Without being able to rehearse or play shows as normal, focusing on new music became the next logical creative outlet. And as songs started coming out of this I assumed that for practical reasons it would continue to be basically a solo effort (like it was for "SNR" and "What the heck"). While Covid lockdown has possibly made solo writing & recording easier to focus on, it has definitely made collaboration much more difficult.
But then Alex emailed me this great song idea and I knew that this was the next one to work on. And "Having Fun" goes to show that when the song is right, working together on it comes easily despite any practical challenges. So Alex and I coordinated remotely over the past month - which basically entailed him sending me virtually finished & mixed drums, bass, and guitar tracks to sing over. So I added vocals and some lead guitar accents, and really the hardest part for me was trying to make sure anything I added didn't diminish the high quality foundation that Alex set up.
So we proudly present the thing that's been stuck in my head for the past month. It's available for streaming and download from Bandcamp (all proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative). And here's a silly lyric video that tries to reflect the beachy vibe of the tune. <3cg
You cut your leg off to save a buck or two
Because you never consider the cost
You find the lowest prices every day
But would you look at everything that we've lost - David Bazan, "Strange Negotiations" (2011)
Last month I saw an article about whether it was time for musicians to join the advertising boycott of Facebook and Instagram due to Facebook's reluctance to curtail hate speech and misinformation on it's platforms. My first instinct was to hope that maybe that some pressure like this could cause Facebook to change, but that hope was quickly dashed.
And I'm still thinking about our fucked-up relationship with social media and how we navigate that, both as individuals and as a collective. Some artists have made the tough choice to stop buying ads on these exploitative platforms, even though that comes at a high cost of not effectively reaching new or existing listeners.
But what can fans and listeners do? One thing is to spread the word about your favorite music, the old fashion way or otherwise. It costs nothing and means everything. Another thing is to follow your favorite artists over on Bandcamp, which also costs nothing. Bandcamp is the only platform that I can think of right now that doesn't make me feel gross and actually seems focused on users (both musicians and listeners) instead of advertisers.
And they are continuing their "Bandcamp Fridays," where they waive the platform revenue share so that money goes directly to the artists- the first Friday of every month through the end of the year.
Bazan may not have been thinking about social media giants back when he was writing Strange Negotiations almost a decade ago. But his insight into human nature makes his observations then just as (if not more) relevant today.
Homicidal Horticulturist is short but packs in a lot, and still makes space for the really interesting drum part on the chorus to shine though. The drums throughout the record are worth listening to closely. Here is a catchy jam channeling Pavement and again bringing great lead guitar hooks to bear. On it's heels is the also extremely catchy Real Allies. "Kill your enemies without making any real allies" Emory sings, right before unleashing the dueling guitars.
The Seven Seas depicts a relatable scenario from days gone by - "Tonight there is a show, seems like I outta go, but the effort that's required to untangle all the wires ... it's all imaginary when you stay home alone." Another highlight track is No Damn Good because it is just so damn good. Finally, Sojourn Suspect shifts gears with the groovy acoustic Downstream, which is reminiscent of some of the best stuff from Band of Horses. It's an excellent, interesting, and fitting closer.
I couldn't help but feel some envy while listing to Sojourn Suspect. This is very much the kind of music I'd like to be making. Recording everything by myself lately has me aware somewhat of the process, and appreciating how natural Emory's end product sounds here - everything blends just right, like it just came together with ease. The musicianship is top notch and shines through on each track - solid performances of great songwriting and exceptional creativity across the board.
I'll definitely recommend Sojourn Suspect, especially for fans of Bent Shapes, Dares, Tijuana Panthers, and (of course, Repeating Cloud label-mates) Lemon Pitch. Worth mentioning is that these are all bands I had to see live to be won over. Well, due to circumstances I haven't had that chance yet with Sojourn Suspect, but this record is so well done that it stands on its own. Hopefully these circumstances are fleeting, and Sojourn Suspect sticks around a lot longer.
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