Princeton Princeton is a Los Angeles-based trio that are releasing their second recording, the Bloomsbury EP, this Summer on Striking Peasant Recordings. The group lives in an aging green house on a hillside in the Eagle Rock district of LA where they hermetically pieced together the songs for Bloomsbury.
Each composition on the EP is lyrically focused upon a member of the influential Bloomsbury intellectual collective that existed in London during the early 20th century. Lyrical portraits of Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes are each presented in a different musical framework with lush orchestral arrangements that draw from a collage of influences — Serge Gainsbourg’s Gainsbourg Percussions, The Kinks’ Something Else, Jorge Ben’s Forca Bruta and Jean Claude Vannier’s L’enfant La Mouche Et Les Allumettes to name a few. The record was mixed by Pete Weiss (Moe Tucker, Lee Ranaldo, Aimee Mann) and mas-tered by Jeff Lipton (The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, Jeff Tweedy/Wilco).
The band is comprised of twin brothers Jesse (Vocals, Guitar, Ukulele, Drums, Keyboards), and Matt Kivel (Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards) and Ben Usen (Piano, Harpsichord, Organ, Fender Rhodes). The Kivels met Ben at the age of five while attending elementary school in Los Ange-les. Six years later they formed a tentative musical partnership after watching the 1996 Tom Hanks film “That Thing You Do!” A wide array of home recordings, live concerts and music video projects would follow with a constantly shifting cast of local collaborators.
Princeton was officially formed in 2005, during a year-long academic stay in London that found the three young men reunited for the first time since parting ways for college. Due to the steep costs of shipping their instruments overseas, the group was forced to perform live with a very limited musical setup, but the often-harrowing conditions of their London shows forced them to mature and develop into a finely-tuned live act. Each member reacted differently to the change in culture: Jesse found Virginia Woolf, Matt discovered John Cale’s Paris 1919, and the writings of John Maynard Keynes, while Ben pursued a short-lived career in international finance. Despite their sparse musical resources, the band recorded and self-released a limited edition mini album entitled A Case of the Emperor’s Clothes, which received high praise from a number of outlets including The Tripwire and My Old Kentucky Blog.
Graduation from college and a move back to Los Angeles in the summer of 2007 allowed Prince-ton to resume recording and performing full time.
Recently, Princeton has provided live support for Au Revoir Simone, Vampire Weekend, Satur-day Looks Good to Me, Le Loup, The Ruby Suns, My Brightest Diamond, Grand Ole’ Party, Joan As Policewoman and Cryptacize.