Tipitina's Presents
with Generationals, mmeadows, Amelia Neville
+ mmeadows + Amelia Neville

October 20, 2023
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm CDT
Ages 18 and Up

Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer knew they had balked before they even got home. In the Fall of 2021, Joyner and Widmer—for a dozen years, the beguiling garage-pop pair known as Generationals—wrapped the second of two sessions in Georgia for a new EP. They’d opted out of the process of file-sharing they had used for years. Choosing instead to cut songs straight to tape in Athens, a spiritual epicenter for their brand of twinkling tunes. The results sounded great, but they didn’t think their songs were actually that exciting or up to snuff. Why busy everyone else with the rigamarole of releasing a record when they weren’t convinced by it themselves? Joyner and Widmer scrapped the sessions, relieved. The decision, after all, did not represent some existential crisis for Generationals, some what-are-we-doing-here panic; it was, instead, a validation of trusting their process and respective enthusiasms, of releasing great records rather than churning out substandard “content.” Before the veto was final, Joyner and Widmer were working on songs they already knew passed that test.
Heatherhead is the winning result of that restart. Effortless and endearing, as settling as a long hug from an old friend, Heatherhead is not only the best Generationals album yet but also the one that, after all these years, finds Joyner and Widmer at last epitomizing their sound. These 11 songs are no-fuss, no-filler manifestations of Generationals’ bittersweet beauty, of would-be rock anthems made to feel like cozy sweaters. Maybe it’s the way the thick riff of the indelible “Dirt Diamond” frames a vulnerable admission or how the taut rhythm section of “Hard Times for Heatherhead” buoys a smitten plea, but this record at large feels like Joyner and Widmer digging deeper into the juxtapositions that have long made Generationals so compelling—distinct but familiar, wry but warm, soft but pointed. Heatherhead is the record Joyner and Widmer have been pursuing from the start.
All was not lost down in Georgia, it seems, as the act of recording in the same room seemed to shake something loose for Joyner and Widmer. With Joyner still in the band’s hometown of New Orleans and Widmer now in Wisconsin, they’d grown comfortable passing ever-evolving tracks back and forth, adding parts or offering suggestions to one another as albums steadily cohered. They’d done compelling stuff that way, too. But after abandoning those in-person sessions, they decided to commingle ideas earlier this time. Joyner escaped the Louisiana heat in June 2022 by heading north, the two rendezvousing in Madison with loads of demos. They augmented one another’s takes in real time, shaping songs that fell together like puzzle pieces. When a tornado ripped through Widmer’s front yard and left them without power for days, they took it not as a sign to stop but as an invitation to just enjoy still being the buds in Generationals, drinking warm beer and listening to an emergency radio together.
Back in their respective quarters, Joyner and Widmer went to work with multi-instrumentalist, producer, and pal Nick Krill (The War on Drugs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spinto Band), creating a cross-country file-sharing triangle. They moved quickly, finishing Heatherhead—their sixth LP, but first in four years—that way in a mere matter of months. Despite all their fretting a year earlier about making music together in a room, these songs somehow felt more conversational and lived-in, like two old pals throwing a few back and tunefully singing of toil and joy. The true circumstances are ironic, given that, for 42 minutes, you feel like you’re right there with them.
Indeed, these are the sorts of songs you want to stay with for a while, to crawl inside of and have a look around for all the crafty details. Notice the way the sizzling little riff seems to bounce between the walls of “Elena,” an enchanting collaboration with Sarah Jaffe that glows like a woodstove in a winter cabin. Marvel at the muted funk of “Eutropius (Give Me Lies),” particularly the way the byzantine drum lines percolate beneath Joyner’s cotton-candy falsetto. And enjoy the marvelous seesaw of opener “Waking Moment,” a song that squeezes a dozen dynamic shifts and at least half as many hooks into four minutes that are as cool as a breeze. You can do this with every song on Heatherhead, limn those bits that give these seemingly billowing tunes real ballast; you could, on the other hand, just let them surround you, seemingly simple pleasures abounding.
“Closer to your death than to your birth,” Joyner sings during “Faster Than a Fever,” his voice traced by spring-loaded drums and sighing keys. “You’re gonna be upset to miss your favorite part.” It would be tempting for a band like Generationals—now well into their second decade—to let such an anxious feeling override their instincts. That might mean putting out something they didn’t love or reinventing their approach to chase a fanciful trend. To the contrary, Joyner and Widmer now have a better understanding of who they want to be and how they want to sound than ever before. You can hear it in every distinct but familiar, wry but warm, soft but pointed second of Heatherhead—a perpetually renewing relationship that gave them the wherewithal to pursue these 11 songs, apart and then together and apart again.

Intimacy rears its powerful head in the world of mmeadows. A true collaborative duo, Kristin Slipp and Cole Kamen-Green complement and balance one another in a way that speaks to the depth of their musical connection. On the auditory spectrum, the sounds they create are purposefully close and exposed. From the first seconds of “By Design,” the first song on NYC-based mmeadows’ first full-length Light Moves Around You, the warped and fluid chord progression holds your hand as you step onto the boat, lets you get your sea legs, and by twelve seconds in pulls you tight with a moment of total silence. Then a human breath. Then Kristin Slipp sings. Her words are concrete and liquid, with the words “pavement” and “waves” coming at you fast but never throwing you off. This music allows you in unapologetically, which is intimate as hell.

A mutual respect and admiration for each other’s abilities is the source of this intimacy. Cole describes Kristin’s superpower as her mind-voice connectivity. The way she can hear a song and begin tracking the scale degrees of the melody by touching different parts of her hand. Kristin describes Cole’s superpower as an ability to zoom out and observe their attempts holistically, contextualizing their creations within the big picture. 

Inside the band, they balance one another. Outside, the two offer these gifts to others: Kristin is a member of Dirty Projectors, with writing credit on their 2020 release 5 EPs. Cole, as a sought-after instrumentalist, has crafted horn parts collaboratively with Beyonce, arranged and recorded for Harry Styles and Diana Ross, and performed with Laurie Anderson.

Throughout the record Light Moves Around You, water imagery comes back again and again. There’s talk of the shore, fountains, rivers, the horizon, concepts that feel eternal and constant while shifting all the same. A paradox, if it wasn’t so visible in our natural world. Occasionally a change comes at you in mmeadows’ music that alters your foundation, and the shift can feel positively tectonic. 

Shifts of such magnitude, in the bottom disappearing from the beat, in the voice blooming from an intricate solo presence to a harmonized top shelf choral hook, in the appearance of a trumpet where there once was no trumpet at all, they give the listener the business with a wink of maturity that we are often hard pressed to find in this all-too-modern world. Pop music can become the instrument of a blunt force trauma, mixed as loud as possible, if the sub isn’t thumping the song isn’t worth a damn…bops upon bops upon bops. mmeadows’ songs aren’t bops. A bop is cheap. A bop is sliceable, frictionless. A bop gives it all away. No mystery to be sniffed out. No discovery to be discovered. The music of mmeadows is catchy as hell, but it’s intricate and subtle, and produced in a manner that tells the listener “hey, you’re a dynamic person, as are we. Now let’s dance it out.”

And it works. Three dimensional art pop that makes you dance in the car when the 90’s grade put-your-money-on-it chorus of “Working On Me” hits. When the Stevie Wonder grade harmonic ascension in “Testify” makes you believe maybe not in something bigger, but that someone else can believe in something bigger. Magnitudes we can’t understand fully but know we can count on. Like the freezing northern waves of the Atlantic. Like the “don’t you swim in that” ripples of New York City's East River.  At the molecular level, this water is all the same, same as when GZA raps in “Liquid Swords,” as when Chet Baker plays “How Deep Is The Ocean,” as when Celine Dion sings after we patiently waited three hours for the Titanic to sink. mmeadows is just the next in that rich lineage. Sonically. Cosmically. So dance through the mystery of it all and see if you don’t have a good time.

Amelia Neville
Raised in New Orleans, with the name of her family’s musical legacy, Amelia Neville has been writing music since she was in high school. As a growing musician, she developed her own alternative sound, unlike that of her father, brother, and the rest of her family. Regardless of her sound straying away from the likes of funk and the classic New Orleans influences, however, her father’s beaming pride at any sort of self-expression never wavered. Amelia continues to write, record, and co-produce original music while performing at venues locally. Amelia Neville’s sound can be described as indie rock with hints of dream-pop taking inspiration from artists like Alvvays, Faye Webster, and Julia Jacklin.
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