There’s something to be said about pairings that are clearly meant to be. At Rough Trade this past Wednesday, we all were witness to a pairing that was definitely meant to be. Having admired Monica Martin’s work with Phox, Jeremy Larson wrote this fourth installment of his project, Violents, with Monica’s unique vocals in mind. From a mutual friend’s Twitter conversation with Martin and a shot-in-the-dark text message, the two agreed to join forces. With their label’s support behind them, a full-length effort was born.
Awake and Pretty Much Sober was the result of the two recording some demos and realizing they’d stumbled onto a connection that was deeper, and worth exploring. The smoky, earthy quality of Monica’s vocals over Jeremy’s lush string arrangements, and delicate piano was the perfect vehicle for Jeremy’s lyrics about the euphoric stages of new love and the comedown thereafter.
A constant high point during the evening was the incredible accompaniment from the string section, Rootstock Republic, and drummer Joe Morin. While the strings were served to further envelop the crowd and conveyed a sense of wistfulness, longing, melancholy, and elation during various points during the night, the drums were a welcomed constant. Throughout the record there is an undercurrent of R&B, bordering on hip-hop, that I found really interesting in how well it worked with such classical arrangements. Behind the performers, projections were displayed, ranging from cult classic “House Party,” to psychedelic swirls, and black and white footage of couples engaging one another.
The night was largely and rightfully dominated by songs off the forthcoming record, but they made room for one cover during the night: Frank Ocean’s “Self-Control,” which was artfully reimagined as an arresting piano ballad that rendered the entire room speechless. The “shared insecurity” that Larson spoke of when describing their collaboration was nowhere to be found during the night. Merely the second time they’ve performed live, they delivered the material with a sense of confidence and ease that once again affirmed my notion of their inevitable pairing.
While Jeremy’s Violents’ project seeks out a new female voice for each new album, I hope he and Monica join forces again in the future because the spark they’ve stumbled onto doesn’t come around often.
Article: Lesley Keller