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21+ SHOW

Ryan Traster Band ‘Choses Obscures’

with Peter M (of We Are The Willows) and Savannah Smith

Saturday, July 6, 2019

8:00 pm

$10.00 ADVANCE | $12.00 DOOR


Note: $12.00 is the day of show price.


The upcoming new album by Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Ryan Traster (July 19th, Slow Start Records) features that warm, worn-in vibe of an album that’s been in your cool parents record collection since you were a kid. Eventually, it gets passed down to you to take along into “the real world” and is there when you need to be reminded of being a kid again. It’s that gem of a find in a milk crate of vinyl at the local tag sale on a Sunday afternoon. The kind of album that becomes an all-time favorite, only discovered there by the person who knows what they’re looking for and has the time to dig for it.

Choses Obscures (the title translates from French as “obscure things,” and implies a “dark energy”) is both of those things, and that implied darkness provides a subtle mask that contrasts and deepens the sunny images above. When Traster throws curve balls with lyrics of places and times that don’t abide the most famed of singer-songwriter eras (the kind that even the album’s cover art evokes), things get real. It comes as a jaw-dropping surprise to hear Jesus and Mary Chain name-dropped on “Endless Summer Blues” when Traster sings, “We were living in Echo Park / I was smoking dope in the backyard / You were listening to all those Mary Chain records / We had the endless summer blues.”

According to Traster, the album’s cosmic-country, straight outta Laurel Canyon feel is heavily influenced by Skip Spence, Bert Jansch, and Judee Sill, all of whom passed before their time. That “beyond the grave” murkiness pervades Traster’s lyrics in a profound way, even down to that JAMC reference. Choses Obscures is “born from the subconscious in troubled times, both personally and globally,” Traster explains.

“I wrote a good chunk of this record while traveling the east coast, following a few years of international touring,” he says. “I ended up in Nashville, going to dive bars alone, and hanging out in a dingy bedroom.” After that long world-wide stretch on stage, Traster was actually unable to perform when he got to Nashville, as he had sustained a vocal cord injury on the road.

“My focus was solely on crafting the best material I could with the plan to record it when I regained full health,” he says. It was a dark period for Traster, but he managed to find inspiration while working at Nashville’s world famous Ryman Auditorium, where “listening to old timer’s tales, and being submerged in song, helped me create what I believe is my best material to date.”

Choses Obscures, the second full-length album by Ryan Traster, arrives July 19, 2019 from Slow Start Records.


At first glance, Peter Miller, the burly and stone-faced lead singer of We Are the Willows, seems the least likely candidate for delivering the soft, strained, high-register vocals on his band’s promising debut. More than once Miller’s voice has been mistaken as coming from another gender altogether, but the androgynous nature of his voice and lyrics makes the Willows’ music all the more alluring.

Over sparse, hollow drum samples and acoustic guitars, Miller’s quavering, winged wail is the main focus of the band’s album, A Collection of Sounds and Something Like the Plague, as well as their live shows. Even at a crowded club on a chatty weeknight evening, Miller’s voice captivates, forcing the audience to shut up and direct its attention to the pin-prickling beauty of his emotive, eerily childlike delivery. Miller is a standout singer, the likes of which haven’t been heard in the Twin Cities since the tragic passing of Jeff Hanson, and it’s his voice, in all its haunting, head-turning purity, that makes him one of the most fascinating young performers to emerge in the past few years. [Best Vocalist (Male), City Pages Best of 2010]


Leo (2019), Savannah Smith’s debut full length album, is a dark and lush tribute to loss and the ripples it creates. Tucked away in a house built by her great-grandfather Leo, Smith leaned heavily on the solitude of an empty house to hone in a new sound far from her first ukulele laden EP, Leaving Eau Claire. Recorded and produced by Minneapolis’ Brett Bullion, the two created a stormy soundscape for Smith’s earnest words and vocals. The coming together of simple, swelling instrumentation and complex rhythms and samples make an evocative home for Smith’s songs.