Alex Zhang Hungtai has been making music under the moniker Dirty Beaches since the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until he released 2011’s Badlands that the project garnered widespread attention. Inspired by his father’s days in a rockabilly outfit, he captured a familiar, aching sound, wrapping the delicate power of nostalgia in an attractive good-bad package of desire-fueled ballads and tougher, punk anthems. While the 1950s and 1960s vibes of Badlands, particularly on tracks like “True Blue” and “Lord Knows Best,” drip with the rebellion and grease of early rock and roll, Dirty Beaches latest offering, Drifters/Love is the Devil, released earlier this year, recalls Hungtai’s early instrumental work while veering into the realm of experimentalism.
The double album owes much of its expansive yet detailed sonic aesthetic to its recording process. Hungtai began recording Drifters while living in Canada, but after splitting with his long-time girlfriend, he relocated to Berlin to finish the record and ended up recording Love is the Devil. As a result, Drifters/Love is the Devil has a transitional air to it. Reserving much of his experimental bravado for the later record (which is not at all the typical “break-up album”), he offers some of the same longing-driven tunes of Dirty Beaches’ last LP while also reaching far into atmospheric, synthetic, cinematic territory.
Dirty Beaches plans to release a limited tape edition of the new double album on his upcoming North American tour. After he makes his way over from the East Coast, he will be stopping at Bottom of the Hill on September 22nd, along with Los Angeles-based outfit Sisu and San Francisco’s own Chasms. If you’ve caught on to the cassette craze a la Burger Records, grab a copy at one of Dirty Beaches’ shows, if only to find out how he fit roughly 75 minutes of music on a tape.
09.04.13 – Societe des Arts Technologiques – Montreal, QC #
09.05.13 – Church of Boston – Boston, MA #
09.08.13 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington DC #
09.09.13 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA #
09.11.13 – The Garrison – Toronto, ON #
09.13.13 – Firebird – St. Louis, MO #
09.14.13 – Exit In – Nashville, TN #
09.15.13 – Bottletree – Birmingham, AL #
09.17.13 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX #
09.19.13 – Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AZ #
09.20.13 – Echo – Los Angeles, CA # %
09.21.13 – The Void – San Diego, CA # %
09.22.13 – Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco, CA # %
09.24.13 – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR # %
09.25.13 – Barboza – Seattle, WA # %
09.26.13 – Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC # %
# with Sisu
% with Chasms
Dirty Beaches, Sisu, Chasms
Bottom of the Hill
September 22, 2013