Brooklyn-based Pepi Ginsberg began putting her poems to songs while living in Philadelphia where she moved to study writing at Penn. Nine months into her songwriting journey, Pepi, with local friends, made the limited-press Orange Juice: Stephanie/Stephanie (2006), her first recording, which taps into raw, experimental folk. The next year, Pepi arranged and recorded Sometime Momma/Sometime Babe(2007), solo with her acoustic, in her bathtub. "It added reverb to the vocals," she explains, matter-of-fact. A few months later she crossed paths and formed a partnership with Dr.Dog frontman Scott McMicken. Her first "studio" album, 2008's acclaimed, RED (Park The Van), explores vintage psych-rock and folk and is the first album to show her live potential with a full band.
Not one to stay put artistically, Pepi decided to experiment with a wilder, fuller band sound for her follow-up, East is East. "I didn't want to just strum a song anymore," she says. "It's funny, but theses days it grosses me out to accompany myself with traditional arrangements. I've been corrupted." One member of her touring band, guitarist Amnon Freidlin (Normal Love, Zs), proved a catalyst for Pepi's "remodeling" of her sound. Bassist Jon Guez joined and further pushed the direction with his unique approach. Finally drummer Pete Angevine(Satanized, etc) whom Amnon and Jon had played with for many years, joined on, cookie sheet mounted on drum set and all, and completed the final piece of the puzzle. Over the course of the past year, Pepi and her guys hung out around Fishtown, Philadelphia, deepening their friendships and creating the vibrant Indian-summer world of East is East. Each composition takes the classic "songwriter's song" out of its traditional landscape and casts it in a bright, metallic light.
The idea for East is East was hatched while driving along the Montauk Highway, listening to Blonde on Blonde. According to Ginsberg, "I was hearing that record and feeling so excited about the idea of an album that was very contemporary for its time, but was also a lyrical rock and roll journey. I wanted to know what the love child of Bob Dylan and Deerhoof would sound like."
In East is East, Pepi Ginsberg and her collaborators step into the golden hour of the day and embrace "The most ephemeral of seasons." A mood and a time where we "know that change is coming in the form of a cool wind; we hold on until we let go." The song 'Summer Sick as Love' accomplishes this feeling, with its mythical descriptions of gutter punks and wind ravaged stop-signs, while other songs, such as 'Shake This,' prove Ginsberg as a true craftswoman, expounding emotion through simple, yet profound turns of phrase. Tracks, such as the electrically defiant 'Lost River,' find Ginsberg pushing against lyrical and melodic boundaries, in a story of adventure that ends in a cry of freedom from behind the walls of a jail. 'Coca Cola' is classic Pepi. Here again, her words, cadence, and delivery remind us that she participates in the great American songwriting tradition, even as she places her songs in an entirely new context. Ginsberg, with arrangements expertly handled by her band, creates a world with East is East, that is "the season in between," and parts the waters, navigating change in the sea of these strange times.