Astronautalis

Resident Presents

Astronautalis

Chris Farren

Mon · November 13, 2017

8:00 pm

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 21 and over

Astronautalis
Astronautalis
Once you find out that Astronautalis was born to a Texas train man with a nose crooked from bar fights and a pretty Kentucky girl who ran away from home at 17 to become a photographer, it becomes clear that he didn’t stumble into the life of a drifter, he was born into it. With a poet uncle who lived off horse betting and hitchhiking, grandfathers who were spies, sailors, and test pilots, and over 500,000 miles of touring under his own belt, you have to wonder where the tales in Astronautalis’ music end and the life of Andy Bothwell begins. Currently settled (for now) in Minneapolis, by way of Seattle, by way of Dallas by way of Jacksonville Beach, FL; Bothwell has spent almost every waking moment of the last 7 years, on the road, playing shows, earning scars, collecting/giving tattoos, grinding out a cult like fan base, and living up to his proud, storied, and whiskey soaked blood line.

Having started in music over 15 years ago as a battle rapper, Astronautalis’ roots are planted firmly in hip-hop. However, the sounds and styles on his albums are an animal not so easily caged, and his latest release, “This Is Our Science” is no exception to that tradition of wild genre bending. Like previous records Bothwell uses that limitless approach to aid in his vivid storytelling, but where “This is Our Science” takes a turn from tradition, is in the subject matter itself. While previous records read like historical fiction, documenting the lives of the bygone, the footnotes, and the forgotten, “This is Our Science” is pure autobiography. While there are flash references to scientists from the Age of Enlightenment and old dead French mountaineers, these ghosts serve merely as parallels, rest stops in the story of the last 7 years of Bothwell’s romance with the road.

To help shape this memoir, Bothwell called in help from the cadre of musical friends he has made in his travels across 4 continents, and created a sound as diverse as the cast that behind it. Once again under the guidance of Grammy nominated producer John Congleton (Modest Mouse, Bill Callahan, St. Vincent), “This is Our Science” finds rock darlings like Tegan Quin (Tegan & Sara), Radical Face, (Electric President), members of Midlake & The Riverboat Gamblers all waltzing in time to the work of P.O.S. (Rhymesayers), Alias (Anticon/Sage Francis), Cecil Otter (Wugazi), Lazerbeak (Doomtree), and more of indie hip-hop’s finest. The resulting album is the full realization of everything Bothwell has been chasing after for 7 years. Neither a rap record, nor a rock record, it is a work that finally captures the vein popping intensity and high melodrama of his famous live shows. All the while, maintaining the steadfast literary tradition and masterful storytelling of his previous studio albums.

From the pounding drums and thick synths of the record’s opener, “The River, The Woods”, the roots in rap are clear. But, that foundation quickly crumbles as the choir swells on the dark electronic gospel of the title track, “This is Our Science”. After the banging funeral dirge of “Thomas Jefferson” (featuring Doomtree rapper Sims), the record blazes into the thick of Bothwell’s vagabond life with heart breaking road ballad of “Measure the Globe”. While songs like undeniably catchy, “Contrails” (featuring Tegan Quin) and the epic rock anthem, “Secrets On Our Lips” carry an astounding pop sensibility, there is something unnerving behind those big choruses and driving drums. In fact, there is something hiding behind every corner of this record, and much like the road Astronautalis traveled to make it, there is no map, no guide book, no way to prepare yourself, all you can do is press on forward and see what is waiting for you just around the bend.
Chris Farren
Chris Farren
Chris Farren is one of those names that is always on the tip of your tongue. Though he’s been
heavily involved in music for years —and he’s become well­known for his inventive merch,
including his take on the classic The Smiths shirt — Farren is still working on breaking out in the
large world of singer­songwriters. After experimenting and honing his solo work on a few
memorable EPs and a Christmas album called Like A Gift From God or Whatever, Farren is
ready to release his full­length Can’t Die. With it, he’s poised to become known on his own terms
and with his own unique sound.
“I definitely wanted to make something that wouldn’t just sound like another Fake Problems
record,” says Farren. “ I wanted to make something that was poppier and a little less aggressive
— but still energetic and entertaining. Lyrically, there’s some sadness involved but I didn’t want
it to be a bummer to listen to.” The result is a clever blend of pop and gloom, the sort of record
that will keep you dancing even when the lyrics cut deep. Farren, who cited Coconut Records,
Belle & Sebastian, and Magnetic Fields as his influences while recording Can’t Die, has crafted a
record that has a true indie­pop sensibility and remains musically upbeat throughout.
Yet there is an undeniable sadness to certain tracks as well as a heavy focus on death and
mortality. “Like any human, I reached an age where I realized I was going to die,” Farren says.
“Until I was 25 or something, I had like heard I was going to die but once I turned 25, something
just clicked in my head. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m definitely going to die’ and I had a crazy hard time
with it for some reason.” For Farren, who has always worked through dark times through songs,
it was only natural to channel these feelings into his solo album. Take a track like “Until I Can
See The Light,” which was partly inspired by the death of Parks and Recreation writer Harris
Wittels, as well other people in his life who have passed away. It’s about “how weird it is that
they’re gone. You don’t get to talk to them anymore.”
However, Can’t Die explores plenty of other topics, too. In “Say U Want Me,” Farren touches
upon insecurity in a relationship and how it doesn’t necessarily go away with time. “That song is
just about worrying about being a burden to somebody that cares for you because you’re so
childlike or weak ... I just worry about being a drag on somebody else that I really care for.” The
song, like all of the songs on Can’t Die, is a refreshingly honest and relatable track: Farren is
open about the anxieties and insecurities that plague his daily life, whether it’s worrying about
being too much to a partner or just trying to act normal enough to fit in with your fellow human
beings. In fact, the aptly titled “Human Being” reflects that common feeling of being, well, just
different. “I can be very outgoing in certain situations but if I’m out of my comfort zone or of I’m
in a place with a bunch of people I don’t know — like any party that I’ve ever been to — I always
feel like a total weirdo freak,” Farren admits. It’s a fun, poppy track that accurately captures the
vicious anxiety circle of feeling like you should go out but then getting there and realizing it’s not
for you. And then doing it all again later on.

Considering this aversion to crowded parties, it’s no surprise that recording Can’t Die was a
fairly solitary affair for Chris Farren. It’s a truly DIY album; “I wanted to produce my own
record. I wanted to engineer my own record. I’d had a lot of ideas, sonically, that I felt like
maybe if I brought in another producer, [they] would be like, ‘Oh, that’s wrong. That doesn’t
sound right’.” Instead, Farren went with his gut, sometimes even making mistakes but leaving
them in because he thought it sounded cool. (“Weirdo artist garbage,” he laughs.) The album
was recorded in a guest room — one where he’d have to shut off the air conditioner whenever it
was time to record — that didn’t even have real soundproofing. In fact, you can even hear dogs
barking outside in the background. Can’t Die manages to simultaneously have a lo­fi sound
that’s still incredibly rich. It helps that Farren enlists the help of some of his friends on the
record — Sean Stevenson on drums, Casey Lee on guitar, Jeff Rosenstock and Matt Agrella
adding horn arrangements, and Laura Stevenson contributing vocals. Farren’s friends helped
make Can’t Die surpass Farren’s original vision. “It just took it to a place I could’ve never
imagined.”
At the end of the day, however, Can’t Die is a record that is wholly reflective of Chris Farren’s
sound. It’s not Fake Problems or Antarctigo Vespucci but instead it’s entirely Farren’s:
resonating indie­pop that captures all of the weird little anxieties of being in your twenties and
realizing that you can’t control everything around you. “Once I got past that ego­driven stuff and
realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around me, it was a lot easier for me to get through the
world,” says Farren. “It’s heavy! It’s a heavy world.” That’s true, but Can’t Die adds some
lightness, resulting in a record that makes listeners happy while also recognizing that it’s OK to
be sad sometimes.
Venue Information:
Resident
428 S Hewitt Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90013
http://www.residentdtla.com/