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Parsing Out a Pair of Proficient Pop Players, Peaches or Porches?

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(Photoshop by John Ambrosio, images via Peaches, Porches)

Now, I know that my excellent Photoshop skills have no doubt tricked you into believing that this (see above) is simply your average, un-doctored photo, but— and you’ll have to just take my word on this— it’s actually a composite of two promotional photos. The image on the right was used in ads for indie band Porches’ latest album, Pool, whereas the hotdog’d one on the left was used by performance artist/electronic musician Peaches.

Confusing, I know– Peaches or Porches? Both are common nouns, both can claim ownership of vaguely human forms, both share five out of seven letters in their names and, oh man, do both know how to make some titillating promotional artwork. Let’s see if we can’t sort this out.

SOUNDS LIKE…

Peaches is a singer/performance artist whose music is part electro-pop, part punk, part hip-hop and all-around arty insanity. Her lyrics tend to be on the hyper-sexual/sex-positive side– in the way that Barry White music “tends to be” thought of as lovemaking music— as does her flamboyant stage presence, which usually involves stuff like performers dressed up as vaginas.

Porches, for the uninitiated, are the formerly lo-fi indie but currently lo-fi synth pop project of singer/songwriter Aaron Maine, aka Ronald Paris, also-aka Ronnie Mystery. That about clears it up, right?

Initially, the band sounded not unlike their bedroom-based indie-rock contemporaries, acts like Alex G. With their most recent album, however, their sound has changed significantly, taking on a synth-driven sound with elements of dream pop. New Yorkers may also know their frontman Maine as “that guy who looks like he was creaming his jeans on those ads at the Bedford L stop a few months back.”

NEW MATERIAL

Peaches put out her last album, Rub, in September of last year. The record featured Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Simone Jones, and Feist, the current indie-pop start who also happens to be Peaches’ former roommate.

Porches’ new record is called Pool and came out in February of this year. Like their first album, it was recorded at home in Maine’s Manhattan apartment. Unlike their first album, Pool was put out on Domino—”I need to finish the album I’m doing for a major UK indie label” is, coincidentally, the best excuse I can think of for bailing on plans to hang out in favor of staying home.

ROOTS

Peaches played in a number of bands, including the folk trio Mermaid Cafe and the rock band The Shit, in the early- to mid-’90s before establishing herself as a solo performer. After working in the US and her native Canada for many years, she moved to Berlin, a city where nine out of ten residents are performance artists.

Porches formed in upstate New York in 2010 (well, Westchester County, but that’s upstate to me). They started as a fairly straightforward indie-rock project led by Maine that also featured Frankie Cosmos’ Gretta Kline (aka Kevin Kline’s daughter) on bass— Kline and Maine are a couple, in case you’re wondering. They got some buzz and moved to the city and are, presumably, living the dream.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Peaches took her stage name from a Nina Simone song called “Four Women.” The song, which is about the lives and many hardships of four women, ends with a verse that goes:

“My skin is brown, my manner is tough,

I’ll kill the first mother I see, my life has been too rough,

I’m awfully bitter these days, because my parents were slaves,

What do they call me? My name is Peaches.”

Porches, as far I can tell, has not said much about where their band name comes from. Maine has, however, commented in several interviews about the origin of the aliases Ronald Paris, Ronnie Mystery and, for that matter, Frankie Cosmos. All three of them come from pet names in-joking between Maine and Kline, which are also a part of their efforts to separate their musical relationship from their romantic one.

“We’ve been calling each other Frank and Ron for, like, two years now,” Maine explained. “It’s just nice to separate your personal life and your music even if it’s just by not calling each other our actual names. It’s just like a little piece of glass that makes it not too personal, or fictional to the point where you can exaggerate stuff for the sake of the narrative of the song.”

WHERE TO SEE THEM

Peaches is playing in New York City twice next month, first at Rough Trade in Brooklyn on September 12 and on September 13 at Webster Hall.

Porches is going on tour in support of their newest album, but it looks like they won’t be playing New York for a while. Their next show in NYC won’t be until October, when their tour ends, but they’re playing the Made in America festival in Philadelphia, which is pretty close by, on September 3.

What Do You Think?

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