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The Argentine
Saturday, January 19th • 9 p.m.
Satellite Bar and Lounge
120 Greenfield St.

argentineThe self-proclaimed products of the recession (a positive turn of events: there’s a lot more time to milk the imagination when one is out of work) are crafting a sound unlike any other on the indie circuit today. Brooklyn, New York-bred The Argentine combines driving piano rhythms, wailing jazz instrumentals, elements of tribal drums, and rousing yet haunting banjos to make music that is almost otherworldly. Each song from the band has its own personality, but an encompassing theme prevails as a commentary on our day and age.

Despite being so-called products of the MP3 generation, they’re returning to the days of creating albums which are meant to be listened to as a whole work. Flowing together, tracks one through eight of their self-titled debut record—produced by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, The Sheepdogs, Lotus, Josh Ritter)—speak to the wayward times of the past few years. Lyrics within the very first track, such as, “The sun disappeared and the fog in the morning grew gray,” set the stage for a gripping and inquisitive piece of art.

The Argentine comprises Mike Cades (guitar, piano, banjo, vocal), Tim Graves (guitar), Gary Guarinello (drums), Tara Haggerty (bass), and Philip Panos (piano, guitar, vocal). encore had the opportunity to speak with Cades and Graves about their 2011 release and how their music came to be so unique.

encore (e): Tell me how the band came together.
Mike Cades (MC): I think in many ways we’re a product of the recession. I lost my job (along with half the people I know) in early 2009. A few months after that, my friends started reminding me of the considerable amount of  time I had spent complaining about not having any time to play music while I was working. So, I put an ad out on Craigslist and met Tara and Philip; Tim was a friend of a friend who was dating Gary’s cousin at the time. I think at that time, Tim was the only one of us who had steady work, so we had a lot of time to practice and flesh out ideas.

e: How do you all complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses?
Tim Graves (TG): Philip has perfect pitch and an excellent sense of rhythm, so he basically makes up for all of our musical shortcomings. Overall, I think we achieve the sound we have by knowing each other’s styles. Tara’s bass playing and my guitar favor rhythm over melody, while Mike and Philip’s playing tend to be more melodically inclined. Gary is good at finding rhythmic elements that aren’t being expressed by other instruments. I think that, by this point, each of us has a sense of each other’s playing, and we are able to write our parts in order to complement the other players.

e: Tell me about your experience recording with Bill Moriarty.
MC: We all loved the Dr. Dog records and were working with similar instrumentation (piano, guitars, etc.). I had friends from high school who had worked with Bill in the past and highly recommended him. It was a great experience! He was very direct about what was working and what wasn’t, and kept us on task in a way we often are not capable of doing ourselves. We loved the way the record came out and Bill was a huge part of that.

e: You say the album is intended to be listened to as a whole. Explain why and your concept.
MC: Despite some of the disparate sounds of the album, we had a vision early on of what we wanted the end-product to sound like. Of course, we’re all products of the MP3 generation and have the same tendencies to skip from song to song and not necessarily listen to an album from start to finish. While being guilty of this myself, I really love albums like “Harvest” [Neil Young], or “Mutations” [Beck], “Sumday” by Grandaddy, and “The Moon and Antarctica” [Modest Mouse] that sound like complete works of art with an overarching idea and sound.

In terms of concept, most of these songs were written in 2009 and 2010, when it felt like the country/world was in a complete free fall. My life, and the lives of my friends, mirrored this reality and the songs reflect that, some more melodramatically than others.

e: Your sound is so varied. What musicians influence you all?
MC: When we started working on these songs, I had completely hit a wall in terms of writing songs for the guitar and was fascinated by the possibilities of the piano. I had inherited one from my grandmother the year before and found a book of blues and jazz standards in the piano bench, which I began aggressively stealing chord progressions from. At the same time I was totally obsessed with Elvis Costello’s “Almost Blue” and Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” (the Nina Simone version is incredible!) and started learning those progressions which are all based in sevenths, and these lovely diminished and augmented chords. Learning even a little about that style of writing opened all sorts of doors.

e: How has Brooklyn affected you as musicians?
TG: I can’t speak for Mike’s songwriting, but I don’t feel a strong influence from geography in our playing. Despite the glut of bands from Brooklyn, we have found few, if any, with which we feel a real musical kinship. Some exceptions are Pearl and the Beard and Sharon Van Etten, and St. Vincent (a Manhattanite, but who’s counting?).

e: What are your big plans for 2013?
MC: We’re in the final stages of mixing for a new EP we hope to release in the next month or so. It’s got a similar sound but is a bit more aggressive. We’re really excited.

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