City Center: Redeemer
City Center's first full-length on K is Redeemer and it's a time capsule of strange geography and slow-motion memories; ten stretches of well-crafted sound by Fred & Ryan, distilled over the course of 2 years where the duo traveled around the country multiple times playing different versions of these songs in every basement, bar-room and house party available. The album title is actually the name of a street and a church (both) on said street in Ann Arbor, where Fred grew up and Ryan went to school. The songs are an atempt to retroactively understand said growing up (and said school), with underwater thoughts about high school tortures, stoned spring days listening to headphones for the microscopic elements of beauty, true love in a way that knows no age or era and the next generation of all these things already projecting themselves into the future at an alarming rate.Musically based in a tradition of what could be called the "understanding jam", City Center draws equally on the amped up teenage anger of hardcore (the Void side of the Faith/Void split), confused angst at the Gap sales rack circa '93 (Dinosaur Jr. style guitar solos over mumbling harmonies) or the frustration of the kid trying to talk about Fluxus at the open-armed parking lot scene of a Dead show in 1971.In the end, these songs reach out and grab at nothing, observe everything and ask no questions. The story folds back into itself like dim lights in the windows of houses only ever seen from the outside.
City Center: Zen Kids
City Center was born in the headphone space of a Brooklyn bedroom. Shelved between boredom, loneliness, and every available corner of the audible spectrum, Fred Thomas and Ryan Howard make music that is both playful and shy -- that teen Halloween feeling. Now rooted in Michigan, City Center continues to unravel their ever-expanding landscape of warmly washed-out psychedelia -- creating a blurry canvas of images: an endless sun, a lavish diamond tattoo across the chest, and a pile of orca bones on the beach. While touring across the country, Fred and Ryan stopped for a few days in Olympia, Washington to groove-out a solid-action 7" 45 rpm record for K (who also put out Thomas' last full length album from Saturday Looks Good to Me). "Zen Kids" [DBN117] splinters guitars and chillingly desolate drones until it forms as a soft summery pop song. As with all singles in the Dub Narcotic Disco Plate series, just flip the record and Selector Dub Narcotic scrambles and reforms it, "Version" style.