915 U St
Washington, D.C., District of Columbia

02/07/2009 08:00 PM - Velvet Lounge [Edit] [Cancel]
915 U Street NW
Washington, Washington DC 20001
Description:Clock Hands Strangle, The Laughing Man, Wicked Hemlocks +TBA

Wicked Hemlocks Elevate Psychedelia To New Heights

Brooklyn-based Wicked Hemlocks merges psych-rock with euphoric pop melody and experimental flourishes—evoking Syd Barret, Silver Apples, and Spaceman 3. Despite the nod to such legendary artists, the band remains startlingly original and innovative, warping idle minds with new sonic experiences and doses of fractured pop perfection. Wicked Hemlocks is Ned Shatzer (guitar/vocals), Jamie Schmitz (percussion), Brian McCorkle (bass/vocals) and Michael Hanf (synth/vocals). The band will release its awe-inspiring self-titled album at New York City’s Piano’s on February 28th.

Wicked Hemlocks began when Ned and Jamie aborted a 2007 effort to create the soundtrack to an avant-garde short film. The duo had met in 2006 through a friend, and although Ned was coming from a garage-punk background and Jamie from an electronic one, they were able to meet in the middle and plant the seeds of the psychedelic landscape that would grow into Wicked Hemlocks. According to Ned, “The Idea was to work backwards and create music with the vision of a film, and then create the film for the music. I had a vision of an underground, cultish secret society in New York that performed rituals and ceremonies cloaked in the candle-lit shadows of a dingy Brooklyn warehouse.” With this macabre imagery in mind, the two set to work on a bevy of haunting, original pieces. When the filmmakers backed out, however, Ned and Jamie were left with a finished score and no visuals to accompany it. Instead of scrapping the material, they formed the Wicked Hemlocks, and put the songs out as an album aptly titled “Quill of the Mad” under the alias label Stick in Your Spokes Records.

To support the album, Ned and Jamie tried to put together a live show with a number of other people, but when that became too complex, they returned to writing and released the “Lonely Places” demo. “As soon as the demo happened we had a clear vision of where the next album was going, and we knew for sure we could play it live, so we kept driving,” Ned says. In February 2008 the duo met up with Brian McCorkle, who was playing as the one-man project What Color is Your Machine Gun. Ned and Jamie found themselves on the same musical plane as Brian, and they decided to head up to Jamie’s mom’s farmhouse in Brattleborough, Vermont, to record. They set up in a barn and, accompanied by some “psychedelic experiences,” Jamie’s stepdad’s beer cooler and some old-school funk records, they began to lay down the tracks that would become their self-titled album.

Several songs on the album were recorded live, such as “Wandering Eyes,” which flows organically; other songs are in keeping with the musical palette of the last release—organ, synth, and bits of noise. The new material also features harmonies and melodies reminiscent of 60s psych-pop. Although Shatzer was initially unsure if the new direction Wicked Hemlocks was taking was right, he eventually realized it was part of the band’s musical evolution. “I had a hard time telling myself it was the same band for a while, but I looked at a lot of our inspiration and how much some of those bands changed over the years and it made me feel better about the ways things were going, ” he said.

After recording the album the band found a van and began playing shows in July of 2008. Michael Hanf (who played with Lindsay Holler and Absalon in South Carolina) joined in October 2008 to solidify the line-up and complete the band’s kaleidoscopic mix of colorful instrumental texture, ethereal vocals, and infectious melody.

–Bill Dvorak

Added by wicked hemlocks on January 29, 2009

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