Tag: You Are The Cosmos

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Parson Red Heads Release a Poignant and Nostalgic Visual for “Falling Fading”

Portland, OR-based JOVM mainstays The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production) and the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) – released their fifth album Lifetime of Comedy late last year through Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe. The album finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing to be remodeled and remolded. And while remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Head album, Lifetime of Comedy’s material as the band’s Evan Way contends in press notes was among the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.

The members of the JOVM mainstays started recording Lifetime of Comedy early last year, and much like countless acts across our globe, they quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. Once studios could reopen safely, recording sessions continued at a snail’s pace for small, very intimate sessions.. And with much of the album’s material recorded in a decollate, touch-and-go fashion, Lifetime of Comedy seems imbued — and perhaps also informed by — a sense of perseverance and hope at all costs.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of the album’s released singles:

“All I Wanted,” a classic Parson Red Heads song that superficially sounded as though it could have been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions but with a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe that evoked the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness centered around incredibly earnest lyricism, born from lived-in experience.
“Turn Around” is a heartfelt deflation of devotion seemingly influenced by 80s and early 90s jangle pop that’s simple yet absolutely necessary. After all, sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”
“Coming Along,” song that manages to balance lush and anthemic instrumentation with the sort of introspective lyricism that can only come from a living a full and messy life. And as a result the song is an accumulation of weariness, regret, wisdom, resiliency and hope that seems to say “yes, life will break your heart sometimes but we find a way to love, to dream, to love — and that’s what makes life endurable.
“Fall and Be Found” an expansive bit of cosmic Americana that thematically, was centered around two very different yet related things: the recognition of the wonderful, deeply human and seemingly fleeting moments of our existence (i.e., birth, childhood, friendship, love and the like) and the hope that better days are just around the corner.

Lifetime of Comedy’s fifth and latest single “Falling Fading” was the last song that The Parson Red Heads’ frontman Evan Way wrote for the album — and the last song they tracked in the studio. Like its predecessors, it’s a shimmering bit of cosmic Americana, but more importantly, the song is heartfelt and intimate portrait of an emotionally closed-off man, who takes stock of himself, his actions and his relationships with regret and shame. The song is yet another example of what I personally love about the band: their ability to talk about the big things and big emotions simply and earnestly.

Filmed and edited by Jared Lichtenberg, the recently released video for “Falling Fading” was filmed while the band was recording the final take of the final song of the album. Naturally, the song captures the band’s friendship, their passion for music and the joy they feel when they’re making music together. Because it was filmed about a month before the pandemic reminded us that our world is uncertain and frightening, it’s a nostalgic look at a time that we all know wasn’t that far off but feels like a lifetime ago. While we hope that we can all spend time with each other again — and soon — the video is also a poignant reminder that ultimately, it’s the people of your life and the time you’ve spent with the that’s the most important.

Over the past three or four years or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of ink covering the Portland, OR-based JOVM mainstays The Parson Red Heads. The act — 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.” 

Now, as you may recall, 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. The end result turned out to be the band’s fifth album, Lifetime of Comedy.

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 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, like countless acts across the globe, 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. Two things, which we need so much more of in our bleak and uncertain age.

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles:

  • All I Wanted,” a classic Parson Red Heads song that superficially sounded as though it could have been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions but with a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe that evoked the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness centered around incredibly earnest lyricism, born from lived-in experience.
  • “Turn Around” is a heartfelt deflation of devotion seemingly influenced by 80s and early 90s jangle pop that’s simple yet absolutely necessary. After all, sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.” 

“Coming Along,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s third and latest single continues an incredible run of anthemic material centered around the sort of introspective songwriting that can only come from living a full and messy life. And as a result, there’s an accumulation of weariness and regret mixed with resiliency, wisdom and hope that feels intimately familiar and necessary. Personally, much of their material has felt as though it speaks to me about my life, and the things I know and have felt with the exact words I would have said if I could put it all on paper. But at its core, the song has a road trip playlist friendliness paired with a lush yet unfussy arrangement and production.

“’Coming Along’ resulted from countless rehearsals, just spending lots of time playing it through, finding the arrangement that felt right, where each little piece fit,” The Parson Red Heads’ Evan Way explains inn press notes. “It’s a really fun song, because over the course of its 5 minutes, it manages to feature each member of the band in really great ways: the engine of the song, Brette and Robbie holding down the driving underpinning that bookends the song; Jake’s beautiful and melodic electric guitar skipping over the top of the driving groove; Raymond’s counterpoint pedal steel swells and Farfisa instrumental breakdown; my gritty guitar solo that comes in towards the end before handing things back off to the power of the full band; and the signature lush vocal harmonies filling out the verses.”


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.”  

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.