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The Family Crest

Tender Loving Empire and Doug Fir present

The Family Crest

Trevor Sensor

Sat, May 27

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Doug Fir Lounge

Portland, OR

$13.00 - $15.00

This event is 21 and over

The Family Crest
The Family Crest
"Everything we've done over the past five years has been leading up to this," reflects Liam McCormick. "We've been working on this project for almost the entire time we've been a band."

McCormick, the frontman and songwriter of The Family Crest, is referring to the band's upcoming release, an EP titled Prelude to War. Remaining tight-lipped about the EPs relationship to a mysterious "broader project" that's been mentioned of late, he grins and says, "Our listeners have been waiting so patiently for new music. Let's just say that what we're planning should make up for the wait and keep them satiated for quite a while."

The brainchild of McCormick, The Family Crest was started as a recording project in 2009 with co-founder John Seeterlin (bass). The pair set out to reinvent how music could be created. "We always liked making music with people -- getting a bunch of people together and singing. So we put ads everywhere," says McCormick. "We posted on Craigslist and emailed old friends from school." The outcome was greater than the original duo imagined, with 80 people credited on the first recording the band produced. From that a band emerged, at the urging of the guest musicians, who wanted to hear the songs performed live. "We've worked with a lot of conservatory students as well as people who just sing in the shower," McCormick adds. "It became a lot about giving these people a chance to express themselves without being locked into a commitment."

The band evolved into a seven-piece core with over 400 "Extended Family" members who have contributed to the music. With the 2014 release of Beneath the Brine, The Family Crest skyrocketed into mainstream awareness, with critics at Paste Magazine, Spin and NPR raving, "there's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band." For nearly two years, The Family Crest toured in support of Beneath The Brine, and seeing their songs featured in campaigns for GoPro, Carnival Cruises, Coachella, and more.

Beneath the Brine showed that McCormick's writing for classical instruments had grown. In Prelude to War, his style and prowess has been even more augmented. Paste Magazine exclaims, "[Prelude to War] delivers a dose of both the familiar and the experimental: Huge, rollicking numbers with a few sparse moments of tenderness interspersed throughout. There's material here that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Beneath the Brine, but also several songs that hint at an evolution and embrace of even more seemingly disparate genres. One thing is certain: These guys are just as explosive as ever, and these songs are going to bring the house down in a live setting."


Fans of Beneath the Brine's title track will find drama and dark romanticism in "Sparks" and "Battle Cry," and subtle yet powerful musical gestures in "Don't Wake Me," the sole ballad of the EP. Those looking for a lighter, more pop-infused sound will gravitate toward "Can You Stay" and the undeniably groovy "Mirror Love," of which Bob Boilen (NPR's All Songs Considered) says, "[Mirror Love] extends into new sonic territory for the group, capturing the late '70s sounds of the Bee Gees in both beat and chorus ... [a] stunning kaleidoscopic imagery and bold sound."
Trevor Sensor
Trevor Sensor
Trevor Sensor was born in Sterling, Illinois, an old industrial town whose strong foothold in the steel and manufacturing industry once saw it nicknamed 'The Hardware Capital of the World' (though since the mill's closure, Sensor likens it to the Lynchian neighbourhood of Lumberton from 'Blue Velvet'). As a teenager, part-time work in the local golf course was countered with experiments in various alternative rock bands: Trevor would idolise idiosyncratic front-men and vocalists like Billy Corgan or Gordan Gano of The Violent Femmes, as well as the canon of great American authors (Salinger, Miller) he'd go on to study at college in Pella, Iowa.

The two began to fuse in his early songwriting, which was recorded between stints as a dish-washer in the local bar and grill ("you learn a lot from the ex-junkies who make up the kitchen staff," he says now). Among the early results are startling debut single 'The Reaper Man', an ambiguous encounter with death driven by Sensor's raw but soulful voice ("Oh here's the reaper man, he's looking after me / Oh here's the reaper man, he's coming to take me"). Coloured by local love affairs, 50s TV and the mysticism of the Midwest, flip-side 'Villains and Preachers' is a similarly outsider's vision of small-town suburbia, from which Trevor Sensor has emerged one of the most striking new finds of the year.