Bedroom Walls
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Bedroom Walls

| INDIE

| INDIE
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"[Bedroom Walls] don't simply ponder their sad-sack nature, they celebrate it, transforming rainy-day guitar ballads into gorgeous mini-symphonies packed with enough vibraphone, glockenspiel, strings, and woodwinds to blow the clouds away." - SPIN Magazine


"Put simply, "All Good Dreamers Pass This Way" is an exceptional and mesmerizing album to fall in love with."

(8 out of 10 blips) - UNDER THE RADAR


"Imagine Stars making an album with Air. Without a doubt, Bedroom Walls wills soon be playing out of every sad person's bed-side radio."

(4 out of 5) - URB Magazine


4.5 out of 5

"If Elliott Smith were still alive and decided to get together and jam with Neutral Milk Hotel, the results might sound a lot like this self-described "romanticore" quintet. Based in Los Angeles, Bedroom Walls crafts dreamy, bittersweet songs that balance a knack for catchy indie pop melodies with a deeply rooted fondness for melancholy moods that recall experimental bands ranging from early Pink Floyd and Talk Talk to Sigur Rós. "You say you've laughed enough/Your closet's stuffed with last year's blues/But you know by summertime/Your suicide's just last year's news," frontman Adam Goldman sings in his airy, high-pitched tenor on the opening "In Anticipation of Your Suicide," and it's difficult not to hear Smith's ghost in lyrics about "records always spinning clues you know you want all to know." It's a haunting beginning to an impressively ambitious album that draws you in immediately and completely captivates from start to finish. Horns, retro organs, vibraphones, glockenspiels, strings, and barely ambient noises all find their place in the band's lushly arranged patchwork of sound. They make fabulous use of dynamics to maximize the emotional impact of a song like "Six Weeks in the Imperial Garden," which veers from passages of aching minimalist beauty to monolithic riffs that lumber and roar, while "Mandy" is a sweet ballad with folk roots and the string-laden "Hello, Mrs. Jones" is a beautifully bizarre rumination on young love. Every track here is positively delightful, but it doesn't get any better than the closing "If the Storm Breaks and You're at Home," a stripped-down acoustic number that sounds like Bright Eyes covering a Damien Rice tune, with Goldman and Melissa Thorne's gorgeously sad harmonies sounding like the wistful angels that must come to visit you as you drift off into a narcotic-fueled endless slumber. All in all, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way is a strange, sensational record that will captivate you from the first listen." - AMG (All Music Guide)


Let your mind play upon the conceit of the L.A. rock scene as a giant house party. There are the loud boneheads crowding the keg, smooth slickster boyz dipping deft fingers into panties, stoned-out spastics staring the walls into ooze, artist-manqués posing in elegant little clusters, fuckers-up on a half-hundred exotic drugs, movers of heavy feet, shakers of provocative asses, and individuals of a punkish cast setting fire to the curtains. Bedroom Walls is the small group of cuties who hours earlier commandeered a neglected room to get wiggy on green cigarettes and old Raspberries LPs. It was inevitable I’d push this door open.

In a town top-heavy with genius it seldom fails to neglect, Bedroom Walls is worthy of giddy note for many reasons, not least of which is a group normality that seems almost perverse. Individually, as in the aggregate, the act is as precious and arty as you please: Co-vocalist Melissa Thorne is a well-regarded painter who’s taught the subject at USC and CalArts; drummer Vanessa Kaufman’s sideline is standup comedy; occasional clarinetist Emily Cummins works in a non-performing capacity at the L.A. Opera; and Donna Coppola also takes keyboard chores for dream populists the Faraway Places. (Bassist Jeff Kwong cops only to being “sexy and Chinese.”) When they took the stage at El Cid last month before an audience of scene dandies and their sweet ones, an atmosphere of coziness set palpably in before the band switched on and began playing. Guitarist/songwriter Adam Goldman, slender with a pretty face veiled by a scruffy beard, coughed apologetically into the mike and breathed, tender as Bobbie Gentry, “We’re Bedroom Walls, and we’re going to gently rock you.”

And so, for an hour, we were diverted with variant versions of the group’s catalog and other soft and purple meanderings. One song wiped into another like a parti-colored Etch-a-Sketch, with the performance leaning heavily on BW’s magnificent second album, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way. A collection of delicate, sloe-eyed, intensely hallucinogenic mood pieces cut into lengths of popsong with titles like “In Anticipation of Your Suicide” and “Then the Narrator Smiles,” this recording moves the bent-genius hermetics of such classic-rock alt-canon as Skip Spence’s Oar and Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs sideways into pinker, saner realms.

A sort of Pete Ham in bunny slippers, Goldman labels his sound as “romanticore,” which he defines as “sighing too loudly and too often; knowing your ex-girlfriend is happier now; minimalist posturing undercut by epic gestures; eating stale cake for breakfast (and lunch); sedatives.” What all this means, among other happy things, is that American indie music is learning to love its battered heart, and Goldman is rubbing in the first layer of balm.

We hit it off at once, as Goldman regards my pink sunglasses with amused interest, remarking that there ought to be a club for people cool enough to wear indoor tint. I assure him there is; it’s called “the Bastard Sons of James Coburn,” and I am its founder. Meeting a few days later in the air-conditioned gloom of Mr. T’s Bowl in Highland Park, Goldman is no less bantering, remarking blandly that “Lou Reed once said something obnoxious to the effect of ‘Faulkner had the South, James Joyce had Dublin, I have New York City’ [that] I would revise to read ‘and Bedroom Walls has the suburbs.’ I feel like we wanna document the inner life of growing up in the suburbs.”

While I’m still blinking at this bit of audacity, Goldman spins off another. “What I was thinking, and you might hate this idea, did you hear there is a new Justin Timberlake record comin’ out?” “Yes,” I allow, dubiously. “I was thinkin’, like, why not make a really, really smart party album?” he chimes excitedly. “Make it like a dance album, but not like punk-pop, electro-punk, dance-punk.” He suggests a party record something like Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, with “three really kickass ballads and the rest just total dance workouts. Somehow, there’s content,” he muses, “but I don’t know how to get to that yet, ’cause I’m awkward starting out with, ‘OK, I’m writing a song about trees now,’ but I think I can get to it. We’re setting the bar high to make a party album that’s intelligent, totally ridiculous, and fun.”

A most atypical rocker, Goldman is from Syosset in the Long Island suburbs, a onetime documentary filmmaker who would occasionally support himself scoring porno movies under the name “Chuck Bronco.”

“I was teaching private school in the Valley, and I got a call for part time,” he says. “Believe it or not, teaching at a school where the parents pay $14,000 for ninth grade still doesn’t pay enough to live on. [Porno scoring] is one of those things that makes great cocktail party conversation, but the reality is totally boring. I’d get an e-mail for a track, and they’d tell me how long they wanted it: four minutes, 15 minutes.”

The composer drifted into the scen - L.A. City Beat


I remember driving down the 405 on my first trip to Los Angeles two years ago. I thought I'd get off the plane, get in a convertible, drive down the highway to a mansion in Malibu, eat a great meal by the pool, and then take a walk down to the beach where I'd be greeted by gorgeous women playing Frisbee or surfing. Well, it was somewhat true. It involved a lot of traffic, smog, and a magical place that the kids on the West Coast called "In 'N Out Burger." The best part of the first two hours of my first visit to Los Angeles was not the coffee I spilled on my friend Heidi's white dress. It was hearing Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse's voice for the first time. He was creepy and beautiful and sounded like he was whispering in my ear. The music sounded like it was playing in my head and not on the car speakers. I loved Sparklehorse, but because it scared me. Since then, I have always wanted to hear a Sparklehorse-sounding band that had that same whisper effect on me, but didn't put me in the psychological funk that Linkous had to power to do.

Enter the LA band Bedroom Walls. Adam Goldman, the band's lead singer, sounds similar to Linkous. The band describes their sound as "Romanticore" and their sophomore album, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way, is a grand orchestral whisper that will live in your head, not in your speakers.

There are many bands that overuse such non-imperative instruments like xylophones, hand-claps, and cellos. This is not one of those bands. The horn stabs, the twinkling of the xylophones, and the crispness of the cello all seem as natural as if the songs were written around the small details instead of vice versa. The album changes from the Big Star of "Who's Been Driving Round For Days" to the Bach/"Street Hassle" intro of "Somewhere In Newhall" to the Simon and Garfunkel intimacy of "If The Storm Breaks And You're At Home."

The songwriting lags a little bit in the middle of this album, but it stays strong enough as to not lose the attention of the listener. There is enough classically infused string parts and twists and turns throughout All Good Dreamers Pass This Way to make you almost more interested in where the song is going and not where it's been. This album instantly reminded me of my fear and obsession with Sparklehorse and for that I admire it. Although now that I've heard it, I know that the essence of having that kind of voice only works under evil. The pop-infused "plays in your head, not in your speakers" aesthetic that I longed for might not be what I was looking for after all. - TRIPWIRE


"In the spirit of The Clientele (only lusher), Bedroom Walls lay in strings, bells, and deep twang, creating a wistful feeling that unfurls like a miniature movie" - THE ONION A.V. Club


"There is no substitute for listening to a Bedroom Walls album." - POPMATTERS


"In Flaming Lips/Broken Social Scene/Pink Floyd fashion, the Bedroom walls show they’ve successfully mastered the use of dynamic composition. Undercast bass lines and a few doses of the melodian add to the disc’s orchestral feel, offering a classical quality that at times seems more in line with Mozart than David Gilmour." - MSNBC "Independent Study"


"Opening an album with a song called "In Anticipation of Your Suicide" might mark a band for life, but when you're L.A. quartet Bedroom Walls, it's more of a promise." - AUSTIN CHRONICLE


Discography

ALL GOOD DREAMERS PASS THIS WAY (Baria Records, 2006)

I SAW YOU COMING BACK TO ME (Giant Pets, 2003)

"Do The Buildings and Cops Make You Smile?" COLOR VINYL 7" (Eenie Meenie, 2006)

"A Species of Idleness" LIMITED EDITION EP (Summer 2004)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Bedroom Walls can leave listeners feeling like they’ve been exposed to something very lovely, but maybe a tiny bit evil. Lingering scent of brimstone aside, it’s an arrangement that seems to make everyone happy. The tricks of the band’s trade are a narcotic grace, a cruel sense of humor, and melodies that draw crooked lines all over the pop map. The L.A. WEEKLY did a good job explaining the phenomenon: "Music has to be liked a bit too much. Bedroom Walls make that easy, playing songs with awkward perfection. It's shamelessly melodic, kind of ambient, kind of spaced-out, surprisingly clever. It's like your little sister on drugs, insouciant and a bit off-the-wall." Or, as Bedroom Walls told the LOS ANGELES TIMES with a sly wink, "We just want to make people sad."

Bedroom Walls formed in 2002 when Seshu Bing, Melissa Thorne and Julian Gross (now of Liars) got together in Los Angeles to arrange the repertoire of ethereal non-sequiturs Bing had been amassing by the light of the dirty L.A. moon. The group began rehearsing songs that would eventually populate their sleepy, infectious 2003 debut, I SAW YOU COMING BACK TO ME. In a brazen act of sublime idiocy, they dubbed their sound Romanticore. Critics and fans liked what they heard – the record earned praise for its stunning textures, shimmering melodies, and dark wit from the likes of ROLLING STONE, THE VILLAGE VOICE, and THE BOSTON PHOENIX, and DJ Nic Harcourt invited them on his legendary KCRW radio show for an in-studio performance. (ISYCBTM reached #9 on KCRW’s album chart the month of its release.) The band expanded to a septet and played shows in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Austin, where they wowed industry-types and Lone Star hipsters at last year’s South-By-Southwest Festival.

Now comes Bedroom Walls' breathtaking sophomore album, ALL GOOD DREAMERS PASS THIS WAY (Baria Records), which has already received raves from SPIN, URB, and the ALL MUSIC GUIDE. Produced by Rafter Roberts (Sufjan Stevens, Fiery Furnaces, Black Heart Procession, Castanets) and mixed by Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, Beck, U2, Rufus Wainwright, Journey), the record finds the band indulging both its melodic gifts and its love of ornate instrumentation. Bing says he was trying to capture the epic schizophrenia of his high school mix tapes: "When you're a kid, you just love what you love without thinking too hard about classifications or sub-genres. So, I would make myself these mix tapes with a Squeeze song followed by a Pink Floyd song, followed by a Smiths song followed by Led Zeppelin. I found one of these tapes when we were starting to arrange this record and I loved the crazy internal logic of it. I wanted to get all of that – the anglo-pop of Squeeze, the mythic bombast of Led Zeppelin, the druggy sprawl of Floyd, the teenage narcissism of the Smiths."

After recording ALL GOOD DREAMERS, the band underwent another transformation, paring itself down to an essential threesome of Bing, Thorne, and Donna Coppola, with outside assistance brought in as the situation demands. Paradoxically, the live sound is more chaotic and unhinged with this streamlined crew – songs that felt like whispered confessions on record now sound like raucous bursts of joy and madness. But despite the sonic shape-shifting, it’s really just a continuation of the mission: to craft a sound that hints at the darker side of pretty things and the lighter side of knowing your ex-girlfriend is happier now.