Amanda X's new album "Amnesia" was released at the end of July on Siltbreeze Records. Although the meeting between band and label owner may not have necessarily been clandestine, the pairing was meant to be. The new album was recorded with talented super-engineer Jeff Zeigler (Uniform), who was able to help the group achieve the heavier sound that they were looking for on their new album, guitarist Cat Park went on to say, "I knew I wanted rip roarin' guitar. That's all I wanted. I didn't want the bedroom pop sound or the 'jangle.' I am well over the 'jangle.'".
The woozy guitar and vocal harmonies of opening track "Guatemala" evaporate and fume over a crushing melody and set a tone for the rest of the album, and when heavy thumping beats go on to take up the chorus behind the wail of "My heart will break!" on "Dream House," you feel it, and deeply. The bounce of "Things Fall Apart" is effortless and catchy in a singular style, with a fuzz bass line that chugs solidly, also easily making it one of the album's more 'pop' numbers even as it laments itself. Beyond the heavier rock elements of tracks like "Tunnels," "Parsnip," and "Low and Mean," there are some deeper cuts on the album, and with bittersweet roses like "Nothing Wild," "Paranoia," and the fat and chunky guitar lines of "Woke Up" the album songwriting soars. It was surprising to hear the lightness of "Friendly Tones," ending the album, but it makes sense in its context of traveling through a tunnel of relationship heartbreak, only to find that you've made it to the other side. This is an album of depth from a group that we hope to hear much more from.
You can find Amanda X on tour this month (the band plays NY this Friday and Philadelphia this Saturday), and read more about the band and their collective experiences in the studio and on and off the road, below:
Upcoming Amanda X Tour Dates:
FRI AUG 8 @ Death By Audio // NYC
w/ Two-Inch Astronaut, Wing Dam, Cousin Brian
SAT AUG 9 @ PhilaMOCA // Philadelphia PA
w/ Cassilis, Dog on Acid, Buffalo Buffalo
TUE AUG 12 @ Ace of Cups // Columbus OH
WED AUG 13 @ SoundPony // Tulsa OK
w/ Lizard Police, Bitchcraft, The Daddy-O’s
THU AUG 14 @ Burt's Tiki // Albuquerque NM w/ Mannequin Pussy
FRI AUG 15 @ The Congress // Tucson AZ
SAT AUG 16 @ Kensington Club // San Diego CA w/ Beach Day
SUN AUG 17 @ Gal Palace for Summer Bummer // Los Angeles CA
w/ Girlpool, Mannequin Pussy, Slutever, Tonopah (day)
SUN AUG 17 @ The Echo // Los Angeles CA
w/ Beach Day, Crisis Arm, Airs (night)
TUE AUG 19 @ The Hemlock // San Francisco CA w/ Beach Day
WED AUG 20 @ The Nightlight // Oakland CA w/ Beach Day
FRI AUG 22 @ The Know // Portland OR w/ Beach Day
SAT AUG 23 @ The Electric Owl // Vancouver BC w/ Beach Day
SUN AUG 24 @ The Rendezvous // Seattle WA w/ Beach Day
THU AUG 28 @ Minnehaha Free Space // Minneapolis MN
FRI AUG 29 @ Fury Frat House // Chicago IL w/ Clearance
THU SEPT 11 @ Underground Arts w/ Shonen Knife, Habibi
SUN OCT 5 @ Union Transfer w/ Cloud Nothings, Tyvek
Amnesia Track Listing:
2. Dream House
3. Things Fall Apart
5. Nothing Wild
7. Low and Mean
10. Woke Up
11. Friendly Tones
Girl About Town: Your new album Amnesia was released on Siltbreeze on July 28th. As well as being based locally, what has being involved with such a legendary independent like Siltbreeze meant to Amanda X?
Tiffany Yoon: Tom Lax (the man behind Siltbreeze) has been a figurehead amongst record heads in and out of Philly for over the past two decades. I make it a point to say that he is just one man, because so many people approach us saying, "what are THEY like?" or "What's it like working with THEM?" It's been incredibly informal and downright chummy working with Tom. We all go out to dinner, talk records, talk bands/shows, recipes, what's been going on, etcetera. Then here and there we talk about whatever needs to be talked about for the record and for the band.
TJ has become a real friend to all of us and we're absolutely honored to join the likes of Blues Control, Harry Pussy, Tyvek, The Yips and that killer Guided by Voices 7" "Get Out of my Stations." I feel like we're at a point where we all have a lot to learn from each other. Tom hears about newer bands from us and he shows us bands or recordings we've never heard of. Also, he is a marvelous chef and connoisseur of good eats in Philly.
Initially, I was concerned we didn't fit Siltbreeze. I knew Tom through some mutual friends but not very well, so of course I was completely flabbergasted when TJ texted me saying, "Hey Tiff, down to do an LP if you are." I dropped my phone after reading the text. We were still trying to find our own identity as a band at that point. We were getting to know one another, our instruments and our sound. Tom had faith in us, which really gave us some confidence at the early stages of the band.
Tom has been known as 'the taste maker' for years. He's brought light to obscure and sometimes weird ass bands that no one's ever heard of, and has expanded everyone's palettes along the way. So when I say I didn't know if we 'fit' Siltbreeze, it was because I didn't think we were up to the standards. On a side note, I have to admit that I've been on a huge kick with Australian bands over the past 2-3 years, so just talking with Tom about bands and music has been a real treat.
Having Tom as a supporter and friend of Amanda X has been unparalleled. He believed in us at such an early stage and has continued to support our endeavors in more ways than just the label backing. He's come out to sweaty dingy basement shows when he really doesn't need to and he's talked us up to bands that I couldn't even look in the eye if I actually met them in person. In short, It's meant a lot to all of us to have such a legend like TJ give a shit about anything we do.
What was your writing process like for "Amnesia" compared to your first EP? Was there more intention in what you were writing for the album material or was it just about having new songs?
Cat Park: I don't think we had a lot of ideas on what we wanted to sound like. I think we had more ideas on what we didn't want to sound like. I knew I wanted rip roarin' guitar. That's all I wanted. I didn't want the bedroom pop sound or the 'jangle.' I am well over the 'jangle.' I think we were just writing songs and then including or omitting them as they worked with the group we liked.
You recorded your new album with Jeff Zeigler at Uniform here in Philly. What's the most surprising cut on your new album for each of you sound-wise that came from recording with Jeff?
Cat: I think "Things Fall Apart" was the most surprising. It was the first song we wrote after "Ruin The Moment." We thought it didn't have the same aesthetic as the rest. Jeff sort of rekindled our love for it and now we play it live again.
You have a tour coming up next week. What is the most positive and negative thing that comes out of touring or playing outside of Philly for you?
Cat: We all loving meeting people. I love finding out about new bands. Exploring new places. Finding out more about Kat Bean...
What's your favorite track to play live right now and why is it a fave?
Cat: I still love playing "Parsnip." It is short and sweet and I can play that guitar part in my sleep by now. I thought it would get boring, but it never did.
Conan, Fallon, or Meyers? What's your favorite late-night television cocktail? Who would you try to talk into a beer-run post-show after party?
Cat: We don't have cable, but I've always loved Conan. We could hang hard with Conan. I think he's the most original out of the group.
Top ten 2014 summertime jams for the tour? Who controls the tour vehicle radio?
Cat: We switch off with the radio. I force them into all the pop-punk they can handle. To stay awake I dip into highschool Cat jams. Rancid, No Doubt, Dillinger Four, The Replacements, Less Than Jake, and probably Piebald. Tiff, by far the most cultured out of all of us, will put on something crazy and Kat will usually put on Enya or Pearl Jam... or Kate Bush.
Which song from Amnesia has the most challenging or conceptual content? Favorite lyric/wordplay?
Kat Bean: I don't really think we consider ourselves 'lyricists.' I see what we write musically as the machine that happens to make lyrics work. No part is more important than the other. I enjoy writing harmonies and I feel like a lot of vocal play between Cat and I is present in Amnesia. Finding that balance between all of those pieces (guitar, bass, drums and vocals) was challenging originally. We spent a lot of making this record tightening up everything which is apparent between Amnesia and our EP, Ruin the Moment. "Guatemala" and "Nothing Wild" are perfect examples of this. "Nothing Wild" is probably my favorite song on the record and I remember when Cat showed it to me for the first time and all of those harmonies popped into my head. It was so exciting.
When I sing sometimes a melody would seem to work, but would sound too obtuse or abrasive or maybe didn't have enough bite... But sometimes things like that work and that balance is very delicate, especially maintaining that when we play it live. i.e. Dream House.
Conceptually, I find Parsnip really challenging. I still cry or get teary-eyed when I play it sometimes. It was a strange time in my life - I wanted to be so giving and fresh and new for this person [who] I thought was so deserving of the World and everything good in it, and wanting to be part of their life in any capacity. In those lyrics there is a lot of hesitation and fear, but also this childlike naivety and curiosity as if even though things have been wrong before, they most certainly could never be bad again.
I feel like picking out certain lyrics as favorites is kind of strange. I see them as a whole. The context is completely dependent on the other lyrics to complete the thought. Like one side of a conversation, or just two sentences of a story - you need all the pieces to see the big picture.
With that being said, I have picked some lyrics that I am particularly partial to on the record (which consequently are my favorite songs to play and I think are both good examples):
".... and all the world around me/will close up like a book/it will fit into a tiny box/with no strings left loose" (Nothing Wild)
"I am human now/I am mortal in the most uncomfortable way/and I feel so weird/sitting and wishing you were here" (Parsnip)
Which date(s) on tour are you looking forward to the most? Why?
Cat Park: I am looking forward to Tulsa. Never thought I would say this. The Lizard Police dudes rule and there is this band The Daddy-O's that reached out to us and wanted to play with us. They're not all 21 yet, so we got Lizard Police who is booking the show to add them, but they have to play outside of the bar. On top of that, The Daddy-O's live in a warehouse (I think) and we are going to play an all ages show afterwards. It's just a lot of effort for us and I really appreciate it.
What's your favorite thing to do in Philly in the summer?
Cat: Drive out of Philly and go to the beach. I like going to Phillies games, getting water ice, and standing in the Logan Square fountain.