It’s been a while since Boston has seen alt-indie rockers The Longwalls performing live; since their last release, 2012’s Kowloon EP, they’ve played about two shows, according to singer/instrumentalist Brandon Comstock. Between recording their new album The Gold Standard, busy nine-to-five schedules, and the fact that, as bassist Dan London says, “When you are 35, your friends will now tell you that the club smells like piss,” the gigs haven’t exactly been coming fast and thick, making The Longwalls’ album release show this Saturday all the more special.
“The thing about Boston is,” explains Comstock, at the band’s rehearsal space in Arlington, “if you go underground for 18 months and practice and have kids and get married and make an album, you come out and all the bands you used to play with are gone. And the people you knew that could help you get shows have moved away.”
That’s part of the reason, Comstock says, the band chose The Bridge Sound & Stage, a studio and performance space in Cambridge where they recorded The Gold Standard, to host their (free) return performance this Saturday. After releasing three EPs—Dark Academy, Careers in Science, and Kowloon—between 2010 and 2012, the group, which includes singer/guitarist and lead songwriter Alan Wuorinen and percussionist Kurt von Stetten, scrapped their usual two-day marathon recording process at Q Division Studios for a year spent crafting their second full-length album. Comstock alludes to “leaving some things on the table” on their previous efforts, and the band was keen to take advantage of the slower pace this time around.
“I’m happy with everything on the record,” says Comstock. “That’s the most fun I’ve had recording guitars ever. With every other album, it was just DIY trying to get it done. But being able to be in the room and having the amp up so loud, to be able to record feeling the amp hitting your face and hitting your chest, was really cool.”
After the darker edge of Kowloon, Gold Standard finds the band exploring richer sonic territory while keeping the lyrics simple but expressive.
“The ‘gold standard’ refers to the idea that you are 38 and therefore you should be married and own a home and have two children by now,” says Comstock with a wry smile. “That’s a theme that I don’t have to try very hard to write about. Whatever the standards are, I don’t know very much about that.”
Adds Wuorinen, “It refers to something that’s not attainable or realistic and probably never was. It’s more of a reflection on those kind of ideas and ideals in America.”
Underneath its gentle sing-a-long refrain (“Put your money in gold,” Wuorinen soothes), “Gold Standard” bristles with modern angst, but the title track doesn’t define the album’s tone. The band eases fluidly between emotions and influences; “Simple Thoughts” has a slow-burning country flavor, while the vocals echo coldly through the beginning of “Rukia,” before the layers of reverb, piano, and percussion are brought to a boiling climax.
Best of all, they have an album’s worth of new songs to play live.
“It’s like golf,” says London. “All you need is one good swing and you’ll come back again. One good show gets you through your life. For the next three months, I’m ok.”