Wishes & Thieves
These Animals, The Ugly Club (Release Party), Mitten
Fri, January 11, 2013
7:30 pmCameo Gallery
$7.00 - $10.00
Tickets Available at the Door
This event is 21 and overhttp://www.cameony.net/event/200269/
On the group's EPs, Lighthouse and the upcoming Forest Fire, the band plays with those different elements, creating a cerebral sound that also grooves, a digital soundtrack with organic musicianship. It's fire and water, together. "The title tracks to our two records – they're all about fire and water, sonically and even visually. It's going from one element to the next," says singer Jolanda Porter.
The musicians themselves each contribute distinct and contrasting elements, so it's surprising how quickly the band bonded. Wishes and Thieves initially took shape in 2010, when long-time collaborators Mike MacAllister and Joe Higgins found themselves stymied by the lack of direction in their other musical projects. "Collaborating with other people never worked out," says MacAllister. "We decided to do something on our own just to have fun." "From there, it evolved organically," Higgins added.
Though it started as an instrumental duo, the band quickly took in drummer Will Clark and then added Porter, who was a recommendation from a friend but an unknown quantity. As Higgins admits, "We didn't quite know what we were looking for in a vocalist."
Thankfully, Porter proved to be the missing piece of the equation. Her soulful, chameleon-like vocals wrapped around the other musicians bringing warmth and cohesion to the group's sound. "I remember thinking this was going to work after recording the first song," says the singer. "It never felt like I was just laying vocals over tracks – it sounded like a collective effort from the start."
Recording quickly, the band self-produced and released the EP Lighthouse just months after forming, earning immediate accolades. The record landed on Last.fm's "New Discoveries of 2011" year-end list ("It was a nice surprise, even though we were below Rebecca Black," jokes MacAllister) and winning approval from the likes of famed David Bowie producer Tony Visconti and hip-hop legend Mos Def. Porter was even selected as one of Lucky magazine's "Most Stylish Girls in Music," alongside buzzworthy acts Zola Jesus, Rachael Yamagata, Neon Hitch and somebody named Lana Del Ray. The album also birthed the band's esoteric name, as the phrase is mentioned in the record's opening track. "I knew what that lyric meant to me when I wrote it," says Porter. "But we've never told each other why we each liked it."
The group's live show, which sees the band members often shifting between guitars and electronics mid-song while Porter enchants the crowd from center stage, also won converts. "Our stage show is the same concept as the record – we do everything live," says MacAllister. "I hate that moment when you hear an instrument and no one is playing. With us, you can connect every sound to a visual; there's no man behind the curtain." (See and hear the proof at this year's South by Southwest music fest)
For their second EP, Forest Fire, the group composed the majority of the album in the rehearsal studio, taking musical sketches and working together to form finished tracks. Within each song, the vibe often mutates, as "Let You In" starts in a slinky groove and morphs into a upbeat rock vibe. Meanwhile, the growing percussion crashing through the first single "Forest Fire" gets visually recreated in the song's video, where the group trashes a once-sedate living room by the track's end.
The disparate sounds and fiery imagery in "Forest Fire" could serve as an important introduction to the group. "Like everything we do, that song started out one way and ended another," says MacAllister. "I think it all goes back to the elements we bring in. We start with our own individual ideas, rework them to compliment each other and when it's done, we've created something we all really like that, on our own, we would never have come up with."
The pair began emailing each other song ideas and soon began writing music together as Mitten. Written entirely over email, the duo completed a shimmering collection of songs, writing lyrics on buses and at rest stops between Brooklyn and Boston. See You Bye was produced, recorded, and mixed in Katcher's Manhattan office, rising to #24 on Hype Machine's "Most Popular" list.
Mitten has performed their energetic live set with DEVO, Psychedelic Furs, Tom Tom Club, MEN, Sick of Sarah and The Shondes and plays to packed venues all over the east coast. Mitten has been featured on MTV and Out Magazine and their music is currently playing in stores including GAP, Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, Pinkberry, Vans and Puma and has been placed in various commercials and films.
Mitten was honored to be included in NPR's guide to CMJ this year and toured the southeast in January 2012 with Allison Weiss. Maia & Joanna regularly produce video blogs for homoground.com and are currently in the studio completing their debut full length album.
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