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Snowden Tickets

Snowden Tickets
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“You go a little crazy,” says Snowden’s Jordan Jeffares, “thinking, am I screwing things up by holding on to them and working with them for so long? Did I do the right thing by sticking with it?” The short answer is an emphatic yes. More than a half-decade after their breakthrough debut album, Snowden has returned and the extended wait has proven resoundingly worth it. No One In Control is a remarkable collection, lit with impassioned creativity and coruscating emotional power. Jeffares – the multi-talented mind behind Snowden – toiled for almost six years, pushing himself and his music ever closer to madness, and that hermetic intensity can be heard in the record’s every finely etched facet. From the syrupy pulsebeats of “So Red” to the nihilistic euphoria of the first single, “The Beat Comes,” Snowden has crafted a vivid portrait of obsession and isolation, of gut-wrenching doubt and ultimate redemption. With its seamless integration of haunting melodies, rhythmic ingenuity, and hypnagogic songcraft, No One In Control sees Snowden’s artistry and ambition ascending to hitherto untouched new heights. Snowden emerged in 2004 and were soon hailed as one of the Atlanta underground’s leading new artists, with MTV linking the band alongside Deerhunter and Black Lips as avatars of the burgeoning scene. Released in 2006, Anti-Anti fully delivered upon the band’s promise, earning worldwide popular success and critical applause for its enigmatic blend of deep grooves and post punk atmospherics. Snowden toured hard, building a fervent fan following via innumerable headline dates and shows alongside the likes of Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon. But just as Snowden prepared their next move, Jeffares found himself entangled in contract dispute that put the kibosh on whatever career momentum he had gained. Trapped in legal limbo, he eased back into the life of a starving artist, subletting and setting up studios wherever he landed, from Chicago to Atlanta to New York. In due time, Jeffares had begun constructing a boldly beautiful song cycle inspired by the seclusion. “I was always paranoid about writing ballads. In a bout of writer’s block I let one through.” He ended up writing quite a few, though unsurprisingly, “they were all a little bit twisted.” Songs like “Don’t Really Know Me” and the title track were marked by romantic pessimism and cynical seclusion, their introspective exploration buoyed by Jeffares’ tricky unification of Anti-Anti’s spellbinding shoegaze melodics with ebullient Big Beat and Madchester-inspired rhythms. “I didn’t want my stuff to have that swarm this time,” he says. “I wanted it to have more kick to it. I was always trying to balance that. It’s a hard line to walk." Time marched on as Jeffares spent countless all-nighters in the studio, tinkering away on the record while also trying to find it a good home. Night after night, he would question his previous evening’s efforts, gutting songs then rebuilding them from the naked track up. The process, he admits, ended up snowballing into OCD. “Everyone kept saying, you’ve got to stop working on this record,” Jeffares says, “but with no good way to release it, I kept tweaking it. I could’ve had a finished record at any point, it just wouldn’t have been the record that I would’ve had six months later.” In 2011, Snowden’s old friends and tourmates Kings of Leon invited Jeffares to join forces with their newly launched Serpents & Snakes Records. With the finish line now in sight, Jeffares considered self-producing the final album, but knew that he couldn’t be objective having listened to some of these tracks more than 500 times. He reached out to producer Bill Skibbe – known for his work alongside The Kills, The Dead Weather, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Adult. – and in November, lit out for Skibbe’s Benton Harbor, Michigan studio for three weeks of sessions. “I made the commitment that I was going to walk in and walk out with a record,” Jeffares says, “and there’s not going to be any messing with it after that.” Having already tracked – and re-tracked – most of the album on his own, Jeffares and Skibbe spent much of their time “experimenting” with guitar textures and vocal arrangements. Longtime Snowden drummer Chandler Rentz came in to lay down an array of taut rhythms and clattering beats based on the original programming. “Bill helped me figure out better ways to get some sounds,” Jeffares says, “more ways to get emotion in the recordings. I’d been messing with these tracks for so long there wasn’t a lot to do to most of them.” Indeed, No One In Control is a remarkably detailed and visceral work, Jeffares’ infinite adventurism resulting in a fully realized aural universe in each individualistic track. With its complex architecture and inverted bursts of entropic energy, the epic title piece stands out as a tour de force of incandescent psychedelia and lacerating self-examination. Other milestones include a stark take on Love & Rockets’ “No Words No More” (first heard on 2009’s New Tales To Tell tribute) and the elegiac finale, “This Year,” which closes the album with surprising delicacy and hope. Upon completing the sessions, Jeffares held true to his initial promise to himself and pulled away from the material he’d been obsessing over for the better part of a decade. “I can’t,” he says. “I can’t listen to it at all. I accidentally heard a track the other day and realized there was a backing vocal missing. I was like, ‘No. I’ve got to let it go.’” Now based out of Austin, Jeffares is preparing for No One In Control’s long awaited release by solidifying Snowden’s intricate live presentation, the present line-up comprised of players assembled during his last stay in New York City. But for the most part, he has spent the past year recharging his creative batteries, “trying to live a life not centered around music.” That said Jeffares recently set up a studio, determined to begin the next Snowden album before hitting the road hard in 2013. Ever eager to push his music’s own far-flung boundaries, he suggests future efforts will be more beat heavy and electronic in nature. One thing is certain, however: the arrival of the astonishingly affective No One In Control represents the culmination of a difficult and risky chapter for Snowden as well as the proverbial new beginning for Jordan Jeffares himself. 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