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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
From the onset, Liam McCormick, the mastermind behind The Family Crest, knew that Beneath the Brine was an audacious project. But so is The Family Crest itself.

The brainchild of McCormick, The Family Crest was started as a recording project in 2009 with co-founder John Seeterlin (bass). “We were in another band and had become disillusioned about what that band had become about,” explains McCormick. “Everyone wanted to be rock stars at the expense of the music. John and I were actually planning on leaving music at that point because we wanted something that in ten years we could be proud of.”

Instead of leaving music, they set out to reinvent how it could be created, starting The Family Crest. “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.”

Now a seven-piece core band, boasting over 400 “Extended Family” members, The Family Crest will release Beneath the Brine in February 2014 on Tender Loving Empire. Just with its previous recordings, the San Francisco band set out to capture a plethora of instruments -- including bassoon, vibraphone and French horn -- in unique places, such as living rooms, churches and cafes across the West Coast.

Following on the heels of last summer’s The Headwinds EP (which earned fans in WXPN and Paste), Beneath the Brine shows that McCormick’s ambition was well placed. The expansive breadth of arrangements – from dark, classical romanticism (“Beneath the Brine”) to horn-laden sounds akin to the Roaring 20s (“Howl”) -- are complemented by the incredible range of McCormick’s voice. Beneath the Brine also showcases The Family Crest’s ability to infuse pop into complex arrangements, with songs like “Love Don’t Go” and “The World.” The album is a sweeping soundscape befitting the oceanic theme of the title and what SPIN notes as “ambition wide enough to swallow you whole.”

It has also proven The Family Crest’s belief that anyone can be musical when given the opportunity. “We live in a very disconnected age,” notes Laura Bergmann (flute/keys), “so it’s a really special experience to have a recording session in a cafe that’s open to the public and to sing next to people you’ve never met before, doing something together that’s tangible and very meaningful.”

“When I listen to the record,” adds McCormick, “it’s like listening to the last two years of my life. All of my best friends that I’ve met are in one place, together.”
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.