Library of Love

Stuart McLamb’s bumpy road with The Love Language The Love Language was created out of chaos. Birthed from the ashes of failed relationships, incarceration and weekday benders, Stuart McLamb assembled his first record under the moniker primarily by himself. The self-titled debut was released by Portland’s independent label Bladen County in 2009. McLamb insists those songs were never intended for anyone other than his ex-girlfriend; regardless, the album became a first-class, low-budget triumph. McLamb was subsequently signed to powerhouse Merge Records (a triumph in itself) and set out to find the players that could flesh out his musical vision. “My first thought on signing with Merge was ‘Oh my God,’” he said. “It’s kind of a sad story but I had started drinking really early that day and ended up getting a DUI that same day. But the day the actual press release came out I laid on my bed and stared at the ceiling for like two hours. I thought about everything and nothing. And since then there’s been some post-Merge self doubt, like is this M Ward-ish enough?” With a looming deadline for completing the album, McLamb found himself having trouble putting anything together. Hanging with local recording engineer BJ Burton (who also tours as part of TLL), the two realized a gorgeously sprawling soundscape steeped in ’60s pop yet never sounding like a flat imitation or trite recreation. Libraries is instead full of engaging melodies and hooks, swooning orchestration and the kind of songs that take root after just a couple listens. For live shows, McLamb formed a band with Burton, his brother Jordan, Missy Thangs and Justin Rodermond. “The first record I did on my own,” McLamb said as the band traveled between Salt Lake City and Boulder. “I put together a seven-piece to play some shows and then three of those people left to do other projects. So when I started doing the recording for Libraries I got to a point where I needed some help. After the record was done I had dates booked for SXSW and so I kind of scrambled to put this band together and we really were able to hone in on the songs much quicker. I got the perfect match of people. So we’ve been a band since March and it’s been great. The songs really come alive in different ways live. It has more of this punk rock or garage feel to it. Of course that probably comes out of creating with five people versus creating with 30 tracks in the studio.” Libraries is anchored by McLamb’s semi-croon, backed with clap-along percussion, marching band bass lines and nuanced keys and guitar. The songs are poppy, not the kind of poppy that will land TLL on the charts anytime soon, but rather the kind of poppy that makes for great and memorable songs. But the album is by no means popsicles and unicorns, fuzzed out-chaotic distortion graces much of the record. Underneath the cheery façade is an underlying desperation and heartbreak. And while the new record’s sound is much fuller than the low-fi debut, McLamb still prefers the recording process to be somewhat less formal. “I really like The Band’s Big Pink philosophy,” he said about recording. “Basically that’s just being in a comfortable environment. The process of recording strongly influences your mood and performance. I look at it like photography, where you’re trying to just get that magical snapshot. So in that sense, some fancy studio in New York City wouldn’t really suit me very well. I need to be comfortable. We’re already working on a small, home studio for the next record. The kind of place with dirty clothes on the floor and lots of instruments. Oh, and dogs lying around. You can’t forget about the dogs.” The Love Language and Union Line open for Local Natives Thursday, Sept. 30, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $13. For more info visit onepercentproductions.com.

posted at 11:56 am
on Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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