News updates for Try the Pie

Try the Pie at Independent Clauses

Try The Pie’s latest album, Rest, departs from their slightly heavier punk sound from previous albums. Recorded in frontwoman Bean Tupou’s San Francisco bedroom, Rest has a refreshingly raw acoustic-punk sound. The tracks contain lovely acoustic guitar instrumentation with layered female vocals and an occasional dying smoke detector.

The idea of Rest is simple: the album is a rest or a break from a heavier sound. There seems to be less pressure, rules, and instruments within this album, compared to their previous works. With the exception of “Willing” and “Root to Branch,” each song begins with the acoustic guitar, giving them an immediately relaxing feel. The small additions of percussive elements provide layers to the tracks. For example, “‘Alu A” begins with the guitar, and as the track progresses, more and more surprising percussive elements enter in. The whole track feels like a DIY version of The War On Drugs. “‘Alu A” has a really chill vibe that makes it one of my favorites from Rest.

My other favorite element of Rest is the vocalization. Many of the songs feature more than one female vocal, and they all come together to make a refreshingly dissonant combination. The vocalization is akin to other punk bands like Amanda X. “Please! Please! Please!” brings in the multiple vocals almost immediately. It sounds like there’s about three female vocals looping and overlapping in a perfectly wonky way–the vocal dissonance pairs well with the old reliable acoustic guitar.

The raw nature of Rest makes me love it even more. The tracks are so short, yet so powerful. Take “Eight,” for example: a seemingly simple song about a spider. Yet, if you take a look at the lyrics, they explore what happens when you get in “sticky” situations where “the net gets so sticky/ and I can’t get out of it/ but I still try.”  The final lyric–“when you are using all eight it seems so dull/ to know that you are superior over all”–drops a metaphorical bomb that makes you want to read the lyrics all over again to try and understand it. “Eight” actually ends with a disgruntled “God damn it,” which I’m assuming was Bean’s response to the earlier-heard dying smoke detector.

Try The Pie’s latest release is a beautifully unassuming album with a slightly grainy music quality and a nonchalance toward interruptions. My recommendation is to relax, sit back and enjoy a little Rest. –Krisann Janowitz

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Try the Pie at The Bay Bridged

Out of all the Bay Area music projects I’ve found out about in 2015, South Bay’s Try The Pie has to be one of the most meaningful to me. Bean Tupou’s way of connecting their personal emotions and stories through music successfully allows anyone to listen and feel welcomed, but especially queer femme POC. Bean gives us all a home to rest, but opens this home with wide doors to all who feel homeless and underrepresented in indie music and society.

Bean is not new to the indie music or DIY scene. They have been involved in making it a better place for those that needed it for a while, from being a part ofThink and Die Thinking to being in twee-punk bands like Sourpatch. With Try The Pie, we get a deeper more intimate connection and reflection, especially through the recently released compilation of early recordings Rest.

When Rickshaw Stop announced that Different Fur Studios were going to be hosting a show with not only PWR BTTM and Dude York, but also Try The Pie, I knew this would be one of those events that I couldn’t and would never stop talking about. So I decided to talk to the people making it a reality. First off: Try The Pie.

The Bay Bridged: This project tends to be a lot more of a solo effort, which is always a braver approach to music. What was the motivation to start Try The Pie and make it a reality?

Bean Tupou: Try the Pie was a place to put all the songs I wrote and wouldn’t use for other bands. I started this as a teenager and since it existed before any projects I’ve been in, the motivation was simply to start a structured thing and have a format for writing songs. I didn’t really imagine that it would evolve with me and eventually become a more serious musical effort.

It has become my primary source of writing recently, beyond poetry, prose or even instrumental music. The words and music go hand-in-hand with Try the Pie and it is something I like to express my truth through — I think that’s the main motivation.

TBB: Your music always had a lot to do with identity and the feelings we all tend to lock away. The music video for “Root To Branch” deals with these and cultural identity. How does culture fit into your music and what you want to do with it?

BT: I recently listened to this talk James Baldwin gave to teenagers at Castlemont High School in Oakland on June 23rd, 1963. In the speech he is asked by a student if Black folks in America should “learn African history and culture to gain pride, dignity and strength so that when [they] are confronted by white people [they] can say, at the very least, that [they] have a culture that is equal to that of white peoples”.

James Baldwin responded by saying, “Find out all, you can, but don’t find it out with the intention of proving a point. Understand this: there is no reason for you prove yourself to anybody but yourself. When the world talks about culture, understand this: it is not talking about culture, it is talking about power.”

Listening to his words gave me a broader perspective on what culture means to me. Culture is a kind of weapon, as my friends in the band Downtown Boys would say, you can use it to protect you. I also believe it is a torch to gain visibility, it is there to remind us of who were are in times we feel we have lost fortitude. It is a vehicle for sharing and maintaining a narrative that may not get told otherwise.

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Try the Pie at Eardrums Music

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Antlered Auntlord, Bunnygrunt, and Try the Pie at Jersey Beat

Antlered Aunt Lord

This has me excited! Why? Back in the late 70s and into the 80s, there was some incredible music being made. There was a veritable explosion of diversity and experimentalism in musical styles in the wake of the disillusionment with arena rock and disco. Punk and hardcore won the day, in the underground, before evolving into somewhat more conventional grunge, pop punk, and indie-pop, but there was that brief, wonderful period where you could buy all sorts of records from bands playing weird, quirky sorts of stuff. And now you can again. Antlered Aunt Lord, the name used for Tunabunny drummer Jesse Stinnard’s solo work, has released an album so different from anything else coming out these days. Reportedly, the nineteen tracks here come from a vast library of recordings Stinnard has stashed away, and it seems that these represent his musical sketchbook, if you will. Some of the tracks are nearly fully realized, if a bit lo-fi in the recording department, while others seem to be ideas that are merely outlines with a promise of what might come if ever filled in. What comes through very clearly, though, is Stinnard’s exuberance; he is very obviously passionate and joyful about his music, and it shows in the recordings. The album opens with “Events of the Future,” itself opening with some noise and guitar doodling and tuning, before bursting into a keyboard driven garage-rock track, with undertones of doo-wop and hints of Spanish bullfights. The birds are singing along on this one, literally. You can hear them quite loudly in the mix. “Abandoned Car” has an awesome minimalist melodic line, super lo-fi recording, and nerdy vocals that you can barely make out. “Monopilot” is an out-and-out psych-folk-rock track that sounds like something out of the late 60s, while “The Beezwax” is a cool, simple nerd-pop track. “Epa” is humorous, with its loping rhythm and non-stop “boom-chick-a-boom” repeating over an over underneath the lead vocals. “Yr Right” is noisy, manic track that sounds like it could be an early pop punk track, heavy on the punk, but super distorted. “Sigil To Noise” may be my favorite track on the album, with angularities that belie the melodic nature, and a throbbing undercurrent that keeps propelling the track forward. The trick is the substantial silence that makes you think the track has ended, but then it bursts back for a powerful conclusion. “Hi Beam Hi Priest (Blinker Fluid) is just plain awesome in its new wave lo-fi pop-ness, with loud/quiet sections and tons of synth. The closer, “Save The Very Best,” is aptly named – because you save the very best for last, natch. It’s a drunken Cajun Irish reel of some kind from an alternate universe that lurches and staggers through to its uncertain conclusion. A few of these tracks have also been made into music videos, which are available on youtube and are just as creative as the music. Recommended!

Bunnygrunt

OK, folks, if you’re going to put out vinyl records, there’s a critical piece of information you need to include on the label: the speed at which to play the record. This is especially true if the speed is not the “standard” for the size of the record. This 12” album is to be played at 45RPM, not 33. That said, once I found the right speed, I found some pretty damn good lo-fi music that varies from indie-pop to punk to art-pop. Each side has four tracks, and the musical quality improves as the record progresses. The opener is a short, throwaway track that’s pretty much all instrumental, while “Just Like Old Times” is a pretty indie-pop track, as is “Open My Eyes,” though the latter is a little harder around the edges. “Chunt Bump” is the long epic track of the album, and it’s got a cool prog-rock feel to it, especially toward the end, when the strings come in, and it gets a retro 70s feel. The B-side opens with “The Book That I Wrote,” which also has a bit of a retro 70s psych rock feel, while “I Quit, Mr. White” is a nice Replacements-like track. “Frankie Is A Killer” is a full-on proto-punk track that could have come right out of the mid-70s, and the closer, “Still Chooglin’ (After),” is also proto-punk. I like the raw honest feel of these tracks – there’s no pretense here. I just wish the recording quality had been a little better, because these are good songs.

Try the Pie

Try The Pie is the work of Bean Tupou, a Bay Area musician who is deeply involved in the DIY music community. “Rest” is Tupou’s second full-length album as Try The Pie, and consists of a collection of early recordings made in the period of 2006-2008. Acoustic guitar and vocals, including overdubbed harmonies are featured on these lo-fi home recordings, plus occasional ukulele or percussion instruments. As a result, it certainly sounds more like song sketches and demos than a fully realized album, but I think that was the point. As a look into Tupou’s creative mind, it works. You hear all of the ideas, seemingly as they’re forming, and all of the mistakes, too. Tupou has a pretty enough voice, and the songs are sweet and melodic, but they aren’t groundbreaking or revelatory. As a person with a relatively short career (though certainly busy with a number of other projects), I question whether the world needs to have this sort of release right now. I mean, Try The Pie’s debut LP only came out this past spring. I think I would rather hear a regular studio album of fully formed songs that have been honed through live shows. Save the song sketchbook for several years from now, assuming you’ve toured extensively and developed some sort of following.

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Try the Pie, Two White Cranes, Pinkshinyultrablast, Fireworks at Throw the Dog a Bone

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Try the Pie at Dagger

One thing I’ve always liked about Athens, GA’s HHBTM (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) label is that though it does release plenty of indie pop music it doesn’t just stick to that one genre (like a lot of indie pop labels do). With HHBTM you never really know what you’re gonna get. Take this band for instance, I was initially curious about the band name (especially since I love pie) and then found out that it’s the work of one Bean Tupou (who had previously been in Sourpatch and Crabapple). These songs are mostly acoustic, folky and confessional and on a lot of the songs you can hear the sound of fingers going across the strings of the acoustic guitar (like on the early Palace Bros record Days in the Wake). Cuts like “A Lot of Things,” “Willing,” “Bunkbed” and “The Hottest Day of the Year” should make you a fan. It’s a real personal affair and it almost sounds as if you’re listening in on a conversation that you’re not supposed to be listening in on. I first got turned onto this kind of stuff in the late 80’s when I heard some of the earliest Sebadoh recordings (these tunes were recorded in 2008 in San Francisco as it says ion the back cover). I’m  curling up with this record tonight and probably tomorrow night, too.

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Try the Pie, Antlered Auntlord, SPC ECO at Examiner

Try the Pie

Try The Pie is Bean Tupou’s labor of love. With the highly regarded Domestication under her belt Tupou has released – Rest – a collection of songs from 2005 – 2008. The 13 self-recorded tracks allow listeners to partake in Tupou’s music at the embryonic level. The tunes are stripped down to just her voice and a guitar as she sings about things that are on her mind. The songs on Rest weave in and out of relationship issues, love and living life with Tupou using hot days, trains and bunkbeds as metaphors. The raw sound lends to the frailty of this collection of songs. They are imperfect just like life. Tupou’s voice is at the forefront of this album baring its naked soul for all to judge and it is her wispy vocals that give each track its strength. Try The Pie demonstrates that a catchy melody and strong lyrics make a great song. Big productions have their place, luckily for listeners it is not on this record.

Antlered Aunt Lord

The debut record from Antlered Aunt Lord – Ostensibly Formerly Stunted (and On Fire) – is a wild trip through the mind of Jesse Stinnard (Tunnabunny). The record suffers from multiple personality disorder as Stinnard gives us songs that range from brilliance to what the hell was that. The tracks “Monopilot” and “Questions From Our Publicist” utilize catchy pop melodies and jangly guitars allowing Stinnard’s vocals to flow freely over this incredible soundscape into listener’s ears. Stinnard refuses to be safe and many times wanders into an area that walks the thin line between noise and music. A wall of noise rushes from the speakers on “Abandoned Car”, “Classic Nu New Uncomfortable Bumblebee Dub” is a weird jazz infused tune and “Sciatica” is a chunky punk infused track the rattles the brain. It is this inconsistency in Antlered Aunt Lord’s tunes that makes this different and worth listening to. With each listen something different is discovered as Stinnard mixes a plethora of instruments, sounds and noises throughout the album. The 19 songs keep listeners wondering what comes next as they progress through each track. Ostensibly Formerly Stunted (and On Fire) draws comparisons to the eclectic albums by Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices). There is no set pattern nor plan to the music it is just there to enjoy.

SPC ECO 

Consisting of Rose Berlin, Dean Garcia and a group of collaborators that could take all day to list make up SPC ECO. In 2015 SPC ECO released Dark Matter, a collection of esoteric music built around haunting melodies, synthesized sounds and Berlin’s soothing vocals. Listeners are sucked into SPC ECO’s soundscape on a journey that seems to slow down time. Songs such as “Creep In The Shadows”, “Under My Skin” and “Breathe” are beautiful demonstrations in music showing how delicate it can be. With “The Whole World Shines” and “Let It Always Be” things get a bit more experimental. The music has an edge but Berlin’s vocals keep it from careening out of control. Dark Matter is an album that requires a bit of investment from the listeners. The traditional song structure is not there but Berlin’s & Garcia’s ability to stray from the musical norm is what makes this worth the listen.

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Try the Pie at the Vinyl District

Bean Kaloni Tupou is perhaps best known for singing and playing in the San Jose, CA four-piece Sourpatch, but as Try the Pie she additionally offers solo artistry of considerable acumen and growing prominence. Her most recent work in this mode emerged this past April, but those wishing to explore Try the Pie’s beginnings are graced with good luck for the venture’s earliest recordings have been given a fresh vinyl pressing courtesy of theHappy Happy Birthday To Me label. Featuring 13 of Tupou’s songs delivered up close and very personal through guitar and voice, Restis available now.

Together with her contribution to the San Jose-based Think and Die Thinking Collective, Bean Tupou’s credits include Crabapple, Salt Flat, and Plume, but thus far her highest profile undertaking has been Sourpatch, a sadly defunct outfit (their Bandcamp refers to them in the past tense, anyway) having specialized in a dead-solid expansion of a particular wrinkle of the early ‘90s indie aesthetic.

Specifically, think of the Slumberland and SpinArt enterprises. Diversity and focus worked in Sourpatch’s favor, the group actually offering a broader sound than some of their influences but not so wide-ranging that 2010’s Crushin’ and ‘12’s Stagger & Fade (both released by Happy Happy Birthday To Me) connect like samplers of a bygone era.

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Try the Pie at KQED

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Try the Pie at Collapse Board

Oh, god. Help me. I keep thinking about him lately and I don’t even know why.

OK. Calm down. No, don’t calm down. He didn’t come in tonight, Karl told me, because he was admitted to the hospital today. I tried not to ask too many times – Karl had to run glasses to the bars, anyway – but when he came into the dishroom and I inquired again, he read me one text from him. Something is bleeding and I don’t know where, he said.

I’m at home now, in bed, writing this into you…but my mind drifts off, over and over, spinning like the ceiling fan above me. Sometimes I wish I could just tell someone, anyone, about this feeling – how I shudder when he comes near, not of fright but sheer joy; how I ache when his knee gives out; how I loathe the loitering crowds that he loathes to serve. If only I could sing like Bean Tupou, maybe it’d be easier. Just sing, to only the desk lamp and the laptop, with just a guitar or a ukulele and maybe a little drum or something and share the CD-Rs only with your closest friends. She’s already stolen the line I’d say:

To be quite honest with you, I’ve had this feeling all along, and it’s been eating at my bones / and you probably think it’s strange that I’ve waited all this time to tell you so

See, that’s why I hate this furtive journal-writing. Cos right now, I don’t know if, if – the urge to find this hospital that he’s in, the pity that washed over me when he told me about the seizure that threw him down the stairs, the happiness that bounces in me whenever he’s happy and cracking jokes – if that’s all what love entails. But Tupou can share her feeling in a song, and she never has to explain who she’s referring to, and I could tell her, if ever I saw her, that I’ve felt that way about someone, too, and it’s not strange at all. Secrets eat at my bones, and I can’t let them out, either.

I guess that’s my other obsession lately. I can’t stop listening to Try the Pie. Sometimes I try to envision that apartment, especially in the quiet where you hear the cars rushing underneath. But mostly, I listen to her proclaim the little nagging thoughts that always haunt me – like when she laments how her legs move away from the one that loves her, and how “all my hours are spent thinking about how all my hours are a waste”.

And the bravest words, the admission tucked in the warm curl of “Alot of Things” – “Sometimes I find it so hard to be just your friend”. (Why can’t I say this out loud?)

The songs nestle in my head, and they nurture these thoughts, these concerns I shouldn’t have. Maybe I’m OK. Maybe he’s OK. Maybe I’ve never desired love until sweet folk like Tupou describe it in such hushed, holy terms, with such precision and care that you could rest your head on its shoulder.

All I can do, diary, is wait.

Tupou’s ad hoc solo endeavor Rest is out now on HHBTM Records. Order it here.

 

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