This Saturday night, two fiercely independent Memphis artists, Shortwave Dahlia and Grupo Jobu, will share the stage at Nocturnal in celebration of the release of new material by both groups.
Shortwave Dahlia, a New Order-ish synth pop group fronted by Jack Alberson, will unveil their newest collection of songs, The Wilderness. Meanwhile, Grupo Jobu, the project of eclectic local singer/songwriter Jobu Babin, will release Mytheme. Both frontmen spoke to the Flyer this week about the release show and their respective new albums.
The Memphis Flyer: How did this combined release show come together?
Jobu Babin: For our part, it seemed natural . . . the timing was perfect. Both records were completed around the same time. We'd known Jack for some time, and had discussed doing shows in the past, but my other musical activities precluded it before. Jason (Grupo drummer) turned me on to The Wilderness, and I just got to liking it. Reminded me of that strange in-between period where Joy Division became New Order, very cool.
Jack Alberson: It just seemed to make sense. Rather than run the risk of splitting up the audience, why not combine forces?
Flyer: Is there a common thread musically or thematically between the two bands?
Babin: Not by design. Both groups have a very distinct musical source, as in single composers. I think Shortwave Dahlia invites you along for a joy ride, while Grupo Jobu drags in to it you kicking and screaming. I have not seen Shortwave Dahlia live yet, I imagine in that setting we will blur that vague distinction.
Alberson: We are both interested, I think, of presenting ideas that are not being explored in our musical community. That is probably the biggest similarity. That, and incredibly dashing frontmen!
Flyer: Tell us about the new albums.
Alberson: The Wilderness is loosely-themed. Who are we? How much of our lives are the expectations and perspectives of others? Can it be shaped? Broad questions. . . in the end, though, it became more of a background item. We wrote and refined the songs slowly, over a three-year period. All of it was recorded digitally at home, which also had quite a learning curve.
Babin: Mytheme was self produced and recorded in my home studio over the course of four weeks in December '09. About half of the songs were written for the project with Jason and Amy in mind, the others were songs I wrote while in Spain - songs that needed new life. I wrote the songs, and play all the instruments on the record, sans drums. There was a common energy and mood with most of the tracks on this record, they almost begged to be grouped together. It is clearly a 'winter' record: dark, moody, unpredictable. I didn't want include songs that were too 'obvious' or cliche; these aren't songs you sing along to in the car; there are no "singles." Heck, there aren't even any guitar solos. I like weird sounds. . . but with the exception of Kaoss pads, most everything on this record could have been done in the '70's. It could have been titled "Adventures in Reverb."