Alex Calder Pre-OrderAlex Calder
|Morning Ritual (feat. Caroline Levasseur)|
- This item is a pre-order and will ship on or slightly before its October 20th release date. The first 500 LPs pressed on translucent yellow vinyl, sold first-come-first-serve.
It's surprising that Alex Calder's self-titled album is only his sophomore long player effort, considering the prolifically consistent stream of musical output since his introduction via 2013’s Time EP. Time was a short, solid look into the lo-fi weirdo psych-pop world of Alex Calder's music and, since then, he released his debut full-length, Strange Dreams, Bend - a cassette release of home recordings, as well as another album of tracks he had been quietly releasing over the years under the moniker Mold Boy.
While the forthcoming LP remains true to Alex’s sonic aesthetic, it is a release that clearly exemplifies a moment of artistic evolution and expansion in both influence and the writing and recording process. Alex found himself frequently revisiting Paul Thomas Anderson and old anime films while writing, and drawing influences from acts like Stereolab, Broadcast, Pavement, Arthur Russel, and Kate Bush, to video game soundtracks such as the Earthbound and Zelda Ocarina Of Time.
Of his self-titled album, Alex notes that he “felt more confident saying things in my songs I actually want to say this time. Things I was scared to sing about before seemed a lot easier for these songs.” Perhaps this is due to the year he spent re-working and perfecting demos until they blossomed into fully-formed, dynamic songs -- a process far from the more visceral, off-the-cuff approach he’d taken with his earlier work. “All of my music before has essentially just been demos I’d made at home, and then they end up being records.” This time around, Alex took time and space for himself to discover a greater level of expressive intent behind his lyrics and musical compositions.
The past year has also led Alex to a less insular, more collaborative process behind his writing and recording. Hashing out and eventually recording many of the final tracks at his friend Garrett Johnson’s studio created an environment in which Alex was forced to let outside ears and perspectives infiltrate a songwriting world typically inclined towards isolation. “I was nervous to record in a space that wasn’t my bedroom and that wasn't extremely personal, but having that second set of eyes from Garrett pushed me in a lot of ways and lead me to not just settle for mediocre takes.”
The shared studio environment also led Alex to reach out to longtime friend Caroline Levasseur for musical input on multiple tracks including the infectiously layered and catchy first single “Morning Ritual”. Her delicately effortless vocals float above Alex’s deeper and more rooted delivery. This vocal juxtaposition in turn mirrors the way the sound and tempo of the track reflects a simplicity and carefree nature of living and kicking back, while “deep down it’s about the unwillingness to make a change in your daily life and seeing the effects take their toll.”
The contrast between sound and lyrical meaning is a friction retained consistently across the album's 12 tracks. Opening jammer “Operator” chugs along with a playful, unwaveringly upbeat tone, while telling the story of how a 911 operator deals with constantly existing in the realm of other people’s tragedies. And here, even the narrative contains a double meaning as Alex explains the track is also “somewhat autobiographical about depression. Operating, as in just functioning day-to-day at the bare minimum to get by and make yourself feel happy despite having a problem of sadness.”
This album-long meditation on duality is certainly intentional as Alex explains, “I’m hoping people notice that this is a somber record, but not meant to be a depressing record. I want someone to listen to my music in headphones in their bed if they are having a bad day or to put it on in the background at a house party to heighten the mood.” It’s fitting then that this album be self-titled, as it is a kind of proclamation of self for Alex, an expression, or admonition really, of who Alex Calder is -- the good and the bad, the sad and the goofy, someone who loves to joke around, but is still capable of being serious and expressing himself more personally. For Alex, these dualities are not contradictory, but almost symbiotic - “I feel like the two go hand in hand. It’s a classic sad clown thing.”