Really nothing pressing here, just pointing, mockingly, to Kev & Charles in Spin, sharing their brief old-man reminiscences of the first time they heard Nirvana's Nevermind, which came out 20 years ago now. Which is pretty bonkers. Almost as bonkers as us in Spin.
Picture two old Muppets in the balcony grousing about "how it used to be", that sort of thing. They’re in pretty diverse & cool & frankly, un-wren-like company in the article (Ray Davies, John Waters, Flaming Lips, Deer Tick, some Sub Pop & Nirvana folks etc.) and some of what they share is even true. You can read it, here courtesy the nice folk at Spin…
Directly from our Betterlatethannever Dept., which is to say, directly from our Everythingwedo Dept., here’s a link to a piece we wrote that recently ran in MAGNET extolling the virtues of a song by Steve Koester (now Two Dark Birds) and a band you never heard of unless you grew up in the same 1980s south Jersey we did, the Magnets.
Advisory notice: with our recording in a slow-motion death-throes finish that makes Rasputin look like a pushover, and with our now-standard real-life & family shenanigans, there wasn’t a whole lot of time put into this. That would normally mean brevity. In our case it means unedited excess (sort of like the state of the current album).
So wrote one article – the Koester one – got bogged down and so whipped out another one, the Magnets one. Lost our way in the woods on that too. So gave up & handed both in and MAGNET was kind enough to mush them together into one Ramblin’ Man of an article, complete with Dickey Betts solo. So that’s a long way of saying it's a tad on the long side.
Charles will be playing a little differently solo (than the usual loop-happy set, hidden behind a veil of electronics and studio trickery), as part of the wonderful Jennifer O’Connor’s new monthly “Tower of Song” series at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn on Tues. Feb. 8th. Also on this one are the equally estimable Richard Baluyut (of Versus) and Kendall Meade (of Mascott).
It’s sort of a round-robin affair with all four onstage, each playing their songs in a row, maybe talking a bit about them etc…
Then there’s a homework assignment for each performer to write a new song based on a theme (this Tower of Song’s theme is an anti-Valentine’s Day or anti-love song, mostly due the early Feb. show date).
Additionally, each will be covering one of the other’s songs.
Yikes, Charles will probably be closer to a Tower of Unpreparedness and copying of the paper of the singer next to him.
Charles (with a probable Greg, and a possible Kevin) will be playing a solo show on Sunday, January 23rd (w/ old pals Cymbals Eat Guitars and Escape Directors, Carah Faye Charnow) to benefit The Project Matters.
Here’s the official Project Matters mission statement/general description, from their site:
******The Project Matters ( “TPM” ) has been established in the memory and honor of Benjamin High a young musician from Freehold, New Jersey and the founder of his band Green Arrows.
The Project Matters believes in the importance of music, music education and how the musical arts benefit all of society. The primary focus of TPM is to discover aspiring musicians 21 years of age and younger and provide them with, among other things: funding, business, legal, emotional support and educational opportunities. Currently, TPM is building a network of experienced musicians who can offer advice with touring, performance, production, post production and related subjects as the careers of our young musicians unfold.******
Why we’re playing…
The more personal backstory goes something like this, at least as well as I can remember it…a few years back, Oct. of ’06 to be exact, we got a super nice email from someone named Ben who wrote because his band, Green Arrows, and a friend’s band, Joseph Ferocious, had combined to cover our song Happy at a co-headlining show at the Stone Pony and he wanted to share along a link for us to - you can see it here:
…which of course, is really flattering, even putting aside that they played the song better than we did. Around the same time, his friend, Joseph began taking lessons from me – ostensibly guitar stuff, songwriting, recording etc. although when you see where this is going, you’d be right in thinking there wasn’t much I’d be teaching him.
By the next summer, Joe had started recording at our studio what eventually became his first album, also eventually settling on a band name of Cymbals Eat Guitars and Ben was onboard playing bass, while still working on his own Green Arrows music.
We were only just a few day into recording when – and I’ve written this a dozen times now and can’t seem to find the right way to say it – Ben died.
Besides the tragedy of someone passing so young, Ben was just one of the sweetest, most sincere, and wise-beyond-his-years folks I’d ever met. And talented. This show is also serving as the official release party of the posthumous debut for Green Arrows and the record, which I’ve now listened to in its entirety a dozen times, is heart-breakingly wonderful.
If there’s any fairness in the indie world, you’ll be reading about it on a few best-of-year lists next December.
Each band/performer, myself included, will be covering one of Ben’s Green Arrows songs from the album. I'll also be playing another new song with Joseph from Cymbals Eat Guitars.
So with apologies to Ben’s mom and brother, who started the Project Matters and are organizing the benefit/release show, for the very late announcement on all this, we hope to see you there…
Finding ourselves with a few spare hours, a bag of nails, and some lumber that was in the yard, we’ve hammered together a new web store. And to commemorate so auspicious an occasion, we’ve got a lovely new shirt to hang in the window as well, all very coincidentally in time for some ritual holiday consumer action.
It’s one of our nicer shirts yet, probably because it wasn’t done by us, but instead by a trained & paid professional (design by Jeff Nicholas at The Uprising Creative):
May come as a surprise, may probably not, but I, charles, am not only not the coolest person in the band, I’m not even the coolest person in our house. In fact, the arrival of children has now cemented my ‘not even by a long shot’ status.
Don’t usually make too big a deal of it, but I love indie rock enough in general, and the band Palomar in particular, that I married into it. Hence the move to Brooklyn a few years back, starting me on my own personal cool-makeover.
And the list of other performers is a cool one too – Nada Surf (acoustic), Bird of Youth, My Teenage Stride, Robbers on High Street, comedians Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry & Dave Hill, author Jennifer Baumgardner reading from her work…it goes on. On long enough, in fact, to include us.
Or three quarters of us anyway…Kev, Greg & I will be playing a set of new songs currently in the running for our own new album at the Nov. 30th show (benefiting Women’s Audio Mission). Our pals, Bird of Youth, are also playing this one. See the level of indie nepotism at play here?
You can purchase tickets for our show here and for a discounted $40, a ticket to all five Tuesdays’ shows here.
Hope to see you there…
* the real audio heavy-lifting for the new Palomar record being done by the estimable Phil Palazzolo at Seaside Lounge and by Palomar themselves in our basement
charles will be playing a solo show at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn, next Wed., Oct. 6th opening up for our dear pal Tim Kasher, who’s usually fronting a little band called Cursive, but currently hitting the highway supporting his new solo album, the Game of Monogamy (which is wonderful, by the way).
Charles will be hacking his way through some new songs demo’d or on the drawing board for the next Wrens album as well as his usual Sultan’s variety of bad effects pedal choices and looping and studio trickery. Maybe a cover song too…possibly a new shirt…
have written & demo’d about a dozen new songs in the last month (one of them nearly above average) and that’s just me (me being Charles). And that's even working around the arrival of Heir #2, who frankly, even for a minus-two-week-old, hasn't lifted a finger to help with the band [edit.: Press photo not avail. Older brother pictured w/ relevant record-o headgear]
Kevin came over last night and we lay our respective demos & full-band tracks on the table and now have a very first early glimpse of how a next album(s) might lay out, itself a first. Have I mentioned he has 100 demos? One of them is also quite good.
With the hammer finally regularly to the anvil of song-smithing, now only need to drop 15lbs, shave my head and buy a decent shirt made either within the last year or not in the last 40...and a musician I'll be. Touring back and forth between the two remaining venues of the ice-covered post-apocalyptic snow-scape of a hell frozen over…you know, because we’d have done a new album.