I had a great post lined up in me about two alt country records released last year (Royal City’s retrospective and the newest Clem Snide album), but then I got sick and bedtied and THEN, when I was about as incapacitated as could be, Chris Bathgate and Prussia, two of my favorite artists from Michigan had to go and release new music! The nerve of them, when I’m feeling too feverish to appropriately write an entry about them. These’ll be quick, because I’m going to go guzzle nyquil after I finish.
“No Silver,” the first track we’ve gotten from Chris Bathgate’s soon-to-be-released Salt Year, reveals Bathgate to be an architect with a pyromaniacal streak. The latter tendency was always there- Bathgate composes his songs with the detail of thin-as-needle penmarks on grid paper. His past releases have rhythms that don’t appear on ground level until three quarters of the way through the song, when a snowy piano is beaten down by a ex-lover drum set. The precision and planning (You can just see these songs cascading across sheet paper. If not architecture grid paper, then, let’s lose the metaphor for a moment, Bathgate’s songs were made to dance on sheet paper) have never lead to a cold feeling, though. Bathgate’s songs emanate warmth. Which leads to the former tendency. While Bathgate has destroyed songs while the tape rolls so far, he has never uprooted a song with such a flickering inferno as he does on No Silver. At exactly one minute fourty four seconds into this recording, Bathgate stops for an undetectable moment before the a mandolin barges in and helps send the whole things to the heavens. That moments makes the song for me, but even lacking that it would be very compelling. This song, probably one of the most compositionally interesting Bathgate has ever written, has me thrilled for what the rest of the album holds. Chis himself explains the song over at My Old Kentucky Blog.
I’ve got a Bathgate interview from about 2 years ago that I’ve been sitting on. adding it to my new year’s resolution to get that up before the album is released.
Prussia finally went and did it. I’ve been waiting for them to shape up for years now, ever since I was punched in the gut with their sneering “I Misbehave” and waded through the alleys of their dark, slurry EP “Blessed Be, Yours Truly In Spirit & Soul.” But I never thought they would make anything as approachable or as fun as Four For Attention, their recently released EP. The band, which previous was just as prone to tying your shoes together while you told them “Detroit, eh? I hear that place is having some problems these days,” and then shove you into a pile of yet to be recycled pbr cans just as you started asking them about urban farming, is now welcoming you to the dancefloor. For real! I mean, sure it’s a dancefloor of the band’s own creation, some lights underneath, some cracked glass, and some plywood where their building skills peetered out, but the band sounds downright poppy on this album. What a wonderful turn of events. If I would’ve have previously called Prussia prodigal in all the best senses of that word, now I call them reformed and renewed with all the same connotations.
I’m pretty fever sick right now so sorry if this was a bit rough. Maybe I’ll give this a final polish in a few days.