Tag: Drunken Prayer

Currently comprised of Evan Way, Brette Marie Way, Sam Fowles and Robbie Auspurger along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads can trace their origins to when its founding core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” As Way recalls “we would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have. We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”
So in 2005, the founding members of the band relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, eventually moving into a 1 bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way explains. But while in Los Angeles, the members of The Parson Red Heads became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason.
After 3 more years of writing, recording and touring, which resulted in an EP and their sophomore full-length Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare Studio with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey, the members of the band decided to quit their jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland.  But whether they were in Los Angeles or Portland, the band had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live act, with a folk sound that can easily go into rock mode — and in some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s influences include The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, Crosby, Nash, Stills and Young, Jackson Browne and others. In fact, with the band’s third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band wanted to capture their live, rock-leaning sound on wax. “We’ve always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
The psych folk/indie folk/indie rock act’s fourth full-length effort Blurred Harmony derives its name from a Donald Justice poem, and is slated for release next week through Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy Records here in the States, the home of JOVM mainstay Drunken Prayer, acclaimed singer/songwriter Fernando and Richmond Fontaine. And as Way explains, the band intended to do things differently — with the band recording and tracking themselves, setting up drums and amps and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep and trying to finish before it got too late. He goes on to say that “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.” And as you’ll hear on Blurred Harmonys latest, jangling and anthemic single “Coming Down,” the wisdom of someone, who’s lived a full, messy life and recognizing that experiencing everything life has to offer is part of the purpose and forms who you are and who you’ll be, but with a sense of awe, joy and gratitude. “I’m alive, I’m okay and those who I cherish and love are alive and okay, and that’s really all that maters,” the song seems to say. But thanks to its jaunty and infectiously upbeat feel, the song also evokes the experiences of being on the road, of seeing things you’d never seen before, of meeting people you’d never met before, of strange languages you can barely pronounce, of an aching loneliness — and it all further cementing yourself and your place in the scheme of things.

 

 

 

 

 

Initially started as a one-off vehicle to release a record for a friend, Portland, OR-based indie label Fluff and Gravy Records has established themselves as arguably one of the most unique and difficult to pigeonhole labels in the country as they’ve released  albums that have run the gamut from Americana, indie folk, punk rock, indie rock, garage punk, alt country and even British folk from a diverse and eclectic set of artists including JOVM mainstay Drunken Prayer, Hillstomp, Jeffrey Martin, Fernando Viciconte, The Evangenitals, Anna Tivel and several others. To celebrate their fifth anniversary, the Portland-based label is releasing the Five Years of Gravy compilation — and according to the folks at the label, the compilation isn’t a mere retrospective; in fact, it’s a compilation of new and unreleased tracks from 17 of the label’s artists that they feel offers a glimpse of where the label and its artists have been and where they all are going. But the label and its artists also see the compilation as a way of giving back as the proceeds from sales of the album will benefit The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, a musicians’ nonprofit health and services organization that assists individual musicians and their families throughout the Pacific Northwest during medical emergencies — and is supported by fans, musicians and friends. Certainly, the work of charitable organizations such as The Jeremy Wilson Foundation will see even greater importance in light of President-elect Donald Trump’s threatened plans to cut Obamacare and with most musicians being independent contractors, access to affordable healthcare for musicians and their families will be critical.

Now, earlier this year you may recall that I had written about the Argentina-born, Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter Fernando Viciconte, who performs under the mononym Fernando. Viciconte first came to attention as the frontman oft he Los Angeles-based rock band Monkey Paw, and when the band broke up, Viciconte relocated to Portland where he began to focus on a solo career that began in earnest with the 2006 release full-length debut Enter to Exit, an effort which was critically praised by a number of major media outlets including BillboardMagnet (which named Fernando, one of the best, new artists of 2006), PasteThe OregonianNo Depression and MSNBC.com, among a lengthy list of others. Just as Viciconte’s profile and career were  set to explode into the national scene, the Argentina-born, Portland-based singer/songwriter suffered through several major health issues, which nearly resulted in the permanent loss of his voce — and as you can imagine, his health issues prevented him from touring. Fortunately for Viciconte and for us, after going through a number of doctors, it was revealed that his illness was misdiagnosed and the root cause of his issues, a hiatal hernia that caused heartburn and acid reflux, which bathed his vocal vocal chords in his stomach acid, was fixed surgically.

Viciconte’s eighth full-length effort Leave the Radio On was released last year through Fluff and Gravy Records and although the album took three years to complete, the album has the Portland-based singer/songwriter backed by an all-star cast featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, who has been an early champion of Viciconte’s work; Scott McCaughey as well as members of M.Ward and Elliott Smith‘s backing bands, Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. Of course, if you had been frequenting this site, you may recall act I wrote about Leave the Radio On‘s first single “Save Me,” a bitter and aching lament of a song that evoked the lingering ghosts of one’s life — the failed relationships, the misguided decisions and poor judgements and the crushing doubts that seem inescapable and yet, finding a way to move forward with your dignity, sanity and sense of self intact. His contribution to the compilation “No Regrets” continues in a similar vein to “Save Me” as it’s a mournful lament from a narrator, who looks back on his life with an uncommon clarity and honesty, with the song’s narrator sadly admitting that he may be at fault for the mistakes and poor decisions of his life. Sonically, Viciconte’s aching vocals are accompanied with a country-leaning arrangement of steel pedal guitar, acoustic guitar, gently padded drums and twinkling keyboards — and in some way pairing the song’s sentiment with its arrangement makes the song sound as though it could be the soundtrack of lonely men lost in thought and drinking their sorrows away. And much like “Save Me,” “No Regrets” evokes life’s lingering ghosts — but in this case with a weary sense of acceptance.

 

Of course, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you’re probably well acquainted with Drunken Prayer, the recording project of Morgan Christopher Geer, who currently splits time between Portland, ORAsheville, NC and Louisville, KY — and is a touring member of renowned act Freakwater.  Into the Missionfield, Geer’s Drunken Prayer debut was released in 2012 to critical praise both locally and nationally — Portland’s Willamette Week describing Geer as a “barking ringleader with chops between Tom Waits and The Butthole Surfers‘ Gibby Haynes” and the Portland Mercury describing Geer as Warren Zevon’s medium, showing him the world from the great beyond.” Since then Geer has been rather prolific realizing several lyrically and sonically ambitious albums that have been praised for his signature sound — a sound that meshes elements of the blues, country, folk music, 60s psych and soul music and New Orleans-styled funeral dirges paired with lyrics that explore our existence through the prism of the tragicomic. In fact, Geer’s material suggests something that most of us loathe to admit — that life is often bitterly cruel and ironic. And in those moments, the only option you have is to do as the old song says “Laugh and never let the world know that deep down, you’re crying.”

 

2016 has been a very busy year as Geer released The Devil and the Blues. Featuring Lance Willie (drums) and David Wayne Gay (bass), his former bandmates in The Unholy Trio and former members of The Reigning Sound, as well as guest spots from The Sadies‘ Dallas Good (guitar), Aaron Price (organ, piano and engineering), Anna Trivel (fiddle) and a small horn and section, Geer’s latest effort was Geer’s “party album” — and by party, the material thematically covers and explores sadness, rebellion and redemption in Geer’s signature rowdy, riotous, loutish, proud and somewhat ridiculous fashion. His contribution to the compilation “I Feel Into The Sun,” is an atypical Geer song, as it’s a swooning and infectiously sweet love song with a wicked sense of humor. Yes, underneath all that loutishness and joke cracking is a sweet, aching heart desiring love and its redemption.