Saturday, March 26, 2011

Music: The Grownup Noise CD Release at the Middle East Downstairs

The Grownup Noise celebrate the release
of This Time With Feeling
For almost ten years, guitarist and songwriter Paul Hansen has been playing comedy shows, providing a musical backdrop for sketch and stand-up. He started at ImprovBoston, and got drawn in by The Walsh Brothers’ old Thursday night Great and Secret Shows, one of the most creative and influential scenes in recent Boston comedy history. Hansen calls it “an inclusive and inspired community.”

Of course, that was never Hansen’s main gig. He plays in a band called The Grownup Noise, which will celebrate the release of its second album, This Time With Feeling, tonight at the Middle East Downstairs with Kingsley Flood, Spouse, and Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons. The whole band has joined in on the fun at times. Hansen and bass player Adam Sankowski played Chris Coxen’s farewell show in February. The whole band used to rock out behind The Walsh Brothers for their tribute to the Fung Wah.

Hansen finds there is a certain camaraderie between the music and comedy scenes in Boston. “I think there's a lot of mutual respect between the two,” he says. “Comedians respect musicians because they think they get laid all the time, and musicians respect comedians because it's so impressive to take on a crowd without the protection of an instrument or band."

The Grownup Noise made its mark in 2008 with its eponymous debut album, a dreamy mix of progressive indie pop, folk, and rock. It’s a sound that’s hard to easily categorize, even for Hansen. "You know we feel that might be our biggest weakness, or strength," he says. "We see ourselves as somewhere in a gray area, between Indie and Americana/Folk. I like to think we're the missing link between the two, but yeah it's been difficult to figure out how to promote ourselves."

The line-up has changed slightly, with a revolving drummer’s chair, but the core remains Hansen, Sankowski, and cello player/singer Katie Franich. They’ve gone the DIY route, driving themselves across the country and back on tours they booked themselves. That experience has made its way into the music. “We've gained some confidence, as well as some scars from touring the country several times," says Hansen, "so I think we're bringing a lot more life into this record."

Feeling picks up where the first album left off in terms of the quality and power of the songwriting. Many of the songs, like “Carnival” and “Just So You Know,” have been staples of the band’s live shows for the past few years, but they’ve added a few twists in the studio. “We definitely enjoy adding little things to the recordings that we can't necessarily get away with live," says Hansen. "For example, the mellotron and Wurlitzer are beautiful instruments, but can be a real pain in the ass to deal with in a live setting. Vintage instruments have a lot of ghosts inside of them."

Hansen is an evocative lyricist, but his songs don’t always follow a linear narrative logic. You get the feeling there are stories behind everything, but you are often left to your own imagination to fill in the blanks. “I'd say about half of the songs come from specific experiences and half come from me trying to get outside of myself and just explore a sentiment or imagery,” he says.

The Grownup Noise is a band on the rise, and they’re excited to be headlining the Middle East Downstairs, one of the premiere rock and roll rooms in Boston, and one with a lot of history. So where do they go from here? “That's a damn good question,” says Hansen. “I guess continue to write and hope that someday a hip Indie label will swoop in and help a brother out. That's if we can convince them were not too folky…"

The Grownup Noise CD Release Party: 8PM, $10. With Kingsley Flood, Spouse, and Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons. The Middle East Downstairs, 472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Ma. 866.777.8932


Gagan Masoun said...

awesome voice .... really great i impressed
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