I’m not sure it will be a weekly thing but I’ve decided to start putting pen to paper about all the things that pop in my head throughout a given week that maybe aren’t fleshed out enough for a full article but that I believe are worth mentioning. I’ll throw out upcoming shows or give head’s up on new album releases or just random musings from the Cathedral.
Here we go….
Fake Believe – All This Waiting
David Elbert, also of the Glass and the Apple Scruffs, heads up Fake Believe and released their new record, All This Waiting, a few months back. This record has been in regular rotation since then and it has only provided increasing levels of depth and appreciation with every spin. The rhythm section provides a spacious backdrop for David’s melodic but biting guitar and vocals he conjures from the depths of all the joy and pain, ambition and self-doubt life can bring. The album hits its stride early as “Kind Mathematics” is one of the most ambitious tracks by anyone I’ve heard in ages. “Molly”, “Let’s Get Married”, “A Million Reason” all immediately stood out to me but make no mistake, there is no fat to be trimmed here. The album is a complete statement, a tightly woven declaration of faith, love, doubt, pain, and resolute defiance in the face of anything that would discourage or injure.
It’s an odd feeling to have such an intimate connection with music made by a guy who I sat next to for so many years trying to get the intro to “Wanted Dead or Alive” just right. David and his brothers-in-arms crafted an album that speaks to my core…not just as a musician and songwriter but as a man in the world. This is particularly true given the last couple of years of our lives.
Fake Believe takes the stage alongside Mockingbird Brother at the Spruce Goose: Social Flyers Club on May 24th as part of a bill that will see Mangata headline the evening. This is a definite must-see show. Keep tuned as David and I are hoping to nail down an opportunity to discuss All This Waiting in-depth for a piece here at Cathedral Records.
Mother Mother – The Sticks
Anyone who follows Cathedral Records on Facebook knows that I tend to get a little obsessed and hyper-focused on things from time to time. This was the case when a dear friend turned me on to The Sticks, a 2012 record by Canadian rock band Mother Mother. For some reason this album and band have been flying under my radar but I’m grateful this tragic oversight has been rectified. I’ve been consumed by every facet of this record for months. I keep diving back in to swim in its layered arrangements with all its clicks and static, lockstep drums and bass, gloriously fuzzy guitars, and of course those other-worldly vocal arrangements that seem to be both ethereally angelic and frantically wicked all within the same song.
Mother Mother has built quite the labyrinth with this album and I still haven’t even begun to find my way through. After just the first spin, it became one of “those” albums that I’ll carry with me forever. It’s a desert island album for sure.
Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John
She probably doesn’t know this, but in another dimension, Juliana Hatfield and I are pals. Not in the sense that I can call her “Juliana” or like we sit around trading licks on a beat up six but rather in the sense that I carry her guitar case for her while giving her awkward compliments. I’m the kind of pal that trips over microphone stands walking backwards on my way to get a cup of coffee that she didn’t really ask for but that I hope with all my heart that she will accept from my unworthy and trembling hands.
I discovered her in 1994, once again, thanks to a dear friend’s mix tape. The first song I heard was “Spin the Bottle”. I was smitten from the first chord and in love at “It’s my turn in a minute, going to put my message in it…fiiiive minutes….”
My mix tape led me from that song to “Feelin’ Massachusetts” and that’s when I decided that I wanted to be Juliana Hatfield…..or at least try to write songs that could one day aspire to be left on her cutting room floor. I’ve followed her career ever since with great joy.
Fast forward to a few months back and she’s talking about a record of Olivia Newton-John songs. My interested was more than a little piqued because coming from Hatfield I knew this would not be one of those “ironic” cover albums. (Man I really hope we’re beyond that trend at this point) The album dropped in April and has been just about the only thing I’ve listened to since.
Olivia Newton-John is easily tossed in the bin of late seventies-early eighties MOR or soft pop but we should resist that temptation to dismiss her catalog as so much schlock.
The songs themselves, their lyrics, and certainly Newton-John’s delivery belie the period’s over-produced and dated sonic-palate.
Enter Juliana Hatfield.
Working almost entirely within the structure of a lean three-piece, she performs these songs with a tender and stark honesty. She is a fan paying tribute but also providing the songs with an opportunity to live and breathe again.
Stripped of their 70s strings and keyboard swells, the lyrics and vocal melody become the centerpiece. This is essential listening for fans of Hatfield or of Newton-John but more so for everyone that may have ignored Olivia Newton-John’s body of work.
MIEARS has been busy!
She released Who Will Save You dropped just last year and what has followed is nothing less than a whirlwind of incredibly positive press and touring. She’s even found time to set aside her trusty key-tar for acoustic shows Canned Acoustica in Discovery Green. While it seems this was just a brief return to the world of analog, we’ll hold onto hope that MIEARS will swing back by because she is as creative and unique with that flute and toy piano as she is with her synths and DAW. While we we wait, Canned Acoustica continues their series on June 10th. You’ll want to get there for that as they bring Houston’s greatest funk band Tightn’ Up! to the stage as part of another strong lineup.
Because she still has so much free time, she’s currently working on new music. Check out her Instagram as she posts regular updates and photos from her ongoing performances. It’s particularly exciting as she brings everyone into the studio to hear brief clips of her works in progress. MIEARS continues to be one of Houston’s most interesting and compelling songwriters and if you haven’t listened to her you need to….and you need to make everyone else listen as well. Every day she writes another page in a how-to guide for any aspiring songwriter…and particularly for any young lady who is looking around for reassurance that this whole music thing is not only possible but that her participation is essential to music’s integrity and beauty.
That’s it for this Monday. Have a good week.
Be Well and Kind,