Tag: David Bazan

New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Lucius Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous Rendition of a Christmastime Classic for Charity

Richard Swift was a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (best known as a guitarist) producer, and owner of National Freedom Studio, who was largely considered a musician’s musician as he quietly built up an acclaimed career as a member of The Shins, The Black Keys and The Arcs; Swift also developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator and producer, who worked with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, The Pretenders, Kevin Morby, Sharon Van Etten, Valerie June, Damien Jurado, David Bazan, Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Lonnie Holley, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, Guster, Lucius and others. He was also a solo artist, who had released seven full-length albums through Secretly Canadian Records during his life — with his posthumously released eighth album The Hex being released earlier this year. 

Back in June, Pitchfork reported that Swift had been hospitalized in Tacoma, WA, recovering from a then-undisclosed life threatening condition and that a GoFundMe had been set up to help cover his medical expenses. Sadly, this isn’t surprising as musicians work as independent contractors, who have to pay the bills you need to get by, pay for studio time, and pay for medical expenses and insurance out of pocket.  If you’re a struggling working musician, you make the bulk of your living from touring or from being a session musician — and if you’re too sick to tour or get to the studio, it makes things increasingly difficult. A few weeks later, Swift died and about a week after his death, his family released a statement confirming that he had suffered from alcohol addition throughout his life, and that his death was ultimately caused by complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress. 

Understandably for those within the larger music community, who worked with him, Swift’s death was devastating. As Luicus’ Jess Wolfe recalls in press notes, “We were on tour in Europe when we lost Richard. We didn’t get to say goodbye face to face. We didn’t get to go to the memorial service. I didn’t get a chance to hear his voice. I only talked to him while he slept, hoping somehow, in his dreams, he was hearing us. We sang to him. We sang to him and it was the worst and best gift we’d ever received. Somehow, pouring out something for someone who has done so much for your musical life, is the only way to cope. This loss really messed us up, as I know it did all of us in the musical community, and we felt the need, the urgency, to make sure to do something about that.” 

What initially started off as a small way that the members of the acclaimed Los Angeles-based act Lucius could personally and actively bring awareness to the impact of drug and alcohol addiction within the music community has grown into a much larger concept that they’ve dubbed THE FUG YEP SOUNDATION. Derived from a phrase that Swift coined, the idea is a 7″ record series with each release featuring 2 songs by many of Swift’s closest friends and collaborators. All artist proceeds and profits from the 7″ record series will give financial aid to the Swift family, as well as MusiCares, the charitable wing of the Recording Academy, who had Swift with many of his medical bills — and Music Support UK, who do similar work for British musicians. 

“Richard would have probably hated this attention,” Wolfe continued. “But we all wanted to do more for him, we all wanted to be a part of a better way, to be helpful. I think we can all agree, the best way we can do this moving forward is awareness. What a gift that we’re able to offer what we love in honor of those we love. What better way to feature his art, and his imprint on all of us, then to share it with you.” Pure Bathing Culture’s Sarah Versprille adds “Each over features Swift’s original artwork. He was a prolific and persistent visual artist. He made work all the time and his studio was just as much a place for creating visual art as it was for making music. Shealynn (Richard’s wife) has helped us curate a collection of his pieces for each cover of this series that provide a window into this side of his genius, humor and creativity.”

The first release of the series is slated for a December 7, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Music and will feature two singles written and recorded by Lucius at Swift’s National Freedom Studios last April — the A-side “Christmas Time Is Here” and the B-side “Keep Me Hanging On.” The A-side single is a atmospheric rendition of “Christmas Time Is Here” that sounds as though it could have been released sometime between 1956 – 1965 as it pairs a lush arrangement of shimmering keys, reverb-heavy guitars and gently padded drumming paired with Wolfe and Laessig’s stunningly gorgeous harmonizing. While being a holiday staple, the Lucius version possess a weary heartache — the sort that comes with the passing of time and the gnawing reminders that loved ones aren’t around to celebrate another holiday, and the passing of another year. 

Last month, I wrote about the indie rock All-Star act Lo Tom, an indie rock act, which features some incredibly accomplished musicians and artists, with more than 125 combined years of playing, writing, recording and touring as professional musicians. And interestingly enough, the band, which is currently comprised of  David Bazan, best known for his work in Pedro the Lion; Trey Many, a member of Velour 100 and Starfinder 59; TW Walsh, a bandmate of Bazan’s in Pedro the Lion, a member of The Soft Drugs and a well-regarded solo artist; and Jason Martin, a bandmate of Trey Many in Starfinder 59 are long-time friends, who used to mess around and jam together, missed playing together and decided that they should spend some time writing and recording together.

The quartet’s self-tiled debut is slated for a July 14, 2014 release through Barsuk Records and was written and recorded during a rare period of free time that each member of the quartet could spare. And the sessions consisted of the longtime friends meeting up with some loose riffs and beats and seeing where things would go, while Bazan, who wrote most of the album’s lyrics would make up something quickly and on the spot, before eventually refining them. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single “Overboard” possessed the looseness of four, friends and old pros getting together and jamming, and as soon as someone starts off with a idea, the other bandmates know where to go and how to flesh it out.  The band manages to find a comfortable balance a free-flowing, jam session within a band that also manages to seamlessly mesh elements of the work of each individual member; in fact, the single features the soaring hooks and power chords of the alt rock and power pop that have clearly influenced it, and each member’s own work.

The album’s second and latest single “Covered Wagon” will further cement each member’s individual reputation for crafting hook-laden, anthemic, power chord-based indie rock. But interestingly enough, the song to my ear reminds me of Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3‘s excellent Northern Aggression, Vs. and Vitalogy-era Pearl Jam, as it may arguably be one of the more straightforward and forceful rock songs off the new album — and one of my favorites of the entire summer so far.

Last month, the band announced their first live dates together, and as you may recall, the tour includes an August 12, 2017 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:

08/11 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall (tickets / info)
08/12 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade (tickets / info)
08/17 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (tickets / info)
08/18 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater (tickets / info)
08/19 Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern (tickets / info)

Comprised of David Bazan, best known for his work in Pedro the Lion; Trey Many, a member of Velour 100 and Starfinder 59; TW Walsh, a bandmate of Bazan’s in Pedro the Lion, a member of The Soft Drugs and a well-regarded solo artist; and Jason Martin, a bandmate of Trey Many in Starfinder 59, the members of indie rock All-Star act Lo Tom   features some incredibly accomplished members, with more than 125 combined years of playing, writing, recording and touring as professional musicians. And interestingly enough, the project can trace its origins to its members being long-time friends, who used to mess around and jam together, missed playing together, and decided to spend some time writing and recording together.

In fact, the quartet’s self-titled debut, which is slated for a July 14, 2017 release through Barsuk Records was written and recorded during the rare free time each of its members could spare and consisted of the four friends convening with some loose riffs and beats and seeing where things would go while lyrically speaking Bazan, who wrote most of the album’s lyrics, would make up something quickly and on the spot before eventually refining them. And as you’ll hear on “Overboard,” Lo Tom’s first single of their self-titled debut, the song possesses the looseness of four, old pros and friends jamming together and knowing where each one is going while seamlessly meshing elements of the sounds and aesthetics that have made each of them success within their own projects, complete with the soaring hooks and huge power chords of the alt rock and power pop that have clearly influenced it; but perhaps more important the song has a swooning and urgent earnestness that belies the bandmembers’ casual and off-hand manner in describing how things came together.

With the release of the new single, the band announced their first live dates together, and it includes an August 12, 2017 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:

08/11 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall (tickets / info)
08/12 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade (tickets / info)
08/17 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (tickets / info)
08/18 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater (tickets / info)
08/19 Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern (tickets / info)

 

 

 

 

Perhaps best known for his stint with long-time collaborator David Bazan in Pedro the Lion, TW Walsh emerged as a highly regarded singer/songwriter with the 2011 release of Songs of Pain and Leisure. And as Walsh explained in press notes, after the release of every album he’s worked on, he’s often thought about packing it in and doing something else — and with Songs he had felt as though he may have completed something.

At the beginning of 2013, Walsh came down with a mysterious and debilitating illness and over the next 18 months, the singer/songwriter struggled to function. “I didn’t have the energy to be creative . . . I could barely function at all. The only diagnosis I ever received was chronic fatigue syndrome. but I’m still not convinced that was correct. I’ll probably never know what was wrong with me. I’m still not nearly 100%. Eventually, I started to feel better, but then I fell off my bike and broke my elbow. This made it impossible to play guitar or drums for several months” Walsh adds in press notes.

Walsh eventually started to feel healthy enough to start messing around with song ideas. He recorded several demos but nothing sounded quite right to him — he wanted the arrangements to be weirder and more varied and didn’t know how exactly to do it. As the story goes, Walsh contacted Yuuki Matthews, known for his work with The Shins, David Bazan, Crystal Skulls and Teardrops in early 2014 to collaborate together. “This approach clicked” Walsh said “so over the course of exactly one year, we finished the ten songs that make up Fruitless Research. In a few cases, Yuuki reworked the songs from the ground up — keeping only the vocal and some drum elements, and building a new chord progression around the melody. In other cases, he added overdubs and did some creative editing. But in every instance, his vision pushed the song over the edge into something exciting . . . something that I wouldn’t have done on my own. His mixes also blew me away. They’re pretty unconventional at times in their saturation and character. It kind of sounds like a tape from the 80’s you left in the car too long.”

Walsh adds, “Lyrically, this record documents a time of upheaval, discovery and change for me. I turned 40 right in the middle of it. I’ve been working through a lot of existential stuff. At some point, you gotta take a hard look at reality. Try to figure out what your life means.”

“Young Rebels,” the first single off Fruitless Research consists of twisting and turning synth chords, buzzing guitar, throbbing bass and thundering drums paired with an incredibly anthemic hook, and in some way it makes the song sound as though it were recorded in 1983 — think of The Fixx‘s “Red Skies” — but on old, warped analog tape that’s sat around in a dusty room.