All-female, all-awesome, Brooklyn-based TEEN remain true to their progressive indie-pop roots in their newest single, “Big Talk”, out October 8 on digital release via Mistletone / Inertia.
Written and recorded during the “Carolina” EP sessions, with support from producer Daniel Schlett (DIIV), the track is a catchy and polished successional release.
“Big Talk” glows as it incorporates Teeny Lieberson’s glassy vocals set atop the song’s tight yet buoyant arrangement. The finish is a reverb-drenched instrumentation that channels a classic psych-rock vibe.
Refining the psych-pop nuggets of their debut LP, In Limbo (Mistletone 2012), TEEN’s Carolina EP (Mistletone 2013) is a stepping stone in the way that all good extended plays are. The band — lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Teeny Lieberson, keyboardist Lizzie Lieberson, drummer Katherine Lieberson (the three are sisters), and bassist Jane Herships — recorded the five-song record with producer Daniel Schlett, who recently worked on DIIV’s Oshin, at Strange Weather studio in Brooklyn.
While In Limbo‘s songs have many layers and effects, TEEN intended Carolina to be a more natural affair, with the band only playing what they could physically perform in a live setting. Teeny sings in a higher register here, inspired by Kate Bush and Al Green.
“Our music in the past was so about interweaving melodies, creating movement by syncopation, and simple chord structures,” Teeny says. “It felt like the next step forward would be to take a more simplistic, live approach, play lines in unison and create a different kind of conversation between the instruments.”
Watch the video “Circus” below, shot at Brooklyn’s Union Pool during a recent show. Like its namesake, the song is bright and a little chaotic, heavy on the keys with a moody rhythm section, but made buoyant by Teeny’s vocals. “I should find that daunting,” she sings. Clearly, she doesn’t.
PRAISE FOR IN LIMBO BY TEEN (Mistletone, 2012)
- “(TEEN) revel in euphoria and exploration that brims with joyous confidence… living in their psych and New Wave-inflected world is heavenly” – DRUM MEDIA
- “A dark, delay-draped sound indebted to cosmic synth music, psychedelia, and dream-pop; and taken to even more experimental ends by working with Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember, that one-time Spacemen 3 reprobate and recent Panda Bear collaborateur” – THEMUSIC.COM.AU
Watch the official music video for “Electric” by TEEN, from In Limbo, below (directed by Sam Fleischner & Megha Barnabas):
Brooklyn’s TEEN came together when Teeny Lieberson left her post in Here We Go Magic to make music with her sisters Katherine and Lizzie and their longtime friends, Jane Herships and former member Maia Ibar. Forgoing girl-group gimmickry and fervor, the band’s digital-only debut EP Little Doods fleshed out a sound of languid, lo-fi psyche pop redolent of Paisley Underground bands like Opal and Rain Parade. Since releasing the EP in April 2011, they have steadily honed their sound around New York and readied their first long-player, In Limbo.
TEEN’s lead singer/songwriter Teeny Lieberson had been playing in bands around New York City since 2002, eventually becoming the keyboard player for the Here We Go Magic in 2008. During a hiatus from the band in the winter of 2009, Teeny wrote the five songs for Little Doods, the foundation of TEEN’s full-length, In Limbo,oand recruited the other members of TEEN to expand the sound from four-track/lo-fi to a fully fleshed out sound.
TEEN spent the summer of 2011 recording In Limbo in Maia’s family barn in rural Connecticut, engineered by Jen Turner of Here We Go Magic. In Limbo was mixed and produced in collaboration with producer Pete Kember, a.k.a. Sonic Boom, who first heard the band via an early video while he was mixing Panda Bear’s Tomboy at Blanker Unsinn studio in Brooklyn, and after hearing some demos, signed up to produce a full LP of their material as soon as possible. Sonic Boom’s influence and guidance is subtly evident throughout, adding sympathetic undertones and ambience to the band’s well defined and inspiring songs. Further work was done at MGMT’s Blanker Unsinn facility with the final mixing and mastering taking place in the UK at Sonic Boom’s New Atlantis Studio.
In Limbo puts TEEN’s pop and tribal elements to the fore. Opener Better is a Suicide-esque march toward euphoria through repetition. Sleep in Noise comes on like a neo-psychedelic tribal stomp with a Spector-esque drive, while Unable, an all-but-shapeless mass of organ swells and tremolo synths provides a loose structure for their transcendent vocal acrobatics. The density and layers of the band’s morphing keyboards, driving synths and jungle drums let their finely arranged vocals sit gloriously on top, each member’s contribution shining through.
TEEN’s sound relies heavily on its vocal arrangements and harmonies. The music is strengthened by the flawless vocal connections between family and friends. The songs on the album are a reflection of change and loss – loss of loved ones, loss of relationships and sitting in the space of the unknown – in limbo. They reflect on how times such as these can give birth to powerful creative moments, and also solidify bonds in relationships between friends and family. The songs are mysterious and dark, exploring the many sensitivities and emotions that a person endures during these critical and life-changing experiences.
The band’s live shows have so far been mainly around New York City, where they have played consistently since Winter 2010, including performances at a number of CMJ showcases, and as well as shows with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Purity Ring, War on Drugs and My Best Fiend.
Maia Ibar has now left the band, leaving the lineup as follows:
Teeny Lieberson – Guitar/Keys/Vocals
Lizzie Lieberson – Keys/Vocals
Jane Herships – Bass/Vocals
Katherine Lieberson – Drums/Vocals
NOT ANOTHER TEENAGE BAND: interview by Anthony Carew for themusic.com.au:
Few words have as much cultural weight as ‘Teen’, yet the band that has —in the vein of Girls, perhaps— called themselves aren’t out to evoke all that baggage. Instead, they merely took the name from their leader. “Everyone calls me Teeny,” says Kristina Lieberson, the former Here We Go Magic keyboardist who broke out with her own band, and invited her sisters along. “I’m so used to being called Teen and Teeny that I didn’t actually think of how other people would see [the name] until recently.”
Recently, TEEN turned out their debut album, In Limbo, a set produced by Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember, that one-time Spacemen 3 reprobate and recent Panda Bear collaborateur. Though their music doesn’t play on the thematic mythology of the American teenager, if it did, Lieberson would have some fine stories to draw on. The daughter of a composer father and singer mother —hence the musical chops instilled in the siblings (Teeny, Katherine, Lizzie) that make up TEEN’s core— Lieberson’s youth was filled with music and rebellion. “I was always a troublemaker,” she recalls. “I went to a performing arts boarding school for two years, which was great in so many ways, but it was also very strict. That didn’t suit me too well.”
Lieberson was her boarding school’s bad seed, the ringleader of a set of stoner miscreants. “One night I snuck out, took another kid’s car, drove without a license, pretty sure we were stoned, went to a store and was stealing hair dye, and we got caught,” Lieberson says. “Luckily, the people at the place didn’t report me, because I would’ve gotten in so much trouble for so many reasons. Driving without a license at eleven o’clock, I would’ve been kicked out of school for good.”
Lieberson had been focusing on theatre at boarding school, but decided to study jazz in college, figuring it was the only way she could study music in a tertiary setting. “I failed miserably,” she laughs. “I got kicked out of my program because I was just a maniac my first year of college. I didn’t go to school. Partied way too hard. Kind of lost my mind.”
Lieberson would eventually find her mind amidst the touring grind; when she buckled down and became a member of Here We Go Magic in its early 2009 transition from Luke Temple bedroom project to functioning rock band. After nearly three years in HWGM, she left to devote more time to her own band. “It was definitely a tough decision, because I love those guys, and I love making music with them, and their last album is amazing, but it felt like it was just time for me to do my own thing,” she says. “I knew that if I stayed in Here We Go Magic, I wasn’t going to have time to do anything else.”
TEEN found the three Lieberson sisters all picking up new instruments —Teeny had never played guitar before— and fashioning a dark, delay-draped sound indebted to cosmic synth music, psychedelia, and dream-pop; and taken to even more experimental ends by working with Kember. “Pete takes a lot of the lower end, and the bass and the drums, and he takes it almost entirely away, so everything ends up almost floating,” Lieberson says.
They recorded In Limbo late in 2011, during a month long break between Here We Go Magic tours, and once it was done, Lieberson was done with her old band, and committed to her new one. A band called TEEN, a band of women, and all the assumptions that brings up.
“I know that we’re all women, and that’s just a fact. But does it have to come up in every review?” Lieberson sighs. “That’s frustrating. I think people assume we’re going to make a certain kind of music just because we’re four women, and because we’re called TEEN. Everyone thinks we’re going to be some garage-rock band or something. So we have to prove them wrong.”