Tag: The Byrds

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.” 

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “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,” Way fondly recalls. “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.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one 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 says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ 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,” Way recalls.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare 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. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they relocated to Portland. 

With their first two albums, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver

2017’s Blurred Harmony found the JOVM mainstays actively intending to do things much differential than their previously released work — with the band recording and tracking themselves. They would set up drums and amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “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.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band, and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited touring guitarist Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date. 

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single was classic Parson Red Heads — a breezy yet carefully and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal. rousing sing-a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive vocals and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track possessed a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe, that evokes the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness. Interestingly, Lifetime of Comedy‘s second and latest single “Turn Around” is a shimmering and heartfelt declaration of devotion but unlike its predecessor, it sound as though it were influenced by classic 80s and early 90s jangle pop, complete with soaring organs. It’s the sort of sweet and timeless love song that’s deceptively simple yet absolutely necessary. Sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”

“‘Turn Around’ started as a lot of the songs I’ve been writing these days do – as a half-jibberish sung melody line, sung into my phone’s voice memo while driving,” The Parson Red Heads’ frontman Evan Way explains in press notes. “It stayed in that form for a good year before I found it, dusted it off, and brought it to the band. This song is a testament to the strength of the bands collaborative writing on this album. Everyone’s parts are so integral to the song’s small and simple beauty. It’s a simple love song, the lyrics a statement of devotion – in many ways, it is like a classic old Parson Red Heads song, in both theme and sound, but it has this element of The La’s or The Charlatans in it that I just love. And Raymond (Richards, multi-instrumentalist and producer) was able to help us get such a great mix of guitar sounds, 12-strings, Nashville strung electric – a great balance of being lush without being over-crowded.”  

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.”

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “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,” Way fondly recalls. “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.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one 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 says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ 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,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare 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. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they would relocate to Portland.

Simultaneously, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver.

The Portland-based band’s fourth album, 2017’s Blurred Harmony found the band actively intending to do things differently than they did on their previously released work — with them and recording and tracking themselves: frequently, they would set up drums ad amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “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.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band — and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited their touring Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope.

“All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single is classic Parson Red Heads — breezy yet careful and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal, rousing sing–a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive falsetto and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track manages to possess a subtle free-flowing, jammier vibe. If you pay close attention, you can literally feel longtime friends creating something with a revitalized sense of togetherness.

Featuring a regretful and brokenhearted narrator, “All I Wanted” thematically is full of the hindsight and regret of someone looking back at the past — their past selves, their past mistakes and misgivings — and wishing that there was some way that they could undo it, so that they could remain in a relationship that they desperately prized above everything else. And yet, there’s a tacit recognition that while you may pine for the past, you can’t ever get it back. In fact, life does what it always does — pushes and forces you forward.

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New Audio: RidingEasy Records Releases a Shimmering Psych Rock Anthem from Indianapolis-based Band ICE

Over this site’s 10 year history — 10 years y’all! — Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records’ ongoing collaborative proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 1960s and 1970s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking own songs’ creators. The Brown Acid series proves that there’s a massive amount of heavy psych and proto-metal that has managed to be lost to the sands of time, including Indianapolis-based act ICE, who were prominently featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip.

Formed during the late 1960s, the members of the Indianapolis-based quintet — Barry Crawford (vocals, keys) Jim Lee (lead vocals, bass), Mike Saligoe (drums), John Schaffer (lead guitar) and Richard Strange (rhythm guitar, vocals) — grew up in Indianapolis’ West Side. In a relatively short period of time, the members of ICE became one of the first emerging bands from their hometown to tour across the Midwest, playing a set of originals at high schools, college campuses and small clubs. Eventually the band built up enough of a profile regionally that they wound up opening for nationally touring acts like Three Dog Night, SRC,Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters.

Back in 1970, Crawford, Lee, Saligoe, Schaffer and Strange recorded 10 songs of original material at Chicago’s 8-Track Studios. But shortly after the sessions, the band split up. Confusingly, two of tracks recorded during those sessions were eventually as a 45 in 1972   — but under a completely different band name, Zukus! That 45 managed to receive regional airplay: the A side of that 45 was “Running High,” which appeared on the aforementioned Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip. While Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records were going through the process to license “Running High,” they discovered that ICE had an entire album of material, recorded on 2 inch tape that had languished for over 40+ years on a shelf somewhere.

RidingEasy Records then converted the analog tape tracks to digital files and then remixed them to preserve the original vocals and instrumentation. Packaging the material as The Ice Age, the material will see the light of day for the first time in 50 years with the album’s release next week. The album is 10 songs of hard-edged rock with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks that may remind some listeners of the Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, The Move and others.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the Steppenwolf and The Guess Who-like “Run To Me,”  and the album’s shimmering The Byrds-like “Gypsy.” Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Satisfy” strikes me as being a synthesis between the shimmering psych rock of its immediate predecessor, the soaring and propulsive organ work of Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida” and The Doors with a subtle nod to prog rock paired with enormous hooks. Certainly, in an alternate universe, “Gypsy” and “Satisfy” would be in the classic rock canon. 

New Audio: Indianapolis-based ICE Releases a Shimmering Arena Rock Friendly Single

Over this site’s 10 year history — 10! — Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ ongoing collaborative proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 1960s and 1970s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking own songs’ creators. The Brown Acid series proves that there’s a massive amount of heavy psych and proto-metal that has managed to be lost to the sands of time, including Indianapolis-based act ICE, who were prominently featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip.

Formed during the late 1960s, the members of the Indianapolis-based quintet — Barry Crawford (vocals, keys) Jim Lee (lead vocals, bass), Mike Saligoe (drums), John Schaffer (lead guitar) and Richard Strange (rhythm guitar, vocals) — grew up in Indianapolis’ West Side. In a relatively short period of time, the members of ICE became one of the first emerging bands from their hometown to tour across the Midwest, playing a set of originals at high schools, college campuses and small clubs. Eventually the band built up enough of a profile regionally that they wound up opening for nationally touring acts like Three Dog Night, SRC,Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters.

Back in 1970, Crawford, Lee, Saligoe, Schaffer and Strange recorded 10 songs of original material at Chicago’s 8-Track Studios. But shortly after the sessions, the band split up. Confusingly, two of tracks recorded during those sessions were eventually as a 45 in 1972   — but under a completely different band name, Zukus! That 45 managed to receive regional airplay: the A side of that 45 was “Running High.” While Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records were going through the process to license “Running High,” they discovered that ICE had an entire album of material, recorded on 2 inch tape that had languished for over 40+ years on a shelf somewhere. 

RidingEasy Records then converted the analog tape tracks to digital files, remixed them to preserve the original vocals and instrumentation. Packaging the material as The Ice Age, the material will see the light of day for the first time in 50 years. The album is 10 songs of hard-edged rock with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks that may remind some listeners of the Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, The Move and others. Now, as you amy recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s explosive first single “Run To Me,” which managed to bring Steppenwolf and The Guess Who to mind.  

The Ice Age’s second and latest single is album opener “Gypsy.” Centered around a chiming and glistening 12 string guitar line, copious amount of cowbell, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous yet melodic hook, “Gypsy” manages to sound as though it were indebted to The Byrds — but with a subtly gritty undertone. Throughout the song’s 2:50 or so run time, there’s this gnawing sense that in an alternate universe, that it would be a classic rock radio staple. But alas, fate works in its own way. 

New Audio: Chris Robinson-led Green Leaf Rustlers Release a Gorgeous Rolling Stones Cover

Marin County, California-based act Green Leaf Rustlers, comprised of Chris Robinson (a.k.a, the most soulful white guy on the face of the earth), Barry Sless, Greg Loiacono, Pete Sears, and John Moro have developed a reputation for being one of the area’s live music scene staples, for their re-imagining of classic, cosmic country and country rock — in particular the work of artists like Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, The Byrds and others. “Green Leaf Rustlers are a Marin County hippie hayride,” the band’s Chris Robinson says in press notes. “Rockin’ and rollin’ through our favorite classic cosmic country covers and keeping the good people dancing the night away under star-filled western skies.”

Although the band has seldom performed outside of Northern California, their debut album From Within Marin, which is slated for a March 6, 2020 release is a double LP live album, recorded by Grateful Dead archivist Betty Cantor Jackson at a handful of Green Leaf Rustler shows across Marin County last year. The album sees Robinson and company work there way through renditions of Gram Parsons’ “Big Mouth Blues,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High,” Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama” and the album’s second and latest single — a shimmering and twangier take on The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations” that’s expands upon the lonely honky tonk vibe of the original in a loving fashion. 

New Video: Visuals for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ “Searching for a New Day” Pay Tribute to the Late Soul Singer’s Life and Legacy

Throughout the course of this site’s almost eight year history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink covering the multitude of artists on Daptone Records, including JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley. As you may recall, Sharon Jones died in 2016 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer and Charles Bradley died last year after a two-year battle with stomach cancer, and for fans of Daptone Records, of soul music, hell of music generally, their deaths were a 1-2 punch.

Now, as it turned out Jones and her Dap Kings managed to spent the better part of Jones’ last few months writing and recording what turned out to be the band’s final, full-length album together Soul of a Woman. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ famed House of Soul Studios, the album, which was released almost a year to the day of Jones’ death, found the band and their beloved frontwoman pushing the limits of their songwriting while arguably being among the most direct, honest and sophisticated material they had ever written together. Soul of a Woman‘s first single “Matter of Time,” was a lush and moody meditation on the nature of time that brought to mind Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary cover of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The album’s second single, the Jones penned and arranged “Call on God” focused on how faith can sustain you and guide you in the most desperate and uneasy times of your life. “Sail On!,” Soul of a Woman’s third album featured one of the world’s best horn sections blowing the doors down while a confident and brassy Jones tells a story about how revenge, karma and schadenfreude in which the song’s narrator decides to help an old friend, who did her dirty.

“Searching for a New Day,” Soul of a Woman’s fourth and latest single may arguably be one of their most ambivalent, if not emotionally complex songs they’ve ever released. While musically, the song is an upbeat, two step — the sort that the Dap Kings always excelled at, Jones’ vocals expresses the aching longing, hurt, pride and resolve of a woman, who struggled spiritually, emotionally and financially but bravely with dignity and a sense of humor and cool defiance.

Directed by Mel Rodriguez III, the recently released video takes place in a local bar that’s hosting a listening party for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ Soul of a Woman, and as the  unseen DJ plays the album, in front a crowd of fans, friends and others, the bar shows footage of Sharon and her Dap Kings performing live.  And while clearly being nostalgic, bringing memories of a tremendous performer, who in her brief stint in the limelight left such an enduring presence, the video begins to tell a a story of a young woman, who becomes enthralled and inspired by Sharon, suggesting that the beloved soul artist’s work will inspire a new generation of performers. Oh and while we’re at it, representation fucking matters. And being a young black woman, seeing a strong, older black woman tearing a stage up with a mischievous and warm smile must be a powerful thing, indeed.

Throughout the past year, I’ve written a couple of posts featuring the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends can trace their origins to when its 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.” “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,” Way recalls. “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.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy Silverlake and Echo Park sections of town. “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,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare 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. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re 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.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “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.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, and as you know from a previous post, one of those cut singles was “TV Surprise,” a single that the band’s Way explains has been around for about a decade or so, and didn’t make the cut because lyrically, the band felt it was too abstract; however, the song manages to capture a band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.

Interestingly, Blurred Harmony‘s second bonus single “It’s Hard For Me To Say” was originally recorded in December 2015 for inclusion on You Are The Cosmos‘ 12 string guitar compilation, Twelve String Harmony and as the story goes, the band had the finished track sitting in the can for a while, when they began working on their latest album. And as they began work on the album, they felt that they could re-record the song in a way that would fit better with the overall feel of the album. As Way recalls “It ended up not making the final cut — who knows, maybe it’s because we were already too familiar with it, maybe the extra months of the song’s recorded existence made it feel less fresh to our ears. But we really love this version — the rhythm section is tighter and more driving, the tambourine and Conrad 12-string electric channels the Byrds through a warped sense, and the three years of acoustic guitar shimmering just right. Plus, Raymond added some gorgeous pedal steel, and our friend Michael Blake added a wall of mellotron and Wurlitzer.” Much like the previous bonus single, sonically speaking the song feels as though it was the best suited of the two to actually seamlessly fit on to the original album. And naturally, its inclusion as a bonus track on the expanded edition should be a reminder that song selection and as song sequencing for an album is frequently an inexact and uncertain art while revealing the various editorial decisions a band has to make upon completion of an album.

Much like the previously released singles I’ve written about, “It’s Hard For Me To Say” manages to balance earnest and personal lyrics with a deliberate attention to craftsmanship in a way that contemporary indie rock — or hell, contemporary music general doesn’t seem to have these days, and as a result, the song seems charmingly anachronistic.

New Video: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Release New Single from Posthumous Album/Dap Kings Pay a Moving Tribute to Sharon Jones

Throughout the course of this site’s almost eight year history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink writing about a great deal of the artists on Daptone Records, including JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley.  Now, as you may recall, we lost Sharon last year after her three-year battle with pancreatic cancer and earlier this year, we lost Charles after his two-year battle with stomach cancer. Naturally they’ve been sorely missed by everyone who’s known them or worked with them in any capacity, as well as to their legions of fans across the world, who they brought joy, wisdom, hope and love to every single night.

Interestingly enough, Jones and her Dap Kings managed to spent the better part of her last few months writing and recording what turned out to be the band’s final, full-length studio album together, Soul of a Woman last month, almost a year to the date of her death.  Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ famed, Bushwick, Brooklyn-based House of Soul Studios, and the album finds the band and their beloved frontwoman pushing the limits of their songwriting while being among the most direct, honest and sophisticated material they’ve written together.  In fact, Soul of a Woman’s first single “Matter of Time,” was a lush and moody meditation on the nature of time that brought to mind Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary cover of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,” while the album’s second single, the Jones’ penned “Call on God” focused on how faith can sustain you and guide you in the most desperate and uneasy times of your life while featuring some of her dearest and oldest friends adding backing vocals to the song — just how Sharon would have wanted it.

“Sail On!,” Soul of a Woman’s third and latest single, features the Dap Kings horn section, arguably one of the world’s best horn sections, blowing the doors down while a confident and brassy Sharon signs about a tale about the dangers of revenge — in terms of the song, it suggests that it winds up backfiring. So the song’s narrator suggests actually forgiving and even helping an old friend, who did her dirty; but underneath that theme of forgiveness is a very human and very honest bit of schadenfreude in which the song’s narrator kind of says “You’re coming back to me now? Serves your dumbass right,” before rolling her sleeves up to do the dirty work.

The recently released video was filmed at House of Soul during the recording sessions for the album and the song, capturing the band and Sharon at some of their most intimate moments.

Recently, the members of the Dap Kings were on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where they performed a medley of album singles “Sail On!” and “Searching for a New Day” to pay a profoundly moving tribute to their beloved leader, and to celebrate the official release of their final album together. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends 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.” “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,” Way recalls. “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.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy 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,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare 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. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re 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.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “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.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, including the band’s latest single “TV Surprise.” As Way explains in press notes “‘TV Surprise’ is a song that’s been around for probably 10 years at least, maybe one. It’s got a real Felt/The Feelies vibe to it that I really like — those are two bands that we were just starting to get into around the time I wrote the song, so it’s no surprise that was coming through. The abstract feel of the lyrics is the thing that ended up making it not a perfect fit for inclusion on the Blurred Harmony album sequence, but Danny (O’Hanlon, who mixed the record) did a really great job creatively mixing the song — he added a lot of the textures that make this recording of the song have such a cool atmosphere and mood.”Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though the band were drawing from Fleetwood Mac, Southern rock and psych rock, as the song possesses the easy-going, self-assuredness of a bunch of old pros getting the old band together and jamming and while it sounds as though it would have been a perfect fit for the album, I agree with Way in the sense that the song doesn’t feel as personal as previous single “Coming Down” — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the song captures the band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle, and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.

 

New Video: Daptone Records Posthumously Release a Mediative Gospel Song off Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ Last Album “Soul of a Woman”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its seven year history, you’ve come across a number of posts featuring Daptone Records recording artists and JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, and as you may recall, Sharon Jones died late last year after a three year battle with pancreatic cancer and Charles Bradley died earlier this year after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. 

As it turns out, Jones and her Dap Kings spent the better part of her last few months writing and recording what is now known as the band’s final, full-length studio album, Soul of a Woman, which is slated to be posthumously released on November 17, 2017 through Daptone Records. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ Bushwick, Brooklyn-based House of Soul Studios, the album finds the band and their beloved leader pushing the limits of their songwriting and sound to create what some have said may arguably be some for he band’s rawest and most sophisticated material they’ve ever written.  

Earlier this month, I wrote about Soul of a Woman’s first single “Matter of Time,” a lush and moody meditation and the nature of time that struck me as being inspired by Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary coverof Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as Jones and company seem to suggest that with everything there’s a season and a purpose; that the pursuit of peace, justice, freedom and equality are frequently part of a necessary, lifelong struggle; and that one day, that struggle will result in a peace, brotherhood, sisterhood and understanding for all. But perhaps, because we now know that Jones died  as the band was finishing the material on the album, the song manages to also possess the profound and sad wisdom of the dying — that ultimately, all things are fleeting and impermanent. 

The album’s second and latest single “Call on God” was originally written in the late 1970s for E.L. Fields’ Gospel Wonders, a choir she sang with throughout most of her life at the Universal Church of God, here in New York; but interestingly enough, Jones recorded with her Dap Kings during the 100 Days, 100 Nights sessions — and much like “Answer Me,” which made the album, Jones accompanied herself on piano with the band playing behind her, frequently providing specific instructions on how she wanted everything to sound. Though she always provided input on every song, Jones taking full charge was uncommon; however, the band found the experience to be so inspiring that they made a pact with Jones to record a gospel album with her taking the helm. As it turns out “Call on God” was set aside for that eventual gospel album but sadly, the song and the album was never completed. 

On December 18, 2016, E.L. Fields’ window, Pastor Margot Fields presided over Sharon Jones’ memorial service in Brooklyn, which was attended by several of the original members of the Gospel Wonders, who had come in from different parts of the country to celebrate Jones and her life. Together again for the first time in many years, they performed a moving tribute to Sharon as part of the service. As the story goes, Bosco Mann and the Dap Kings invited the Gospel Wonders, all who were longtime friends of Sharon’s back to the Daptone Records’ House of Soul Studios to finish “Call on God” with them. And at the studio, the members of the choir put on headphones and heard Sharon Jones’ voice signing the song she wrote for them almost 40 years earlier. Interestingly enough, Jones always wanted to add background vocals to the song and everyone knew that she would have been thrilled to know that some of her oldest and dearest friends had stopped by to sing with her one last time. 
As for the single, is a meditative and slow-burning song focusing on how faith can sustain you in the most desperate and uneasy times of your life — and although I’m an atheist, I can say that the God that Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley believed in, seems like the sort of God you’d want to worship and have in your corner. 

Featuring footage by Matt Rogers with additional camera work by Jessica Glass, the recently released video is a revealing and intimate look into the studio with Sharon Jones    playing piano and earnestly singing the song as the Dap Kings play with her.