Saturday, May 01, 2010

Song Sparrow Research: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

You might recall the 50th episode of Well-Rounded Radio with Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics where I talked about the origins of Well-Rounded Radio. My friend, Marion Seymour, who played a big part in the story, has two sons. Her oldest, Harrison Boyce, is a terrific designer and you can see his work at harrisonboyce.com. Harrison also created the current Well-Rounded Radio site (in Movable Type).

Marion's younger son, Hamilton Boyce, is a musician who Marion has been telling me about over the years, from going to the Garfield High School in Seattle and playing jazz to his first band, Grotto Fork, to the recording of Song Sparrow Research's first EP, The New Ragtime Revolution.

Last fall, I downloaded Song Sparrow Research's first full album, Welcome to the Potato Famine, from Bandcamp and was, to put it plainly, blown away.

Where The New Ragtime Revolution showed the band was finding its own sound, Welcome to the Potato Famine is the sound of a band becoming quite confident. It’s a sonic adventure that demonstrates both intensity and restraint. Some of the band’s songs are 6, 7, or 9 minutes long and have the effect of both exhilarating you and leaving you spent at the end.

Song Sparrow Research’s line-up for both recordings was David Balatero on bass and cello, Hamilton Boyce on guitar and vocals, and Nash Turley on drums and harmonica.

With the album recorded at the Caldwell Sculpture Studio in Seattle in the middle of winter and vocals in a studio, the album has a big, epic sound, but also a level of intimacy through the vocals.

Song Sparrow Research has been compared to a variety of artists, including Neil Young and Jeff Buckley, but I also hear hints of Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, jazz, improvisation, noise, and metal in the songs, too.

You can see some videos on their YouTube channel, including clips from live shows and music videos. Follow them on Twitter and become fan on Myspace.

You can still download Welcome to the Potato Famine at Bandcamp. Personally, I think $9.99 is an excellent price. Or, go cheap and buy at Amie Street and help drive them up the charts.

Song Sparrow Research is working on their second album now in Seattle, with an expanded line-up that includes more strings and stand up bass.

I sat down with Balatero and Boyce in December in Seattle to discuss:
* how the band recorded and produced their debut album in a giant metal working warehouse
* who some of their favorite artists are that also influence their work
* how are looking to make a living in this brave new world of music 2.0

Photo credit: Ethan Welty

Songs included in the episode include:
1) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine) (in preview)
2) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
3) Garfield High School Jazz Band
4) Grotto Fork: Not Guilty (Ungulate)
5) Grotto Fork: ADAT (Ungulate)
6) Song Sparrow Research: Dry Sun (The New Ragtime Revolution)
7) Song Sparrow Research: Short Sighted (The New Ragtime Revolution)
8) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
9) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (unreleased demo)
10) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
11) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
12) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
13) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
14) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
15) The Raggedy Anns: Standing in the Rain
16) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
17) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
18) Song Sparrow Research: Experiments in Feedback Control (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
19) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
20) Song Sparrow Research: Green to the Ground (The New Ragtime Revolution)
21) Song Sparrow Research: Another Day/Gooseneck (The New Ragtime Revolution)
22) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
23) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
24) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
25) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
26) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)

28 comments:

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