Stephen Steinbrink grew up getting parched in furnace-like Phoenix, AR and then moved on up to culturally fertile Olympia, WA where he’s now settled and where the climate has to be somewhat easier on the complexion. It’s also where the riot grrrl movement began in the early 90’s that influenced a whole bunch of bands and styles and likely tonight’s guest as well.
Since 2007 he’s recorded an album a year which naturally led him to lucky no 7 in 2014, «Arranged Waves». The songs featured were conceived on tour, meaning in hotels and trains, planes and automobiles. They first strike the listener as music he’s heard before. Wha? Until it sinks in upon deeper listening that there is a generous slab of sly deception at work here, there’s hooking going on, which is to say that conventional and recognisable musical forms like pop are only used as a frame which he then fills and stretches with his own and very mindboggling creations. This is all done in a style and with a proficiency that The Guardian best described as «…(there’s) something polished and fastidiously crafted about his work, and for all the dreamy harmonies, it’s the type of pop sound that takes real skill and precision.» His words deal with identity, love, memories surpressed, politics in Arizona and tech’s emotional wasteland. Obviously, it puts him in line with the tradition that was and is still exemplified by greats like Neil Young, Big Star, Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, John Cale (that Walesian enigma, boy, is he still going strong) and John Lennon.
Psychedelic and a little scratchy Westcoast pop and a generousc load of Americana performed by a dedicated young musical magician who wears his heart on his sleeve with astonishing and enlightening results. Bright and brilliant, it’s more horizontal music for this vertical world.