“Rock and roll is sort of my consolation prize for wanting to have been a writer,” says James Alex. It’s a humble admission from the frontman of Philadelphia’s Beach Slang, a fiery punk quartet whose raucous gigs often find the songwriter’s earnest lyrics bellowed back at him. His new project QUIET SLANG is a direct confrontation to the trembling walls of distortion that serve as Beach Slang’s raison d’etre. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice on the debut full length album Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, due out May 18 on Big Scary Monsters (BSM).
James Alex - “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements,
QUIET SLANG is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.”
Lead album single “Dirty Cigarettes” debuted with an emotionally off-kilter video featuring Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds) & Heather McIntosh (Elephant 6, of Montreal) today. Alex shares, "You can be born into damage, into being forgotten. That stuff sticks with you, you know? You sort of just swirl around, looking for something that makes you feel like you might matter. Sometimes you get lucky and that feeling shows up. Other times, it’s tougher. “Dirty Cigarettes” was filmed in an empty church reception hall the day after a wedding—a strange mix of love and loneliness. Something about that felt right. And for an afternoon, I felt
Alex linked up with longtime co-producer Dave Downham for Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, who worked with him in bringing on cellist Dan Delaney and pianist Keith Giosa. Rounding out the crew were Stacey Downham, Matt Weber, Charlie Lowe and New Jersey quartet The Warhawks, who lent their voices to evoke what Alex describes as a “back alley choir.”
Though a new Beach Slang record is next up on Alex’s docket, he’s open to the possibility of more QUIET SLANG. The project’s sophomore release, he notes, would contain original songs. Regardless of its future, however, he hopes the project can convey one simple thing: “Tenderness. I suppose that sounds overly simplified. But, still, it makes it no less sincere. Look, I’m trying to soften the world a little bit—there’s worse ways to be remembered.”