WEYES BLOOD RISING: Weyes Blood has a unique way of peering into the future and the past, both musically and stylistically. On Wednesday, April 3, the L.A. resident, a k a Natalie Mering, will return to Santa Barbara with a concert at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) in her first performance here since last playing with Father John Misty. The tones of her new album, Titanic Rising, find root in ’60s and ’70s folk rock and ’80s new age; her lyrics portray our present-day post-apocalyptic future.
“Mostly it’s about a lack of dominion over nature, the Titanic being the most symbolic tragedy for man’s hubris,” she said in a phone interview. “But instead of dealing with one singular tragic event, we’re dealing with this mass kind of rising of climate change. The whole parable is symbolic. What’s happening now is what’s happening then, just on a bigger, grander scale.”
On the cover of Titanic Rising, Mering floats in a submerged bedroom. In a way, she has maybe always been a bit nautical by nature. Growing up, “I had recurring dreams that I was on a sinking ship, saving people, even before the movie,” she said. If aboard the fated Titanic in a past life, “I’d be saving people, saving babies. I tend to panic and fear on a low-grade level every day, but when something really disastrous happens, I kick into super high gear; a kind of transcendent, save-everybody mind-set.”
Musically, and emotionally, she’s taking more risks. “It’s a bigger palette with bigger colors and bolder moves. I’m caring less what people [think],” she said. In recording the new album, “I tried to do everything I’ve always dreamt of doing.” Things like symphonic strings and “reel-to-reel tape, so it’s a couple generations removed from the original sound, to just kind of obscure things.”
Like her dexterously dreamy sound, her music’s taken on strange resemblances and re-assemblies of yesterday’s yearnings in other ways. As a child, her family took her to The Arlington Theatre, where she remembers “the little villas, wondering, ‘Who lives up there?’ As an adult, I thought that was a dream.” Years later, she “opened up for Father John Misty and stepped out onstage. It was magic — holy shit, that wasn’t a dream, it was real, I was here, and that was a real place.”
Creatively, she’s now making a more individual statement. “I’m trying to appeal to my idols, people I looked up to, and trying to be a part of that lineage. It’s time to let go and be inspired by Kate Bush and Enya and fierce powerful women that don’t seem to be answering to men.”
“I kind of could see where there was masculine influence, either in the studio, or in my life in the past, that have kind of prevented me to have the confidence to have exactly what I wanted to do,” she added. “I come from a family with two older brothers I’ve really looked up to, and I always wanted to belong to a pocket of musicians that can nod and agree something was good, to feel that kind of community. Deferring to men’s opinions as a young woman had been a weird safety net.”
Now she’s steering her own ship and forging ahead into our uncertain climate future, beautiful songs in tow. The show is at 8 p.m.
CASS BUT NOT LEAST: Another amazing singer/songwriter, Cass McCombs, comes through town in his ever-journeying way. Playing at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Tuesday, April 2, McCombs comes on the edge of his recent release, Tip of the Sphere. Music lovers know McCombs has been quietly and assuredly releasing some of the most compelling rock compositions of the last decade. See the craftsman at work staring at 8 p.m. with opener Sam Evian.