Photo: Shola Lawson
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Cyrus Gengras Fuckin’ Up My Name
For the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Cyrus Gengras, 2015 was one of the busiest of his life. In February, Gengras began touring as an accompanying guitar player for Jessica Pratt, shortly following the release of her second album “On Your Own Love Again”. The two-piece line-up spent the entirety of the year crisscrossing the globe, including multiple trips to Europe, as well as extensive touring in the U.S. and Australia.
During a brief respite in July, Gengras carved out enough time to bring to life a collection of songs he had been working on since moving to Los Angeles from the East Coast in 2012.
The result is Fuckin’ Up My Name.
The brash title belies the soft tones, careful orchestration and confessional lyrics found within, making the appellation feel like a Replacments-esque move; covering the fine brush strokes of the picture with a big fat paint streak across the canvas. While the song that bears the album title is a moody, fuzz-soaked instrumental interlude, it is also found in a lyric in “Every Dog I Know”, where Gengras sings: “Everyone sounds the same, when they’re fucking up my name”.
It describes a universal feeling of vulnerable otherness, of being misunderstood, of not being heard. Which serves as a loose theme to the collection of songs: the outsider’s internal monologue.
While outwardly, Gengras cuts an imposing figure – of the hand tattoos and gold tooth variety – his songs come from a place of vulnerable confession. While the lyrics stray from easy interpretation, allusions to distance and frailty abound, with tales of brittle bones, yearning for home and hiding under covers. Like any good confessional album, there are references to love, though it is at times deemed both a curse and a game.
While much of the tones of the album could fit comfortably in a number of contemporary record collections, Gengras peppers the record with these darker themes, matched by a careful placement of discordant moments and abrupt endings, making sure the album resists being background music, no matter how soothing it can sound.
Though Gengras spent years on the East Coast making home recordings and performing live, this collection of songs serves as his first proper album and has the signature sound of an artists’ first statement: everything is on display, everything is laid bare.
Fuckin’ Up My Name was recorded at Compn’y Studios in Burbank and engineered by Drew Fisher (Kevin Morby, Bleached, The Babies, Peaking Lights) and includes contributions from Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore) on piano and vibes, Justin Sullivan (The Babies, Kevin Morby) on drums and percussion and Jessica Pratt, who provides backup vocals on “Bad Dream Baby”, “Jack” and “Goes Away.”
Having recently joined Kevin Morby’s live band, Gengras is currently having yet another busy year and upon the release of Fuckin’ Up My Name, he will begin touring as solo performer, with West Coast dates in the early Fall and East Coast shows to follow.
Written by Justin Sullivan
Fuckin’ Up My Name
(Long Live Death Records)
Street Date: September 16, 2016
2. Don’t Know Why
3. It’s the Time
4. Quite Alright
5. Bad Dream Baby
6. Lover’s Curse
7. Other Side
8. Tiny Increments
9. Fuckin’ Up My Name
10. Every Dog I Know
11. Crossing the Wires
12. Goes Away