Portland (by way of Denver) band Alameda releases their second album September 15th in Procession, a lush but also spacious collection of songs from the quintet that manages to up the ante over what was a solid debut in Seasons/Specters. That it also comes in the still early stages of frontman Stirling Myles' development as a singer and songwriter (he played bass along with cellist and fellow Alamedan Jessie Dettwiler in the now defunct Strangers Die Every Day) perhaps makes it all the more impressive. Stream Procession in its entirety below.
We asked Myles a few questions about the band and the new record ahead of the release show this Saturday at the Someday Lounge.
opbmusic: What is Alameda? Where did it come from? How did it get here?
SM: Alameda got here by a variety of places, first from my naive idea to start playing shows after playing guitar and singing for about two months. Jessie, the cellist and myself have played in another project since our Colorado days, it was an instrumental post-rock band, and this was a complete inversion of that. We soon assembled players that were interested in the project over the last two years, and have landed on a special chemistry and group of people. Alameda got here via hardcore basement shows, classical ensembles, metal shows, and jazz groups - we're all coming from pretty diverse musical backgrounds and it's a wonderful combination of perspectives going in a flurry when we're writing and arranging.
opbmusic: What were/are the differences in writing and recording for Procession versus your debut? How do you feel that manifests itself on the records?
SM: This project started from a place of seeing if I could even write a song to begin with, apparently the rest of the band liked it enough to stick it out. Our first album (Seasons/Spectres) was an exploration of how to write a song together and get as close as we could to fully conveying what we wanted to. Procession has more confidence to it, and I feel it's a more grounding album that is moving more in the direction of clear expression and finding our own voices and sound. Each album has had it's songs that we've fought with, and songs that have come out of nowhere and have come fully into form effortlessly. There are pieces that we've spent months on, and labored over only to scrap and rearrange it, and there are songs like "Summer Dharma," where in a fit of food poisoning, found a strange inspiration and wrote that piece mostly in a day. Working with Skyler (Norwood) on both albums has been amazing, and he's been a huge supportive force in engineering and recording. All in all, I personally find that this album is movement away from my previous insecurities and more into a good footing.
opbmusic: What has been the most unexpected part of making this new record, either positive or negative?
SM: The most unexpected part for me was when we finished recording the album and were hearing the songs back to back and all in order. I noticed themes that I didn't hear before and a narrative that was either subconscious or fully aware. When listening to the songs in context of the others, they feel like conversations with each other. It's a great feeling when the album starts to have a life of it's own and it doesn't feel like you wrote it anymore. In reflection, you can say this about any year, but this was a particularly intense year for all of us. As a group, we've experienced loss, death, transitions, travel, becoming parents, joy, and growth to name a few - and I realize that all of that exposed itself in the album, in how we all play music together, and the noises that surface.
opbmusic: Many of the songs on Procession have a spaciousness about them. How conscious is that quality for you?
SM: We take each song one at a time and figure out what the song needs, rather than forcing elements into it. I think that some of the space comes from wanting a space for reflection. I've always been drawn to traditional Japanese music, and the idea of silence being perfect. There needs to be intention with how you fill space, and the last thing I want to do is yammer through it with lyrics explaining a mood instead of implying it. I can't say I was conscious about everything with album, I think that the use of space was something that maybe we were all wanting to hear this time around.
Alameda celebrates the release of Procession this Saturday night (9/1) at the Someday Lounge with a bill including Ezza Rose and Hip Hatchet. The album's out officially September 15th on False Migration--
listen to the whole of it below.
UPDATE: The window for streaming the full record has passed, but you can still hear "Summer Dharma" from Procession below.