Tuesday, March 6th, 2007
Searchin' For A Truer Sound
Much hubub was made when Jay Farrar revived Son Volt two years ago with a whole new lineup and the ensuing album, Okemah And The Melody Of Riot, sounded like a guitar-rocking statement of defiance from Farrar and crew to those who had written him off as having lost his sense of adventure and being too comfortable in the folksinger mode of his last couple solo records. And while Okemah did rock like he hadn’t in some years and was a solid offering, it was also a bit one-dimensional in sound and production – no doubt a consequence of the band having come together just before heading into the studio and thus missing out on the chemistry that can only be earned through time and touring.
But two years on with the release of The Search today, it seems that’s no longer an issue. Note that my impressions are based on just a single listen to the album stream below but also a more than passing familiarity with Farrar’s whole career. It sounds like they’ve reined in the rock a bit and the addition of Derry deBorja on keyboards is a solid one, giving the proceedings a more expansive and textured sound that the songs wear very well and overall, it’s a much more dynamic record. Attempting further discourse without spending a lot more time with the album would be pointless, so I’ll simply say that it sounds pretty good to me.
St Louis Today and CTNow.com talk to Farrar about the new record and NPR has a live show from Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago available to stream. The band kicks off a North American tour at the end of this month that includes an April 12 stop at the Mod Club in Toronto with solo Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell as support. They’re also one of two bands confirmed for Lollapalooza this August, along with Pearl Jam. C’mon, Son Volt AND Pearl Jam? Time to buy those plane tickets to Chicago.
And speaking of Mr Isbell, I can’t find any recent news on what’s happening with his long-completed solo record, though the fact that he’s touring on his own could be a good sign on that front. Interestingly, his primary MySpace seems like a typical personal page, but this bare-bones one has three songs streaming on it, and nothing else.
And even though Uncle Tupelo called it quits fourteen years ago, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy’s careers continue to exhibit interesting bits of synchronicity – as Son Volt release their new album, Wilco unveiled their new album Sky Blue Sky via an overnight stream on Saturday night. I gave it a couple listens (though not my undivided attention) and it sounds very laid back and pretty. Can’t wait for May 15, but until then, the band has made one of the tracks available to download – the song they debuted in Toronto last July. It was called “There’s A Light” back then, and you can compare it with the final version below.
The National have announced a full North American tour in support of Boxer, out May 22. As far as Toronto goes, they’ll be at the Opera House on June 5. I’m tired of complaining about the venue so I’m just going to be really really excited about the show instead.
CokeMachineGlow has an interview with Okkervil River’s Will Sheff wherein they dig up some of his old music journalism for AudioGalaxy and ask him about it. It’s fun watching Sheff’s answers get briefer and more terse as it goes on.
My Old Kentucky Blog has got some new Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s songs that you can expect to hear on their new album, out later this year, or at SxSW next week – perhaps at Hot Freaks where they’ll be playing Club DeVille at 4:30 on Saturday.