The Grahams at The Stoller Hall – CANCELLEDJohnny James, Managing Editor
With guitars and whiskey in tow, travelling troubadours The Grahams find themselves on the road once again. At The Stoller Hall this April, the New York duo will perform songs from their film and soundtrack Love & Distortion alongside a brand new album, Kids Like Us.
The Grahams are an alternative pop duo made up of lifelong musical and romantic partners Alyssa and Doug Graham. Born out of a shared wanderlust, their music is inspired by their travels around America. 2015’s debut album Riverman’s Daughter took them down the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana in search of inspiration. It was a worldwide smash in the booming Americana scene, spending 11 weeks in the Top 40 at Americana Radio.
Their follow-up, 2015’s Glory Bound, was another musical odyssey, influenced by the couple’s adventures on trains all over America. These journeys produced not only a critically-acclaimed album but a film, Rattle the Hocks, produced and directed by Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars. The album was declared “easily one of the best Americana albums of the year” by music journal No Depression, and the film swiftly became an international film festival favourite.
Onto their next adventure, in 2016 The Grahams journeyed via motorcycle down the legendary Route 66. Like their last trip, this produced both a film, Love & Distortion, and an album, Kids Like Us, both of which are on the cusp of release. “Everything about Route 66 – the neon signs, the motels, the cars, the souvenirs, even the menus – are stuck in a different time,” says Alyssa Graham. “Of course the music that developed would have moments of fantasy, moments of horror, even some moments of the supernatural.”
Befitting a record born on one of America’s longest, most storied roads, Kids Like Us sees the duo exploring a wider range of sounds than they did on their minimalist, sometimes acoustic first records. This is partly down to the lush arrangements by producers Richard Swift and Dan Molad, but it’s also down to the duo’s Route 66 playlist, which was filled with timeless pop albums. “We started in Chicago with the blues and Motown,” says Doug, “and we ended in L.A., listening to the Beach Boys. All of it found its way into the record.”
With Kids Like Us due for release in March, our biggest tease so far has been ‘Heartbroken Town’, an aching ballad in which Alyssa’s soulful, slightly hoarse voice reminds us of a young Carole King. The music video (above) reinforces this 70’s vibe, with the sepia-filtered duo seen recording live in Abbey Road Studios. By taping contact mic’s to her throat, Alyssa’s soulful voice is elevated to new heights in ‘Just What You Deserve’, another belting single which was inspired by the duo’s strange encounters in the Mojave.
From what we’ve heard so far, Kids Like Us is shaping up to be The Graham’s most inspired work yet. Performing with a killer band comprised of members of Lucius, The Night Sweats and The Raconteurs, their show at The Stoller Hall should be a highlight of the season.