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Graveyard Club at Alberta Street Pub, 6/14/19 / Review

By C. FRANCIS O'LEARY // Graveyard Club, the four-piece, Minneapolis-based synth-pop band is comprised of Matthew Schufman (vocals, synths), Michael Wojtalewicz (guitar), Amanda Zimmerman (bass, vocals) and Cory Jacobs (drums). Together, the four make introspective music with a mix of horror, pop and goth styles.

Two teachers, a construction worker and a guitar sales person walk into a bar carrying synths, drums, mics and other assorted instruments. It wasn’t the beginning of a joke, it was the beginning of the West Coast leg of Graveyard Club’s Goodnight Paradise Tour Friday, June 14, at Alberta Street Pub. The tour precedes the release of Graveyard Club's third LP, Goodnight Paradise on June 28.

The four-piece, Minneapolis-based Synth-Pop band is comprised of Matthew Schufman (vocals, synths), Michael Wojtalewicz (guitar), Amanda Zimmerman (bass, vocals) and Cory Jacobs (drums). Together, the four make introspective music with a mix of horror, Pop and Goth styles. The band cite the science fiction stories of Ray Bradbury and New Wave bands of the 80s as influences.

Fans who attended the June 14 show, the second of Graveyard Club’s current tour, were treated to an extensive preview of the band’s Goodnight Paradise. Though, calling it a preview may be something of a misnomer – although the album will be officially released on June 28, attendees of shows on this tour will have the opportunity to pick up physical copies of the album in either vinyl or CD form. After a brief line check and some between-song adjustments, the sound quality was an audio treat, with Schufman and Zimmerman’s vocals coming through clearly over the warbling synth and driving drum and bass of the spooky Surf Rock of the new album’s tracks.

Goodnight Paradise started out as a collection of demos in a folder called “Matt’s Demo Dungeon” on the band’s shared Google Drive. From there, band members picked songs they liked and reworked them together. Although on previous albums the band has done this reworking primarily during practice sessions, for the new album, most of the creative process took place in the studio. The extra time in-studio time allowed for a much more creative, collaborative project, according to Wotalewicz. Band members were able to record more tracks per song, to be mixed and produced by Andy Thompson (Taylor Swift, jeremy messersmith)into a final product. Wotalewicz said of the process of creating the album, “I think if you were to listen to our demos you’d probably vaguely recognize a lot of the songs, but there’s a lot that would be very, very different.”

The result was definitive evolution from 2016’s Cellar Door. Though Cellar Door was a great album, Goodnight Paradise represents Graveyard Club coming into its own as a band. The band certainly hasn’t abandoned the horror sounds demanded by its name, nor has it forgotten its inspirations from the 50s and 80's, Goodnight Paradise is the band’s first album obviously made this decade. The LP continues to explore themes present on past releases: reality, dreams, love and death. This time around, though, the instrumentals are less haunting and more romantic. To add to the ambiance, there are recurring sounds throughout, footsteps rustling leaves, crickets and others, that evoke walking home after prom thinking, “Goodnight, paradise.” Goodnight Paradise will fit in among the collection of any New Wave fan, as well as along side releases from Chromatics, Tegan and Sara or the newest Shakey Graves album, Can’t Wake Up.

Those who missed the show can look forward to Graveyard Club to release Goodnight Paradise digitally on June 28. After that, though, the band doesn’t know what’s next. Zimmerman remains hopeful for their next release though. She acknowledged it was a cliché before saying, “Don’t give up. If you really work at something, you can go places.” To be the first to know what’s coming, follow Graveyard Club at @graveyardclub.

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