Monday, April 11, 2011
There are precious few no-bullshit performers out there, but David Bazan is one of 'em - in his lyrics, interviews, and between-song Q&A sessions you'll get nothing but the unvarnished truth from the guy, truths I just happen to mostly agree with. Reviewers who have been following him since his Pedro The Lion days like to focus on his longtime struggle with (and eventual shunning of) a religious upbringing, but his songs deal with so much more - personal and romantic relationships, fatherhood, the music industry, and more recently the (sorry) cultural and political state this country has found itself in.
The latter is the theme at the heart of his upcoming full-length, "Strange Negotations" (out May 24th on Barsuk). It's an intense record, one that grabbed me on first listen and hasn't let go in the week I've been lucky enough to have it. His previous album, 2009's confessional "Curse Your Branches", took awhile to sink in, but this one is urgent and immediate - on many of the tracks, his electric guitar is at the forefront, keys are used more sparingly, and the production is a bit more raw (drumstick clicks, mid-track coughs, and studio banter are purposefully left in). Unlike CYB, this one was recorded with his band, and I think it's all the better for it. The rock songs makes the softer ones stand out even stronger - it might be the most dynamic record he's ever put out. Not sure a Bazan-made album has hit me this hard since 2002's "Control", and that's saying a hell of a lot.
First shared on the pedrothelion.org forum, here's a look at the appropriately striking album art...
Worth owning on vinyl? Um, yeah, think so. Here's the tracklist...
David Bazan | Strange NegotiationsIf you squint at the fine print, you'll see tracks 6 and 7 ("Eating Paper" & "Messes") were co-written with Starflyer 59's Jason Martin. But enough about an album you won't be able to hear for another month and a half. Let's talk about the fact that Dave played a set in my freakin' livingroom just a week ago.
He's been doing house-show tours for awhile now, dates that usually sell out pretty quickly through word of mouth on his mailing list and forum. His in-progress road trip started out west near his Seattle home, headed East (stopping at my place in Allston), and he's currently on the southern stretch of the return trip before traveling back up the West Coast just as April ends.
I was wary of volunteering to host a house show of our own knowing we'd be cutting it very close to the requisite capacity of 50 people - but we took a shot and I'm so glad we did. The crowd of good friends and kind strangers couldn't have been more considerate and appreciative. Even without Dave's ultra-intimate performance, it would have been one great party - in fact, I wish I'd had more time to hang and chat with pals and unfamiliar faces.
I'm sharing just a few songs from his set, holding the new stuff until after the new record is released - I'm totally on board with Dave's belief that the album is best heard all at once and as a whole. He's consciously decided to shorten the window between LP completion, its announcement, and subsequent release - a practice that I'm glad is becoming more and more common. Doesn't mean you won't get something special below, though: An absolutely stunning cover of Gillian Welch's "April 14th, Part I"...
David Bazan | House Show SetlistAfter the album hits, David puts his band back together in June and does the country all over again for 6 summer weeks, including a stop at Cambridge's TT the Bears on 6/19. Tickets here, and you'd best jump on it. His shows are always well attended, but once the album arrives, a sell out shouldn't be far behind.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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