Friday, July 8, 2011
Grace Basement on Eastern Watts Records
Eastern Watts Records who brought you the Brosby Kills and Kash single a while ago are back with a new 7" from Grace Basement. Kevin Buckley who runs the label is a big time vinyl aficionado and it makes sense the next step for an uberfan of the format would be to start your own label, Eastern Watts (*see sweaters and pearls). With a few releases so far under their belts in tiny runs of 150, this one happens to be of Kevin's own band, Grace Basement....which may or may not exist anymore?
The A-Side features, "Broke up Man", is right in line with the Flaming Lips or early Grandaddy, and possibly the name was foreshadowing things to come for fans. I like the whirr of the tape rolling into the groove to a big sampled mechanical beat against a thin sounding acoustic....two completely separate sounds in the way Beck used to folk freestyle. The guitars gradually get a little dirtier, with less of the polish, a piano hits the big chords along with an ever present organ underneath everything that started up even before the tape. The whole thing seriously produced like Rouge Wave or a smooth more rock oriented Shins, thanks to that heavy vocal layering. Surprising new sounds keep working their way in between verses, a thermin, bells, new synth...all the way to a huge horn section finish. The biggest theme song, borderline operatic finish, where they found a horn section of at least 6 is a feat itself.
The B-Side, "Lay on the Wheel, Sweet Sally" get real country, slide guitar, honkey tonk piano complete with a solid bassline. Neo-country folk along the lines of Blitzen Trapper, contemporary sounding in production, but with deep craft roots and a slight twist when compared note for note.
The 2nd track on this side, "I've got some good news!" is a heavy echo vocal over a buried deep acoustic...so loud it may as well be a capella, as close and heavy as a Stephin Merritt vocal that gives way to a huge chorus of voices in a brief chorus. Grace Basement seem to play with the expectation right before a huge sound, waiting to turn the track epic at any moment. This one is an almost quiet, whispered ballad until this choir comes in rolling the dice again.
I've got some good news! is delivered in a hushed, slow tone, the exact opposite of a celebratory title. Some good news isn't something to sing out loud to your neighbor, maybe it's some sort of frighteningly unbelieveable good fortune or it comes at the expense of everyone else.
All in all a mix of indie and alt-country, closest to a shit kicking Flaming Lips with all the experimentation of big sounds and weird references track to track. They go for the unusual, not content with just a traditional delivery.
Crazy pieced together David Hockney style cover of a million patchworked pictures of the beach from Eastern Watts, who must be running out of their run of 150 by now.