the Parson Red Heads
While working on their third album, Orb Weaver, The Parson Red Heads weren't interested in taking their time. In fact, they were dead set against it. Having released a painstakingly hand-crafted LP in 2011's Yearling, the band had established a mode of meticulousness. On Orb Weaver, the focus on recreating the improvisational bombast of their live show was stage center, resulting in flashes of sun-stroked auditory maelstroms and expansive blotter-pop americana previously missing from the band's recordings.
Over a nine-year career that's seen the band form in Oregon, then move to Los Angeles for nearly six years—where they were influential in a burgeoning music Silver Lake scene still seduced by the specters of Love and Buffalo Springfield—the now Portland-based Parsons have established a well-deserved reputation as an uninhibited live group.
As vocalist/guitarist Evan Way explains, Orb Weaver was all about bottling that energy into one explosively off-the-cuff record.
"We've always made records that were more thought-out," says Way. "When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side."
Producer Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) was all-too-happy to steer the ship when it came to capturing the album's spontaneity.
"The band had a vision for the record before we started," says McCaughey. "A few songs took some exciting and possibly unplanned turns, but it all fit into the whole that we'd imagined."
"[Scott] was great about being very vocal and honest, saying, 'Don't ditch that, it has character and that makes it way cooler,'" adds Way.
The song "Lost Again" was originally a demo Way had discarded for contention to make the album. McCaughey, struck by the tune, suggested a different angle and encouraged the group to record it right away with a new and still very foreign arrangement. With Brette Marie Way—Evan's wife and The Parsons' vocalist/drummer—providing typically dynamic harmonies, the result speaks volumes of the immediacy of Orb Weaver. It's a gorgeously sprawling composition, replete with reverbed guitar squalls and a saccharine-sweet melody that's belied only by its sly psych fringes.
"Borrow Your Car," a breakneck power-pop scorcher penned and sung by guitarist Sam Fowles, ushers in the kind of fiery tune expected from The Parsons' live show, Fowles and bassist Charlie Hester forming interlocking melodic runs that strike out toward Nick Lowe terrain. Interestingly, McCaughey and The Parsons' only other collaboration before Orb Weaver was recording Lowe's "Don't Lose your Grip on Love" for Lowe Country, a compilation of country-tinged Lowe covers released on Fiesta Red Records.
"Times" begins with all the minimalist groove of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," opening up only after Way croons, "I try to turn my back on you/but I forget to tell my heart," then moves into their oft-cited harmonic telepathy with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Despite the modest homage to their influences, The Parson Red Heads are a band forging their own musical identity with each new album.
"More and more of the personality of the band itself has come together because we're comfortable," explains Way. "Everybody is settling into their roles; it's a natural result of playing a ton together."
Mimicking Birds play lachrymose songs that synchronously evoke warm-heartedness and an overall compassion for life without coming off dilettante or sending you an invitation to a pity party… Think ethereal melodies by way of cosmic psych-folk, with themes continuously based in universal logic, evolutionary concepts, and the infiniteness among the ephemeral.
Mimicking Birds began as the solo project of Portland native Nate Lacy. Nate is joined by Aaron Hanson on drums, Ian Luxton on guitar, Adam Trachsel on bass, and Matthan Minster on keyboards and electric guitar with all members sharing vocal duties. Mimicking Birds' self-titled album was released in March of 2009 on Isaac Brock's home studio and was produced by Clay Jones and Isaac Brock.
A constant creator whether wielding pencils, paint, found items, or a guitar Nate Lacy grew up with an ardent interest in creating various facets of art to reflect life and the natural world. Throughout his adolescence he began to expand upon this curiosity aurally and documented it through a number of self-produced and seldom heard bedroom demos. A close friend enamored by the sounds, began sending these songs (unbeknownst to Lacy) to Isaac Brock who was a great source of inspiration to them both growing up. Brock soon contacted Lacy about releasing a record. Shortly after, the self-titled album was released, in what reads as somewhat of a rock fairy tale, Mimicking Birds would then make their national debut on tour with Modest Mouse.
Since then, Mimicking Birds has continued to tour the US in a brave Subaru Outback playing festivals and touring with acts such as Blind Pilot, Deertick, Laura Veirs, Jenny Lewis and sharing stages with Fleet Foxes, Menomena, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Conor Oberst. Mimicking Birds experiments with improvisation and dynamics while rotating personnel in a quest for a living soundscape.
For five years, Big Tree wandered back and forth across the country, building homes on both East and West Coasts while spreading music to everyone in between. In January of 2012, Big Tree ended up in Berkeley, CA and hasn't left since, quickly becoming a staple of the blossoming Bay Area music scene.
Big Tree's music has spanned two full length records, two EP’s, and their latest self-release, My, How You’ve Grown, provides a snapshot of the band moving into the next stage of their evolution. Kaila McIntyre-Bader (vox, keys), Anna Ghezzi (vox, percussion), Luke Bace (bass, vox), Dan Pirello (guitar), and Matt Schory (drums) create songs that have been called "anthemic," "luscious," and "stunning," and tap into organic folk, greasy blues, and ambient indie rock. After 5 years of near constant performing, Big Tree's live show stands alone in it's own right, taking the audience on a journey that starts with the bopping of heads and the tugging of heart-strings and often ends with a sweaty dance party and raucous sing-alongs.
My, How We’ve Grown will be released September 17th, 2013, with West and East Coast tour dates to follow including a performance at the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.
...a barefoot walk on warm soil where so many others are trips to IKEA. If there is one argument against the over-tinkered immaculacy that pervades so much pop music, Little EP is it.”
-The Deli SF /11.06.2012
The instrumentals are like one collective gust of wind rushing in to sweep you off your feet and twirl you around in the whirlwind that is Big Tree’s luscious indie rock groove. There’s something stunning about Big Tree’s style; it’s organic yet classic, but slightly stripped down just enough so each element shines through.”
– Indie Shuffle /11.07.2012