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Set in a town that perpetually runs at full speed, J. Allen’s ‘Wonder City’ observes the modern metropolis from just outside of its whirlwind. His heartbreaking bedroom epics enrapture the listener with large scale washes of melody, while using the city’s hums and whooshes as a backdrop upon which to layer songs of solitude and reflection, dreams and distraction.
J. Allen is the reclusive songwriter and founding member of Brooklyn’s spacey folk outfit Meanwhiles. In early 2010, finding himself currently unsigned, he began recording and arranging what would become his first ever solo release, ‘Wonder City‘. The nine song LP is a true ‘solo’ record on which he writes, plays, and sings all of the parts himself.. except for the street noise and subway rumble. He captures those ‘on location’ with film production microphones and portable recording equipment. In an affecting combination of sound design and intimate performance each track blends together recordings from different sonic spaces, resulting in a cinematic landscape of a song. A verse might take place on a rainy street…a chorus in a quiet bedroom.
In his time with Meanwhiles, J. Allen and his brother Todd recorded 2 full length albums, 2 eps and travelled across the US and Europe, sharing stages with the likes of Martha Wainwright and Dean Wareham. Their debut album, ‘The Nights Rewind’ features Wainwright singing harmony vocal with Allen and was produced alongside Alan Weatherhead (Sparklehorse, Mary Timony). In late 2006 it was released by Decoder Records in Germany and the band began touring in earnest. Meanwhiles released their second LP, ‘Slow Motion Summer’ in 2009 on which Weatherhead again lent pedal steel and orchestral samples to the mix, as he had for ‘The Nights Rewind’. The London songwriter Nadine Khouri also made a guest appearance adding a haunting vocal to Allen’s ‘Dreams from the Underground’.
‘Wonder City‘ has been officially released in Europe and the UK in September 2012 to coincide with a European tour and performances at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, and the CMJ Music festival in NY. More touring will follow in early 2013, as well as video releases for ‘Afterglow’, ‘Heavy Head’ and ‘Other Side of the Day’.