Radical Face: “So, collect your scars and wear ’em well, Your blood’s a good an ink as any” – The Chapel (May 12, 2016)

The Chapel, San Francisco
Written by Erica Andreozzi

I first saw Radical Face back in Nov 2014 at Iceland Airwaves music festival, thanks to a girl standing next to me up front who said I MUST stay for his set (and boy was I glad I did). Not having known anything about him, I was quickly taken back by the clever tales that he strung into dark (yet witty) songs — tales backed by sweeping strings (my favorite, the cello!) and piercing percussion. I later learned that Radical Face – the moniker of multifaceted musician Ben Cooper — has “always wanted to write a book,” and so it makes sense that his songs are literally book chapters COME TO LIFE. At the early age of 19, Ben wrote two books that tragically were lost in a hard drive crash; but instead of giving up, he turned to music. “I thought: why not do them as records? There could be a set of people, and we follow their bloodlines,” he says, “and instead of passing down genetic traits, we could pass down melodic patterns that mutate with each generation.”

Taking flight with this idea, Ben began working on a series of records (recorded in the tool-shed behind my family’s house nonetheless) collectively called ‘The Family Tree.’ He explains the 8-year journey here: “It all began from a desire to write my own family saga, only in music form instead of a novel. So I started a series of albums that were all interconnected, beginning with The Roots, onto The Branches and finally The Leaves which I just released. Along the way, there were enough songs that didn’t fit within the length of each album, which I collected into a series called The Bastards. All of the songs are related to the others in some way or another, and this website was designed as a guide to help you discover all the different connections… A great place to start is ‘Family Portrait‘ which is the beginning of the Family Tree, all songs and stories stem from this one.”

This TREE-O of records (Bear Machine Records, Nettwerk Music Group) collectively garnered a strong fan base for Ben both in Europe (especially) and the States, and Ben was able to secure two nights back-to-back at the Chapel, the first of which was SOLD OUT. A down-to-earth Jacksonville native, Ben was shocked to see that all these people came to see him play some “sad bastard music” on a weeknight, and warned them of going “down the bummed rabbit hole.” Although some of his songs are indeed “dark” — ‘Ghost Town‘ (about a guy that ends up on the road cause he murders alot), ‘Black Eyes‘ (about domestic abuse), ‘The Mute‘ (about a kid who can’t hear) — he adds lots of levity in between with his dry humor and hilarious commentary. Standouts for me were Black Eyes, We’re on our way (with some intense hand-clapping that Ben joked was really a way to torture his band mates), Welcome Home (awesome “anthem-ic” sing-a-long by the crowd), and OF COURSE Always Gold (where Ben teased his drummer Nick about messing up the keyboard intro, haha). The encore of The Mute and Wrapped in Piano Strings (an oldie but goodie) were awesome as well, and we all perked up with a smile when Ben muttered “Don’t tempt me” in response to a fan requesting that he “Take his shirt off.” The only thing I left bummed about was not hearing ‘The Crooked Kind,’ as this is my absolute FAVORITE Radical Face song, and I was hoping to sing-a-long to the verse that still slays me every time: “So, collect your scars and wear ’em well, Your blood’s a good an ink as any.” For those of you on the East Coast, you can catch him next in Philly, NYC, and the Newport Folk Fest. A radical Radical Face that you definitely don’t want to miss!

(see below for videos and more detail from the show)

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Too Much (playlist: May 2, 2015)

Too Much

(compiled May 2, 2015)

 EXTREMELY LONG OVERDUE PLAYLIST inspired by new albums from Alabama Shakes​, Geographer​, courtney barnett​, Father John Misty​, and Laura Marling ​. All of these artists I’ve been lucky enough to see at least twice in my lifetime EXCEPT for Father John Misty, who I need to thank Marissa Andreozzi​ and Sylvia Garcia Borgo​ for getting me hooked on him (hot damn). Alabama Shakes and Geographer were two bands who I could not get ENOUGH OF during their 2012 album tours, and I was so stoked to see that they released new albums around the same time this year. Courtney was another artist I was lucky enough to see her during the early touring circuit of her debut double EP, and I’m EVEN LUCKIER to get to SEE HER PLAY in her HOMETOWN OF MELBOURNE in two weeks. Unfortunately I left London JUST AS Laura Marling was moving back from her 2 year hiatus in Southern California (LOVE HER). At least I got to hear the inside scoop of her recent London show from my buddy Steve Paul​. This playlist was also inspired by an INCREDIBLE GROVE down MEMORY LANE with a Jurassic 5​ show in Melbourne last month after not seeing them in 10 years (…man do they STILL GOT IT!). It also includes new songs from one of my favorite discoveries of 2015, Zach Winters (such lovely, calming music). Other new discoveries includes Mansionair, Passenger​, Fleurie​ (reminds me a bit of Daughter​), WAVE & ROME​, Josh Garrels​, and Twerps​ (who I’m seeing tonight at their album launch gig in Melbourne) . Last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, it includes one of my FAVORITE COVERS of Bon Iver​’s ‘Heavenly Father‘ by one of my FAVORITE BANDS of 2014, Highasakite​. If you have not yet listened to the NUMBINGLY BEAUTIFUL debut album of this Norwegian band, you MUST. They are ACE, and turns they were recently announced to go on tour with Of Monsters and Men​ . I love singing along to this ‘Heavenly Father’ cover, as Ingrid’s voice is one that strikes me with a distinctively comfortable resonance. I chose Geographer‘s ‘Too Much‘ as the playlist title track because I had very much missed Mike’s distinct voice and Nate’s haunting cello ever since I first saw them back in Feb 2012 with Cori Freeland​ and Kevin Ramos​, and had waited nearly 3 years for their music revival. Thankfully I was able to get key updates and incredible pictures from Paige Parsons​ (of Paige K. Parsons Photography​) who has photographed them for a review piece in The Bay Bridged​. ‘Too Much‘ also reflects the fact that “days will take their toll if you let them,” and that wrapping up my last month in Melbourne  (so much to do still!) really has been “just too much to bear.” I guess that I ‘Need’ to have ‘Patience‘ so that ‘I’m Ready‘ for this next life chapter. ❤

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You can download all of the songs on the playlist from box.com account if you CLICK HERE:

https://app.box.com/s/wfsrfeetg6yqi9ly1x54blxkauapl7me

(…and you should put it in the order of the actual playlist if you have time…there definitely is an intentional flow to it!)

Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist (note that there are missing songs b/c of access):
spotify:user:1217781739:playlist:5Xp4ujjzPmpOMCKGMhVhBI

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I’m Ready- Geographer

Back 4 U- Jurassic 5

Heavenly Father – Highasakite

Don’t Wanna Fight- Alabama Shakes

Elevator Operator- Courtney Barnett

Hold Me Down- Mansionair

Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)- Father John Misty

The Grass after Winter (from They Were Longing…)- Zach Winters

Across The Map- Wave & Rome

Short Movie- Laura Marling

Too Much- Geographer

Gotta Understand- Jurassic 5

Holy Shit- Father John Misty

Pedestrian At Best- Courtney Barnett

Second Night- Mansionair

All the Lines- Fleurie

Give Me Peace and Rest (from They Were Longing…)- Zach Winters

I Don’t Mind- Twerps

Dead Fox- Courtney Barnett

Need- Geographer

Walk Alone- Laura Marling

The Ideal Husband- Father John Misty

While You’re Making Other Plans (from They Were Longing…)- Zach Winters

Born Again- Josh Garrels

Gimme All Your Love- Alabama Shakes

Coins In A Fountain- Passenger

Depreston- Courtney Barnett

Patience- Geographer

Morning Light – Josh Garrels