, and the world in which her friend's child would be born. “I thought back to my early childhood in Seattle, where we were surrounded by nature, and of moving at the age of five to Los Angeles, which had no trees and was quite urban and scary to a child from the Pacific North West
“I retreated at a young age into reading books because they contained so much beauty; so many beautiful places that you could travel to in you mind. For many years I relied on my imagination to be more magical than life because the real world seemed like a disappointing place to live.”
Retreating more literally to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state two years ago, Sudol once again began to dream, surrounded by the vastness of nature. "It was hugely inspiring. I absorbed as much of it as I could and then put that into the songs when I got home." She found further inspiration in the awe-inspiring redwood forests of Northern California. "When you're really deep in the sequoias, it's like being in a cathedral. It's so quiet, and the trees are so ancient. I could feel things stirring deep in my heart, so much so that it was almost overpowering at times. I was so happy there, truly happy, for the first time in what felt like ages."
And so was born a single song, 'Avalanches,’ about a solitary pine tree atop a mountain peak: the last survivor of a once vibrant and verdant forest, sadly surveying the destruction of the forest below until one day, a bird alights upon its branches. This would be the first stepping stone in what became PINES.
Epic in scope and sound, PINES was recorded with a dizzying cast of musical accomplices collected by Sudol's chosen producer, Keefus Green, whose credits as a musician range from rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube to bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss, jazz diva Cassandra Wilson, and punk legend Iggy Pop.
"Keefus is the kindest person in the world, soft spoken and humble, and he brings out the best in people, but his mind is also a musical carnival. Some of the things that came out of it made me laugh - they were so wonderful and unexpected. We had a lot of fun."
To inspire the musicians, who included longtime A Fine Frenzy collaborator Omar Cowan (guitar) and acclaimed producer-musicians Jon Brion (guitar, synth, pump organ) and Jonathan Wilson (drums, percussion, ukulele), Sudol decorated the historic Capitol Records studio in Hollywood with boughs of pine, film slides of national parks, and fairy lights. She meticulously explained her vision for every song - “I told them about the natural environment, how each place would feel - even the weather” and the musicians played in a miniature village of individual 'huts' around Sudol's piano, with drummer Wilson in a separate 'Eagle's Nest' overhead.
"It was thrilling, working with such gifted people. It was like Christmas every day, wondering what colors and textures they would bring to the next song when we opened it up. We tracked everything live, with everyone playing at once. It was an incredible feeling - your whole body sort of hums with the energy of it. I found myself thinking, ‘Just stay out of the way,’ midway through takes that were going perfectly... because at that point, you're really just part of something bigger than you and the best thing you can do is surrender to it."
Just seven days later, a suitably biblical time frame for the creation of a magical new world - they had brought to life Sudol's dazzling hymn to the natural world.
There are still lullabies, like the haunting, childlike 'Dream In The Dark.' There are wistful reminiscences, such as the elegaic 'River Song.' There are gentle interludes like the instrumental 'Dance Of The Grey Whales' and there are euphoric anthems such as 'It's Alive' and 'Now Is The Start,' two hit singles in waiting. Plus much more besides.
Sudol explores her musical world in minute detail, giving each song space to breathe. A multitude of instruments and effects are featured, including a birdsong she recorded herself in the redwood forests and at one point, a squeaking piano chair transformed into a creaking ship's deck. But never at the expense of the song's integrity; even when that meant making songs seven minutes long. "Even before we went into the studio, I made a conscious decision to use space, and not try to cram every song into three-and-a-half minutes," she explains. "I wanted to allow the listener to really sink into the music and the emotion, and be allowed to stay there for a little while."
Even though the recording of PINES is completed, this story has only just begun. A book based on the fable is already under way, and Sudol has completed the script for a companion film, too. PINES contains its own universe, but it also marks the beginning of another chapter in the ongoing adventure of A Fine Frenzy.
Alison Sudol serves as an ambassador for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and performed at the 2011 Environmental Media Awards. She is also a member of TakePart, the social action network of Participant Media (motto: "Entertainment that Inspires and Compels Social Change"). She is one of the earliest adopters of Twitter (@AfineFrenzy) and has 1.7 million followers.