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Age Sex Occupation

Age Sex Occupation is an independent soul-rock lovechild. In direct alignment with the subversive name of the band, the new album This Side Of The Fence fiercely refuses to be confined within the limits of a single category. The gritty, Cosmopolitan slice-of-life lyrical approach to hard spiritual lessons learned and passions realized seem a little more heated than regular, rote Pacific NW fare.

Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Daniel Weiskopf was raised in upstate New York, studied in Montreal and wandered about Seattle before hitting Portland. That spread of travel in bigger cities with different music scenes can be heard in This Side Of The Fence, though Weiskopf's sublime vocals are probably a thing unique to any performer, regardless of background

"My highs and lows with life as an adult in the Northwest fuels my creativity now," Weiskopf admits. "Being hindered by the rain also helps me hone my sound and unleash my creative energy." The extremely proficient, sweetly bluesy vocalist and richly diverse keyboardist betrays a youthful obsession with perfect soul-pop masterpieces like Stevie Wonder's Innervisions and the multi-layered Dark Side of The Moon. His lyrics confess passion ("did you fall in love with a girl from another world?" from the song "Another World") and learning through suffering ("a story to tell, it starts in heaven and goes through hell" from "Volcano").

Weiskopf began writing music with the interest of scoring films and studied avant-garde classical composing, but found he wanted to have a band that was accessible in the way his favorite artists were; the kind that blended together many genres. "It seemed like the goal of the music professors at school was to get listeners to say, 'Hmm, interesting,' and that was lame and narcissistic," he says. "Music, to me, has always been a vehicle of inspiration, expression, and celebration. For example, during album production, the more wacky the idea the better. In the studio I am able to highlight differences in a way that I could live if it were affordable to support a ten-player band. I am still a writer/composer at heart and the studio is my Orchestra Pit."

Producer Jordan Richter (Caves, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers) recorded This Side Of The Fence at SuperDigital with Weiskopf and the musicians he hooked up with -- the deft and lissome rhythm duo of bassist Justin Keeth and Joey McAllister on drums. Part of its appeal is the use of sparkling backing vocalists: Nicole Berke, harmonizing playfully with Weiskopf, and Beth Crawford giving well-humored back up on the slinky "Glass Slippers." Additional percussion from former Cake drummer Todd Roper adds rhythmic zest, and local fixtures Joel Ricci of March Fourth Marching Band and Nate Lumbard supplement the album with tight horns. Mastered by Justin Phelps (Amanda Palmer, Jodie Holland), the whole project sounds clear and deep.

"I had Jordan co-produce our EP, but that was more like a getting-to-know-each other situation on a very small budget," Weiskopf explains. "I was drawn to the punchy, exciting, full sounds he gets out of his recordings, and his professionalism when we got started." Keeth appreciated his honesty and boldness in advising the band. "He wasn't afraid to tell us when something wasn't working and gave suggestions for how it could be improved." McAllister muses that, working with Jordan, "Some of it, like covering my drum heads with newspaper, was surprising but fitting."

This Side Of The Fence features everything from urban blues-soul stormers such as opener "Dirt Isn't Dirty," to blissful pop gems like "Volcano," to the sultry soul swagger of "Glass Slippers" and the expansive, anthemic closer "Lullaby." The ten tracks on Age Sex Occupation's full-length debut betray the musicians' inspiration by artists traversing the musical spectrum from Stevie Wonder to Erykah badu, OK Go to Michael Jackson, and P-Funk to The Cure. This Side Of The Fence reveals a band excited by soul classics and psychedelic blues rock; a Pac NW band's response to the soul elevation of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley. Expertly played soul-rock goodness with lyrics unafraid to be realistic and ruminative.

The album closes with the lyrics "It soothes me deep down to the core / The sweet lullaby of the ocean floor," an almost haunting yet uplifting ending to the musical journey brought to life in This Side of the Fence.