July 6, 2018, 9:00 pm - 12:00 am at The EARL, 488 Flat Shoals, Atlanta, GA
The Bowery Presents:
Friday, July 6th, 2018
Doors 9:00PM / Show 9:30PM
â€œRock and roll is sort of my consolation prize for wanting to have been a writer,â€ says James Alex. Itâ€™s a humble admission from the frontman of Philadelphiaâ€™s Beach Slang, a fiery punk quartet whose raucous gigs often find the songwriterâ€™s earnest lyrics bellowed back at him. Still, consider it a feat that fans are even able to hear those words from behind the trembling walls of distortion that serve as Beach Slangâ€™s raison dâ€™etre. Everything about Beach Slang is loud, from the guitars to its attitude to Alexâ€™s weathered rasp.
Considering that, thereâ€™s something almost cheeky about the title of his new project: Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls â€œchamber pop for outsiders,â€ because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that comprises Quiet Slangâ€™s debut fulllength.
The projectâ€™s seeds were planted just six months after Beach Slangâ€™s formation, when Alex was asked to a solo Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. â€œThat was just me, my guitar and a clumsy excuse for charm. But, yeah, the response was beautifully unexpected and really nudged my thinking,â€ he says. â€œEven now, at almost every show we play somebodyâ€™s like, â€˜I got turned onto your band from that NPR thing. You should make a record like that.â€™â€ A successful solo tour last year solidified the idea in Alexâ€™s mind, but he says he wasnâ€™t content to make a â€œcampfire record,â€ elaborating that he â€œwanted it to have more weight than that.â€
Thatâ€™s when he turned to the projectâ€™s key influence: The Magnetic Fieldsâ€™ Stephin Merritt. Merrittâ€™s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. â€œWhy do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?â€ goes the final lines of â€œ100,000 Fireflies.â€ â€œWe should be whispering all the time.â€
â€œThat just always stuck with me,â€ Alex says, â€œhow quiet can sometimes be more powerful.â€ He continues, â€œIf Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.â€
Though a new Beach Slang record is next up on Alexâ€™s docket, heâ€™s open to the possibility of more Quiet Slang. The projectâ€™s sophomore release, he notes, would contain original songs. â€œI guess I wanted to chase reinterpretation first. I dug the challenge of it. But, yeah, Quiet Slang deserves its own voice.â€
Regardless of its future, however, he hopes the project can convey one simple thing: â€œTenderness. I suppose that sounds overly simplified. But, still, it makes it no less sincere. Look, Iâ€™m trying to soften the world a little bitâ€”thereâ€™s worse ways to be remembered.â€