All Around Records

Friday, January 21, 2022

 Game Dirt was my introduction to Chris Church, and a good one.  I like the quiet noise, the rawness, and the grit. Darling Please, his new one, is much the same. While I do hear Neil Young here, he has other influences we talked about. Church was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.  

Andrea Weiss: What is the history of this album?


Chris Church: I recorded the album in 2011 as a sort of tribute to my late, great brother Mike Church, my drummer for most of my music up to that point, who had recently passed. It was mostly done in my basement studio but finished in an actual studio. I was unhappy with the mix at the time, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I gave away a few CD copies after I’d printed up a small amount but didn’t have the heart to keep trying to push it. After failing to decide what to do to fix it, I just let it go. It pretty much just sat on the shelf for ten years. After considering whether to re-do the whole thing, take a song or two from it for other projects, or just leave it alone altogether, I decided to try and reclaim it last year. I was fortunate enough to have Lindsay Murray of Gretchen’s Wheel sing some added backing vocals, and with the added help of Nick Bertling remastering it, the album sounds and feels a lot better to me now. I asked Rex and Christina at Big Stir if they’d be interested in releasing it, and they agreed. I’m very happy to have this project out in the world.


AW: I know Neil Young is the primary influence here. Who are some others?


CC: I guess so. For this album, I remember being interested in combining the loud and raggedy guitar rock of what Neil and Crazy Horse do sometimes, and actually more directly, early Teenage Fanclub with the dreamy shoegaze noise of My Bloody Valentine to see what I could come up with. It sounds a million miles away, but there’s still some guts to it. I wanted to try to make it sound somehow simultaneously big, and yet intimate enough to put the messages of the songs across. The remastering helped reclaim a lot of the sonic aspects of what I was going for. As I told Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko of Big Stir regarding one of the songs, I had an all encompassing desire to create something where ”…the hugeness is empty, and vice versa.”


AW: What would you say you took from Neil?


CC: Not really sure about that. I love him, and I take it as a big compliment to be compared to Neil Young, but I don’t want to say he’s my biggest influence on this or any album I’ve made. Maybe I end up sounding a little like him when I’m channeling Teenage Fanclub? You decide, I’m just me.


AW: What did everyone who helped make it bring to the album?


CC: Lindsay Murray’s lovely backing vocals and Nick Bertling’s great mastering job, both done in 2021 – ten years after I recorded the album - are the only aspects of the recording that weren’t done by me, other than the small amount of production and engineering that was done by the people at the other studio towards the end of the original project. No need to credit or discredit there. So yeah, there’s pretty much ultimately no one to blame but me for this.


AW: What would you like to tell us about the lyrics?


CC: I’m not really going to explain what I write. In this case in particular, it’s a lot to unpack. I was at a raw point emotionally, and then when the sonic plot got lost and the mix disappointed me, I pretty much closed the door on this chapter of my musical life for awhile. I don’t ever really know, but I would like to think that people would pay attention to the lyrics, because I certainly do when I write them. Though most of my lyrics tend to playfully obfuscate, there are actually a few songs on Darling Please that aren’t that hard to figure out.


AW: Will you be touring for this album?


CC: I don’t have any plans to tour.


AW: If you could go back 11 years to when this album was first made, what would you say to everyone that you’ve learned about it since?


CC: If you have a vision and you’re going to do something artistic yourself, do the whole thing. Finish it completely, and don’t let anything anyone says take you off your path. In my humble opinion, one of the biggest rewards an artist can have is knowing you did it your own way.

 Darling Please

Chris Church

Big Stir Records

Neil Young’s music has been put into a college rock context many times, but as far as I know, not power pop, much less combining the two. That is one of the great things about Chris Church’s new album.

Recorded 11 years ago, and out in a newly remastered version by producer Nick Bertling, the quiet noise of this album shines through every time Church pays his guitar or sings about life and love. There is a lot of grit, but Neil Young is known for that. Church should be too. 

Darling Please is every bit as good as Youngs’s latest, Barn, a record also worth picking up. Play the two back to back and realize that Church and Young could be equals, even as their music is in different contexts.  But good ones, and I would say to start with Church, and then play Neil. 

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, December 30, 2021

 Jim Basnight has been around for a long time, and has always made music I really like, these three new singles – "Genius of Love," "Ugly Side," and "Lose Me" – being the latest. If you’re new to him, start here. You will have a good time listening.

Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: Tell us more about Seattle-NY-LA, which features these songs?

Jim Basnight: It's the best recordings and songs by the band known as Jim Basnight and the Moberlys or the Moberlys, which featured the late Dave Drewry on drums. It was the version of the band, after the original band, but it lasted much longer. Dave and I started playing together in 1981 and parted ways in 1989. The other players were mainly Glenn Oyabe on guitar and harmony vocals and Toby Keil on bass and harmonies, but there were others. The late Ben Rabinowitz played lead guitar on “I Need Your Love" and “I Wanna Be Yours." Roger Burg played keyboards on “Your Fool" and keyboards and backing vocals on “Genius of Love.” Jeremy Bar-illan played guitar and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Roger Moutenot played organ on “You Came and You Conquered." Harlan Hollander sang backups on “Summertime Again." Al Bloch played bass and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Jay Work played saxes on “Ain't It Funny." The album was produced by a variety of producers, including Peter Buck of REM, Moutenot, Hollander, Dave Ogilvie, Lindsay Kidd, J.B. Bauerlien, Ron Woods, Ian Gardiner, Edwin DeShazo and Dean Chamberlain. It was recorded in LA mostly, but “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True" were recorded in NY. The band was based in NY from 1980 to 1984, but those were the only tracks which made this collection. The band was based in Seattle from 1984-85, but all of the tracks included here were recorded in Vancouver, BC. Those tracks included, “I Wanna Be Yours," "I Love You So," "Alone with Her," and “I Need Your Love." To summarize, the band lived in three places, which all made important impressions on the music. Some might say that our sound had a common thread, but our environment influenced the sound to me. We were all Seattle guys, so that influence of bands like the Sonics, the Raiders, the Heats, and the Modernettes followed us. So did NYC influences such as Lou Reed, the Heartbreakers, Blondie, the Dolls, the Shangri-Las, and the Ramones. LA brought its influences too, such as the Plimsouls and the classic LA power pop sound of the late 70's, and more twangy guitar acts such as the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. In general, the band had it all, but also had a common thread of  a certain recognizable strain of two guitars and harmonies Beatles/Stones, but definitely on the pure pop side of all of the above.

AW: These songs have a mid 60s British Invasion feel to them, which I like, and they also sound 70s punk. Which of these styles is a greater inspiration for you, or are you after an equally melded sound?

JB: I'd say they're equal. Definitely not 90s or, for the most part, 80s, unless you want to include some of the bands I've already mentioned, or others such as The Hoodoo Gurus and the Replacements. The big musical movements which influenced me in life were:

The golden age of rock and roll, especially Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. The folk era of Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger. The British Invasion, especially the Kinks, but also the Who, the Small Faces, and a number of others, including those I've already mentioned. The garage acts of the 60s, especially the NW acts, but also the Standells and the type of acts spotlighted by Lenny Kaye's Nuggets album. The psychedelic era, notably Hendrix, the Airplane, and others I've mentioned. 60s pop, such as the Buckinghams, the Grass Roots, The Classics IV and others I've mentioned.Glam rock, such as T-Rex, Bowie, Mott, and others I've mentioned. Early Power Pop, such as Badfinger, Flaming Groovies, and the Raspberries. Punk Rock, the 1977-78 edition, such as Generation X, the Dead Boys, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and others I've mentioned. Finally the late 70s and early 80s NW sound and LA sound of the Cowboys, the Last, and other bands I've mentioned.

The psychedelic and folk stuff didn't play into our sound much, despite the way it influenced my writing. Most of the tunes from that vein which surfaced were not what Dave was into, so I did them solo, or occasionally as a duo with Glenn.

AW: All are about love gone wrong. Is that an easy topic to write about?

JB: If you're talking about the latest set of tunes I've sent out as recommended airplay tracks, basically a second EP of tunes from the album after the first I sent out ("Summertime Again," "Tonight," "Rest Up," and "She Don't Rock"), two of them arguably are about love gone wrong. Those are "Genius of Love" and "Ugly Side." "Lose Me" is a very positive love song about how full and rich one feels to be in the arms of the one they love. "Genius" is about losing, by being tricked into believing there was reciprocal love, but who cares because the ride was so darn fun. "Ugly Side" is dark, but uplifting in the sense that it's an admission to oneself that mere lust is not good enough and that is not a choice, though I've been there, that I am looking to make. I think there are a lot of songs which could be interpreted as love gone wrong on this album (though there are a few which are just plain fun and others like "Lose Me," such as "What I Wouldn't Do" which are clearly songs about romantic fulfillment), but I see the hopefulness behind the feelings of loss or disappointment. I think the band's sound and mood are one of eternal hope and optimism in the search for love and the respect for love, despite the obstacles.

AW: Where can Seattle-NY-LA be found?

JB: It's available to stream or download nearly everywhere you can do that. The place to go for the best price is here, where it was first released in early 2021:

It hasn't been made available on CD or LP yet. That may happen in the near future, as might also the Makin' Bacon album I released later in 2021.

 Jim Basnight

Genius of Love

Ugly Side

Lose Me

PowerPopholic Records

These three new singles are nicely punky, in a very 70s sort of way, but are also 70s style melodic pop. They are all about the ups and downs of relationships. All three are very appealing, as they are clear and direct, fun, but meaningful, simple, but not simplistic.

If you’ve never gotten into Jim Basnight’s work before, this is a great place to start. This is rock the way it isn’t made anymore. I say that not as an old fogey. it’s just that I want to hear as much of this type of rock as possible, bring it back to prominence, and, as I say, here is a good place to start.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

 I first heard The Big Believe on a song called “Let's Pretend We’re Spies,” with guest vocals by Let’s Active’s Faye Hunter. That song was great, as is everything I’ve heard since from The Big Believe. After some time off, they’ve returned with three singles, "Doing My Utmost," "Hundreds," and "Girl On Wire." We discuss them below, as Amanda Louise Thompson, band leader, was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Andrea Weiss: How did Daniel Wylie of Cosmic Rough Riders come to co-write “Doing My Utmost?” 

Amanda Louise Thompson: We had been communicating online for years, like - over a decade.  I've been a fan of CRR since about 2001.  At some point I shared my own albums with him and he loved the songs.  I remember we did a swap once:  His solo record Fake Your Own Death for my band's (Ozone Baby at the time) debut Love Like A Foghorn.  In fact, those two titles might just sum us both up, respectively!  So it was during Covid lockdowns that I asked if he fancied writing together and he kinda said he'd been waiting for me to ask.  We couldn't be further apart geographically in the UK.  He's right at the top of the country and I'm right down the bottom.  So given it was all done remotely, it couldn't have been easier.  I'd send a chorus, he'd send a verse, I'd send a verse, he'd send a chorus.  All in voice recorders on our phones, and they always blended together perfectly without trouble.  He's a really nice guy, too.

AW: How did “Girl On Wire “ get released through Aldora Britain?

ALT: Ooh how weird - I can't remember how I first came to Aldora Britain Records, or even whether they came to me or the other way around... but it happened, and that was another easy thing.  Tom Hilton, who does all the work there, releases tons of independent music and really supports it.  It's all digital.  AB released my track "Frequencies" back in March 2021, which had good response so I offered up "Girl on Wire" before I'd even finished recording it, so that something new was out with them before Xmas and to give myself a deadline, stop me fussing about with it too much.

AW: “Girl On Wire” sounds feminist, which is great. Is that the case?

ALT: If it is, it's taken me 51 years to have my first feminist thought.  But in a way, yes.  It's a collection of different tricky situations for women, all wrapped up in one fictional protagonist.  People, friends were telling me things, for example a friend was hiding her sexuality for personal reasons,  someone else had a kid who was getting into all sorts of scrapes due to social media pressures.  Stuff to do with appearance and judgments.  I also added my own situation of societal attitudes to women who've chosen not to have children, then threw in a few lines about prostitution too.

AW: I hear the New Pornographers and Let's Active in the sound of these songs. Were they influences here?

ALT: I suppose those two bands must be in there to some extent, as it's no secret I love them the most!  However, I personally don't notice being influenced by them, maybe I am.  There would be no point in trying to sound like your favourite bands.  A lesser version of them?  That's daft.  Like "Owl City" and "Postal Service" (I love "Postal Service").  Yet after the event, listening back to a finished song, sometimes there are little sections where I notice and think "actually that is not unlike something The New Porns might do."  Mainly, though, I reckon we all make the music we want to hear, and please ourselves first, so it's always gonna be in the same genre as the music I like best.

AW: Will these songs be on an upcoming album?

ALT: Yes, they will both be on our third album, which should be out in the summer of 2022.

 The Big Believe

Doing My Utmost/Hundreds/Girl On Wire

Self-Released/Aldora Britain Records

These three new singles from The Big Believe, which will be on a upcoming album, are three good ones to add to the already fine BB discography. More good indie pop about relationships, including, on “Doing My Utmost,” to oneself. That song was co-written with Daniel Wylie of Cosmic Rough Riders, a fine band in their own right.

The Big Believe, for those who don’t know, is a UK band headed up by Amanda Louise Thompson. They’ve been around for a while, and their earlier albums, Illuminate and Juggernaut, are worth checking out, especially if you like the three singles, which are well worth the money.

Andrea Weiss

Monday, December 13, 2021

 I’ve been a Bye Bye Blackbirds fan for a number of years, particularly their last album, 2019’s Boxer At Rest. Now they're back with a very fine new single and video, "We Got Lost."

Bradley Skaught, the leader of the band, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: How did you come to write a song with Matt Piucci?

Bradley Skaught: I had been noodling around with the verse melody for a bit and was feeling like I didn't have any ideas for how to develop it. It occurred to me that I should get someone else involved and that Matt was the one! Something about that verse melody and drone-y, winding guitar stuff in D just felt like something he could work with. It felt Rain Parade-y to me in some way, whether anyone else would've thought so...

AW: How did Doug Gillard come to be involved?

BS: Doug produced our last record, and he's one of those guys who just always knows what a song needs to elevate it, even in a support role. If you've heard any of the recent Guided By Voices records, you've likely noticed a ton of great little orchestral parts and arrangement details aside from just his guitar playing. "We Got Lost" is such a simple song (structurally speaking) that I felt like it needed something to give it more dynamic shape -- he came back pretty quick with that cool keyboard string stuff.

AW: Where did you get the footage for the video?

BS: The video is entirely the creation of the director, so to get to your next question...

AW: Who directed the video?

BS: Marry Waterson made the video for us! She's a fantastic artist in a whole bunch of ways -- visual artist, video artist, fantastic singer and songwriter, etc. I'd been following her for a while because I love the music of her whole extended family, but when I started seeing all these cool video projects from her, too, I wanted to have her do some stuff for us. She did a couple things for our last record, but this one is a little more involved and fleshed out than those. I don't know exactly where all the footage comes from, but she mixes treated film/existing footage with animation and other processes in such a cool and unique way.

AW: Is there a new album in the works?

BS: There is! It's done! Hopefully early next year we'll get it out.


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