Few Baltimore musicians have as many side projects as Adam Lempel. He’s one half of the basement rock duo Weekends, he channels new wave with Adam Lempel and the Heartbeats and also has a series of classical and traditional compositions (he’s actually studying composition in Amsterdam at the moment).
“Adam Lempel and the Casiobeats,” which will be released Dec. 12 on Friends Records, is yet another departure. On it, Lempel draws from the synth-heavy pop of the 1980s.
Tracks to start with: “Jump” and “Nightlife”
Here is more about the album, from Lempel:
I recorded the album at my house in Bolton Hill in 2013-2014. I was thinking about childhood memories for inspiration. I wasn’t sure exactly what lyrics felt true anymore, and I decided to use my actual memories as the lyrical content, that way they had some inherent truth to them, because they actually happened.
So for instance the first song “Jump” is about walking around my hometown of the Five Towns in Long Island on a Saturday night with my friends, because we had nothing to do and were too young to drive, and we would just walk the streets and go to a pizza place, or just go to an open house party, where someone’s parents went away for the weekend and they threw a party, and just kind of that feeling of being lost, just passing the time, in a sort of innocent naivety and boredom. Knowing there’s so much more that you could be doing, but not knowing exactly what. But then it’s also coming from this nostalgic perspective of me writing these lyrics now, kind of remembering that feeling of zero responsibility and zero expectations in a rose colored hue, just having these aimless nights where you wander the streets and end up playing n64 with your friends in your parents basement at 3am.
Similarly, “Truth Or Dare” is about that weird confused state of adolescent sexuality, middle school era, where “making out” still feels somewhat badass and taboo, but also the excitement and nervousness that the game evoked in me in that era. Like wanting secretly explore all these things, but needing a game like truth or dare as the excuse. Also, there’s this kind of proving yourself that goes into the game, like upping the ante, “oh ya well if you dare me to do this, than i’ll dare you to do THAT…” that i find really amusing, like the jockying for social position and status that I remember feeling as a 12 year old, wanting to be part of the group, not being left behind etc.
The song “School Bus,” is also a childhood memory, but much younger, when I was in 2nd through 5th grade, I had this punk bus driver named Linda, with a bleach blonde mohawk and leather vest, she kind of looked like a fat Wendy O’ Williams, and she would just blast the same tape every single day, that was exclusively Billy Idol, Queen, Meatloaf and Melissa Etheridge, and like I knew all those songs by heart cause I would hear them every single day, and still to this day if I hear any of those songs it brings me back to the smell of the green fake leather school bus seats with the rips in them and the yellow foam coming up and like my head against the cold window. The bus driver’s 80’s music is contrasted the music that I listened to as a 9 and 10 year old, mainly 90s grunge like Nirvana, Offspring, Smashing Pumpkins, but I guess the song is about how important music is to all of us in carving out an identity and different styles come to represent different characters.
The whole album is in this late 80’s “genre” partially because it’s the music I remember from my youth, but not the music i directly listened to as a kid, that would be grunge, but the music that I heard second hand as it were, the music that was right before my time, and i internalized in this weird way. the grunge elements i guess come out more in Weekends or other projects, but for this album, it was almost like i went to the style that affected me subconsciously, that was on in the background while I was growing up. “Nightlife” is a little different, that song is about how I felt after touring/bartending/playing shows all the time, and just sort of feeling a little burned out, and like I’m still here doing the same thing and getting older and where does this all lead? so sometimes “the nightlife gets old and tired” like me.