Katiee is Katie Eastburn; the second “e” is merely an initial for her last name, but in this brave new world of internetspeak and vocal fry, the name works wonders. Eastburn was previously part of a Los Angeles-based underground drama-noise band Young People–which also included a co-founder of The Smell–but they broke up in the early 2000s, shortly after relocating to Brooklyn.
Anyone who works in a creative field knows that projects come and go, but people stay. And after listening to Eastburn’s latest musical foray as Katiee, I’m glad she did. Out All Night is her first full-length album since Young People dissolved circa 2007, and we’re premiering the full stream here today, ahead of its release this Friday, 7/1. Nine years may seem like a long time to bring a project to fruition, but after a listen through the album, it’s clear that Katiee’s debut is well worth the wait.
Out All Night is a collection of lucid, slowcore dream-pop about mundane things–an impeccable record on which Eastburn renders the ordinary significant by recasting it in her gorgeous, chilly pop framework. Opener “Atlantic City” turns a longing for that Jersey destination into a song as forlorn and chintzy as the city itself; it relishes former glory and memories over misty synths without giving up hope of a rekindling. All this is spiked with a reverie-inducing saxophone solo courtesy of Jeff Tobias. From there, Out All Night slips further into ’80s noir, sometimes Eastburn’s voice evokes the clearcut alto of Natasha Khan, and fans of Bat For Lashes will find a lot to love here, but other times she slips into a wispy soprano all her own.
“I’m flattered you want me / And bitter you got me,” she croons without malice on “Bad & the Beautiful,” typifying the sound and fury of a relationship’s disintegrating trajectory. On early single “Could,” she digs into the heart of our self-obsessing focus: “All my problems are meaningless / that don’t mean they go away,” giving worth to everyday worries over plinking piano and building strings. The video, below, was shot at The Smell and directed by Joe Denardo of Growing and Gun Outfit. I once described the latter as “country dream-punkers,” and though Eastburn never really strays into twang territory, the fearless independent streak of that genre is peppered throughout the record.
Despite the chilly undertones, Eastburn’s debut solo album of sorts burns icy at times but never turns cold. “Rilke” uses a rescinding beat and mesmerizing strings to build toward an anthemic climax that wouldn’t be out of place in Swan Lake or Peter And The Wolf, “Sudden Fear” steers directly into tense synths and a backbeat before letting a rumbling bass and the tip-top of Eastburn’s range overtake the song’s heavenly threats–then that saxophone comes screeching back again like a bat out of hell. Young People’s sound was marked by a devotion to both avant-garde and musical theatre, and the dramatic elements of both of those aesthetics show up on Out All Night.
For all the uncertainty and flamboyance these influences contain, they can’t upstage Katie herself. Nothing indicates that more than the album’s title-track, a number that pulls back considerably–to near-lullaby status–and manages to be just as compelling as any of the more jittery, upbeat numbers here. And if you’re looking for a real heartbreaker, she’s given Kris Kristofferson’s “4 The Good Times” a desperate, gloomy cover and interpolated/interpreted Neil Young’s “The Losing End” to suit her own needs.
The band Katiee isn’t only Eastburn at this point, though she is capable of playing many of the instruments heard here–a very early iteration of the project featured her on 88-key electric piano, a kick drum, a tambourine and a shaker. Members of “psychedelic freak jazz” collective Sunwatchers help out here–that group shares some members with Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band (which full disclosure is what got me to listen to the album)–and her husband Jim McHugh handles the ever-present bass, Jason Robira is on percussion, and Ray Sweeten rounds out the band on production.
Out All Night is a labor of love, and the result of one woman’s manifestation of her own life as a musical story, a narrative that’s been gilded by a group of musicians who are able to add flourishes to her singular vision without eclipsing the view. Sometimes the best things in life come quickly and unexpectedly, but usually, they take years and years of hard work to achieve. Out All Night is the former, and an art-pop monument to not giving up on your creative vision. Stream it below.