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Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band

AlternativeAmericana/Folk
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Balance and Composure
HI-FI Annex
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No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight, the upcoming five-song EP from Brooklyn musician Kevin Devine, tracks a period of unmaking, remaking, and unmaking again. Pulled from a collection of music written between January 2019 and March 2020, No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight is a set of cosmic folk and kaleidoscopic, acoustic acid-bedroom-pop, as tranquil and sedate as it is unsettled and shifting. It’s mournful and hopeful in equal turns, and above all committed to the even, blunt experience of both: the full spectrum of life and what it means to have lived.

“These five songs are about the freedom, and the opportunity for growth, that comes with the capacity to be in fealty to reality, to not deny that which is, or not try to bend that which is to your preference or will, but to just accept and respond,” says Devine.

Due out June 25 on Bad Timing Records, No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight was recorded entirely from the homes of each contributor: Devine’s vocals, guitars, and keys in South Brooklyn; Chris Bracco (mixing, keys) in Stratford, Connecticut; Morgan Kibby (vocals, keys) and Keeley Bumford (vocals, keys), each in Los Angeles; and Zack Levine (drums, percussion) in Chatham, New York.

The process was disparate and isolated, but Devine says it tracked well with the working conditions of musicians at his level, which he describes as “non-celebritized, (someone) who has an audience and has been able to make a living, and has a career but also is not a famous person, but also is not just starting out.” Aside from touring, his work—writing, administrative tasks, and recording— is done from his apartment.

Devine’s 20-year career includes nine full-length records, 11 EPs, 12 Devinyl Splits, three albums with his band Bad Books, and now a wildly-successful Patreon called “Social Club,” which delivers fans new original music, cover songs, livestream concerts, archival recordings, and more, every month. “It’s like on my headstone it could say, ‘Not famous, but beloved by those who knew,’” he laughs. “I authentically feel like I won the lottery that that’s the truth.”

But that feeling doesn’t halt what Devine describes as “the Russian nesting dolls of distorted, warping influence” that encourage insecurity and competition in working musicians. “That’s late-stage casino capitalism,” he says.

Devine cites Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith as formative aesthetic and ideological influences, but mourns how capitalist music industries chewed up both artists. “I kinda wish neither of those people were any more famous than playing 500-capacity clubs, cause I think it was bad for them,” he says. He cites Smith’s tattoo of Ferdinand the Bull, the titular character of the childhood story of a bull who refuses his role in bullfighting and instead longs to sit among the flowers. Devine reads the story now to his daughter.

Neither Cobain nor Smith could change the bullfight, despite their best efforts to disorder and unsettle it. Ferdinand’s greatest and most instructional success, says Devine, was to simply leave the arena. “I wanna figure out a way to just get as far away from the bullfight as possible,” says Devine.

This is Devine’s refusal, too. What he prioritizes now is a spiritual relationship with listeners: “If someone likes what you make, and it occupies some place in their life, they want you to be able to keep making it.” This work naturally lends itself to ebbs and flows of life: Devine says he can be himself, and “grow and shrink and move around” accordingly.

No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight is coloured by this humanism, which operates as a constantly-refocusing lens on a period of upheaval, loss, and reckoning. Opener “No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight,” with its hazy, warbled guitars and sticky drums, introduces this cryptically: “No distraction from our dreams, denied/No one’s waiting up for me tonight,” Devine sings gently.

“I’ve Never Been Happier Than I Was In That Picture” is a bruised and bruising meditation on love and flashbulb-pops of memory, Devine’s voice backed by haunting harmonies from Kibby. “It happened, it’s over/I love ya, I miss ya/And I’ll never be happier than I was in that picture,” Devine laments.

“Taking Shape” beds calm finger-picking under sunset melodies and a determination to be better. “Lakes On The Moon,” a dark, soaring epic, builds to the EPs rich, starry-eyed climax, while closer “All There Is Now” is a tender elegy, a bittersweet and caring send-off to the past.

Devine describes the processes on No One’s Waiting Up For Me Tonight as “muscular and routinized,” as things which aren’t simply learned once, but which are constantly being built and rebuilt.

“What I’m talking about is taking inventory,” he says. “How do you accept your personhood in all of its great and bad iterations, and how do you see that they’re not actually great or bad, but that everything is on a spectrum of grayscale? We’re just trying to figure out how to get through the day as responsibly as we can, to ourselves and the people around us.”

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