Our newest song "Here's Hoping" is out on Bandcamp now as the 7th installment on our humble exile collection that we've been working on and releasing incrementally since last summer. We explored some different sounds on this latest one, tapping into some dream-gazy 90s & 80s goth vibes. It is a song about seeing this mess we're in and seeing each other for who we are & actually finding some hope in that.
I've been wanting to make something like a dream-pop song for a while now- initially inspired when I fell in love with Mint Julep's Save Your Season (2011) several years ago. My thinking at the time was pretty simple- start with dreamy quiet vocals treated with atmospheric delay and reverb effects and go from there...
More recently I was listening to some Casket Girls and it reignited this interest to try something different like this. For inspiration here I leaned heavily on my favorite part of my favorite song of theirs "Day To Day" (True Love Kills the Fairy Tale 2014) to build from - a bass progression that I lifted & shifted by a half step - my thought/ hope being "will they mind if I borrow this?... they were hardly using it."
The drums on "Day To Day" have such a distinct rhythm that I wanted to be sure to steer clear from - otherwise a foundational homage to this incredible song could quickly turn into a mediocre copy, which I was really hoping we could avoid. So when I engaged Alex to record some drums, I wanted to reach further back further for the sound and capture something akin to "A Strange Day" by The Cure (Pornography, 1982). The tone and treatment of the bass was also drawn from the style of that era.
The recorded drum part that Alex came back with brilliantly distilled this input and nailed a sound that is both distinct and subtle, and just right for the song. As these parts came together, some effects at the beginning provided a not-so-subtle splash of "Plainsong", the opener of The Cure's Disintegration (1989).
I approached the guitars with the intention of doing something different there too - basically looking for a more "spacey" sound - and deployed some effects settings on my amp that I hadn't really tried out before. I'm really pleased with how those parts came out, although in the end I still layered the guitar with the same '65 Twin Reverb effect setting that I use on pretty much every song since Meet My Cat EP (2014). I hadn't really planned to use it again here, but it just brought everything together best in my ears.
We shared the isolated "guitars only WIP" for "Here's Hoping" to Soundcloud to check out if you'd like. What you hear here is pretty much exactly how the guitar tracks ended up in the final mix.
An early working title for this song was some combinations of the words "dark-dream-wave-pop" and our hope overall was to blend these sounds together to create something distinct from its various inspirations, and hopefully better than just a poor copy. Then while in the process of recording, I listened to the new Crystal Canyon release (Yours With Affection And Sorrow, 2021 on Repeating Cloud)- and all the textures and atmospheres - the ones I was clawing around for desperately trying to make work - are right there and it sounds so natural and effortless.
It was inspiring and discouraging in it's own way, making me feel like a tourist watching how the locals get things done. Musically that's a great deal of what "Here's Hoping" is about. Lyrically it is about the mess we are in, and our own responsibility to get ourselves out of it. This is certainly a theme that I thought about in relation to the recoding and mixing of the song itself.
Anyway, thanks for reading all this. It was a bit indulgent, kinda like the song itself. We hope you enjoy it.
Back in 2012, when I first bought my electric guitar and was trying to write songs & learn to play while singing, I had this concept for my debut that would be basically a story told for different months of the year - specifically the year 2011, since I guess I had a lot of stuff to work through then.
As a related side note, our 2016 "Humble Tracks" is available now on Spotify as well.
Check out the videos for "August" (parts 1 and 2), filmed when the recordings were made. The demo for Don't Even Try was originally recorded on my cell phone in January 2013 with vocals added in November 2020, and the acoustic version of Mop & Bucket was recorded in October 2020.
And the live video of "Blame the Dog" and "Fallout" was recorded in the Murder Room in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Watching these reminds me of how much I miss playing shows right now, but damn these are some good memories that I couldn't help but want to share. Thanks for indulging us!
Our new song "Crusades" is out now. It's the sixth song completed for our humble exile collection, where since July we've been releasing new songs as they are written and recorded one at a time.
"Crusades" was interesting to work on in a couple ways. Alex played bass on this one, and it has been a blast continuing to create new music with him, even if weren't still not rehearsing or playing in the same room these days. And our friend Nick from LFF played the drums this time. His technique and style uncovered an entirely different dimension and dynamic to the song than I ever would have envisioned, and the whole song is better for it.
Lyrically "Crusades" is pretty different too. I've noticed our other songs written this past year tend to have a distinctly internal focus (a lot of "I" & "my", etc) & personal narrative - probably from spending a lot of time in my own head these last few months. "Crusades" is much more externally focused (more "We" & "our") and explores trends that I've come to find quite troubling in recent years and this year in particular- a growing cultish mentality that mixes an abundance of rage/righteousness with a lack of compassion/empathy.
And then in the middle of mixing this song written about a mindless mob of zealots, the January 6 Insurrection Day riots broke out in Washington DC. It was a painful reminder of our violent nature, the divisions between us, and the many ways we remain in the Dark Ages. But I think the instrumental coda of "Crusades" offers something else: a call to embrace REASON and step into LIGHT.
And to top it all off, hopefully it's not too obvious but the intro is pilfered straight from that infectious Len song "Steal My Sunshine". Overall I think '93 makes a very fitting addition to our "humble exile" and likely the last one this year. But there almost definitely will be more to come. What exactly? I have no idea, except I have 3 or 4 ideas :)
And go ahead & check out the other great releases from Repeating Cloud while you're there. Stay safe and thanks again for all your support.
Oh yeah by the way the song we contributed for the comp is called "Broken Record" and here's a video we did for it-
We just released a new song called "SNR" as the second installment in our humble exile collection.
It's a bit more unhinged than usual for us. I wanted to make a song that jumped right in and went full stop for about two minutes. And it's undoubtedly a product of me spending too much time scrolling social media lately (particularly twitter), and the song is somewhat of a reflection on the blanket of noise that covers so many important issues going on today.
Like I said when releasing "What the heck" a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure then when the next song idea would come along or what it would be. And that's still the case now that "SNR" is finished and out there. This one really came together in just a couple days - a lot faster than I expected. And who knows - maybe the next one will too, or not. So yeah right now I have no idea what will come next, but I'm honestly pretty excited to discover whatever that is. Stay tuned.
But for now we hope you enjoy this song. We'd love if you'd stream it loud and if you share it with anyone you'd be our goddamn heroes. And if you want to buy it, the proceeds all go to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Thank you for listening. Talk is cheap. Be kind to each other. Black Lives Matter.
All proceeds from this release will go to the Equal Justice Initiative, who is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. See more information about Equal Justice Initiative at their website eji.org.
Here's a lyric video for "What the heck" featuring animations of the Mandelbrot set and other trippy fractals. I feel like the fractal visuals go well with the lyrical themes that we're all connected as part of something larger. And even though the divisions we invent among ourselves are superficial and arbitrary, the pain those divisions cause is real and hurts all of us.
Thank you for listening and remember to be kind to each other, and that Black Lives Matter.
*Update 12/24/2020* just noticed that David Lowery added In The Shadow Of The Bull to his bandcamp page over the summer (previously only available on limited edition CD) so I recommend checking it out and following him for timely info on any other music he releases.
I've been pretty into David Lowery's songwriting (Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven) since buying "Kerosene Hat" on CD as a high school kid in the mid-90s (and also as a college kid on a European study abroad in the early 00's). The mix of dry humor, harsh irreverence, and wistful vulnerability in Lowrey's lyrics always resonated with me. And the pairing with Johnny Hickman's smooth and skilled lead guitar work made their band Cracker stand out among their '90s alternative/grunge peers. Then at some later point I discovered that magic of Camper Van Beethoven, but that could be a topic of another blog post. Anyway, I saw Cracker play a few times in Atlanta when I was in college, and then more recently they seem to come around to Boston to play every year in January with Camper Van on the bill as well. So I had the chance to see them again last month and it was great hearing them again live.
At the show I saw the merch table had copies of David Lowery's "In The Shadow Of The Bull," a 2019 limited edition release of 1000 copies that was listed as "Out Of Stock" when I'd looked for it online a while back. I'd also noted that the songs didn't seem to be available to streaming anywhere- a bit surprising perhaps, but maybe less so if you're aware of Lowery's views on how modern music distribution affects artists' rights and livelihoods.
But a few copies the CD were available at the merch table that night - at a price considerably higher than I'm accustomed to paying for music anymore - but also it was autographed. I've also become accustomed to hearing music online before I purchase it, but that wasn't an option here. So I bought it, purely the on the blind (deaf?) faith in the artist's reputation. And I found my faith to be rewarded, because "In The Shadow Of The Bull" is definitely something special.
In this stripped down set of 7 songs, Lowery takes a look back across various periods of his life and captures moments from 1963 ("Frozen Sea") to 2010 ("Yonder Distance Shore"), with vivid reflections of his family, his friends, his loves, and his losses. Two songs that stood out immediately were "Disneyland Jail, 1977" - which warns of the dangers of doing mushrooms on Space Mountain (and passing out drunk on the monorail), and "Mexican Chickens, 1989" - which laments being too foolish and selfish to see what he had in someone before leaving her behind. I think the lyrics of this one are amazing and devastating.
An appeal in the liner notes asks the listener to be part of this project: "Please do not make copies, share on social media, or upload ... Think small. Ubiquity is overrated." And it all made sense, why the price of entry was so high, and the contents behind the gate not visible from the outside. I feel part of something now, something more like the way music was back when I was a kid in the early/mid 90s getting into a lot of the music I still love today.
So anyway, to weakly tie this back in to our band, here's a video of us playing CVB's "Take The Skinheads Bowling." Enjoy! <3 cg
Last week at Midway Cafe we premiered a new song with Jil on vocals and Alex on drums called "Level-Five." We're so happy with how it came together over the past couple of weeks, and it's a blast to play. Check it out and let us know what you think:
Thanks to Grateful Doug George for taking and posting this video- he captured our whole set actually, so if you feel like it you can check out the other songs too - my other favorites from that night include Sea Anonymity, Yukeathanasia, and this really sick sounding GTFO.
Check out Episode 118 of Heavy Leather Topless Dance Party- featuring us, Black Leather Lagoon, dancer Elsa Riot, and burlesque star Vera Rose.
We played Blame the Dog (8:50), Schrodinger's Threesome (11:30), and Sassy Assassin (45:40). Also, check out at 17:25 where Stacy DC makes no secret about how sexy she thinks Alex is, calling him "Perfection" :)
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