The release of Steve Gunn’s phenomenal new album Time Off is right around the corner, on Tuesday, June 18th, and we have some news and new content to share in advance of that happy occasion. Steve and the band recorded an incredible session of three Time Off tunes in extended, exploratory versions for WXPN’s The Key fresh from tour with Kurt Vile and the Violators. Check out those downloadable and streamable tracks here. They’re in top form; you won’t regret it.
If you live in the Northeast, you’ll want to attend one of Steve’s two record release parties:
Philadelphia Time Off Release Party
With Endless Boogie and Psalmists!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
New York Time Off Release Party
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Union Pool, 484 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Reviews of the album have started to come in, and the critical reception has been terrific. One of our favorite writers, James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand, following his similar piece in conversation with Hiss Golden Messenger, filed a fascinating interview with Steve for Aquarium Drunkard that touches on hardcore, songwriting, and Krishna beads, among other things. Writes JJT:
“Among certain critics and cultural trainspotters, there exists a colloquialism – ‘gamechanger’ – to denote a brazen, unexpected creative leap by an already respected and established artist. The risk of potentially alienating a listenership that increasingly has more choices than patience is a perilous one, but to take such a gamble and succeed can earn an artist irreproachable status henceforth. Some examples of historical gamechangers are Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, Radiohead’s Kid A, and Scott Walker’s Tilt. We may soon be adding to this list the new album by New York-based guitarist Steve Gunn, whose Time Off, released June 18th on Paradise of Bachelors, finds the formerly ubiquitous psychedelic journeyman exploring traditional songwriting through a prism of airy blues, ambling jazz-folk, and subtle but virtuosic guitar dreamweaving. For starters, imagine the Dead’s “Bird Song” performed by guys who know all the Sun City Girls records by heart. Not so much an about-face as a panoramic zooming-out, Time Off should introduce Gunn’s beguiling music to an entire new audience even as it retains the spirit and the logic of his earliest and most experimental work.”
– James Toth, Aquarium Drunkard
Tyler Wilcox penned this spot-on review of the record, also for Aquarium Drunkard, which includes the following apt description:
“The album neatly ties together two strands of Gunn’s previous work — the expansive, improvisatory guitar-drum jams of the Gunn-Truscinksi Duo and the more song-based approach of 2009′s masterful Boerum Palace. The guitarist leads his rhythm section (John Truscinski on drums and Justin Tripp on bass) through a set of tunes that nod in the direction of the Grateful Dead, JJ Cale, and Neil Young without feeling remotely retro. The interplay here is marvelous; Truscinksi and Tripp can choogle like nobody’s business, but with the lightness and dynamics of jazz players, leaving Gunn free to weave intricate webs of layered acoustic and electric guitars. The album rocks, to be sure, but never relies on volume for its inherent heaviness. Dig the beautiful ebb and flow of its majestic opener, “Water Wheel,” the deep boogie of “New Decline,” or the hypnotic churn of “Trailways Rambler.” Time Off captures a musician at the top of his game. Gunn’s aim is true.”
– Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard
In his superb Village Voice feature on Gunn, which captures Steve during his tour with Kurt Vile, Elliott Sharp writes:
“Time Off is Gunn’s finest work yet. He’s radically matured as a storyteller—you can hear the authority in his voice on vagrant anthem “Lurker.” He’s also victoriously united his past musical selves, as evident on “Old Strange,” which starts with a hypnotic acoustic phrase but swerves into a “Bron-Y-Aur” jam. Then there are the new things the trio format makes possible, like the stomping, bluesy “New Decline,” where Gunn rips an electric solo while his band secures the groove. It’s one of the year’s most powerful folk-rock statements.”
– Elliott Sharp, The Village Voice
PoB pal and legendary music journalist Kris Needs offers the following lines for Shindig!:
Immediately arresting… haunted by anything from Delta blues and 70s electric Brit-folk to Michael Chapman and the Tim Hardin/Buckley school of jazzy sonic drift. If this is acid folk, this beautifully-packaged artifact should be goosing the landmarks.
– Kris Needs, Shindig!
And a few more choice quotes about Time Off:
Grade: A. “A low-key stunner, a rather diverse collection of tunes that covers substantial ground in a short span of time… In a year of similar records like Wakin On A Pretty Daze or Phosphorescent, Time Off distinguishes itself as a sparer, yet more resonant (and better sounding; Gunn and his compatriots are consummate musicians) record than either of those admittedly strong efforts. Steve Gunn definitely did something productive with his time off this year.”
“If you think all the golden singer-songwriter albums can only be pilfered from your father’s collection, think again.”
– OMG Vinyl
In case you missed it, Spin premiered this beautifully shot video of a live studio session taping of “Lurker” from the record. According to Spin’s Chris Martins:
“Like his buddy and bandmate Kurt Vile, Brooklyn singer-guitarist Steve Gunn seems beamed from a different time. He plays a worldly form of ancient blues. He sings with a little bit of vintage Mick Jagger on his tongue. He unravels stories with a level of patience and detail often lacking in contemporary music, be it of folksy origin or otherwise.”
– Chris Martins, Spin
If you live within distance of Philadelphia and you haven’t yet caught Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band’s residency at Ortlieb’s, get thee there on Thursdays in June. The band has been sounding absolutely outstanding, and folks at the Citypaper (thanks for the Dead Reckoning, Elliott!) and Doom and Gloom from the Tomb are paying attention–so should you. (The PoB family will surely be in attendance!) Tapers are more than welcome, and Chris will be posting recordings from the shows for a limited period of time, so don’t miss ’em. Look for the jaw-dropping Solar Motel on PoB in October.
After the Gunn release, Chance’s In Search is the next PoB catalog item, due July 16, and it’s a doozie. The vinyl just arrived, and it looks stunning. Our friends at American Songwriter recently premiered “Mr. Freedom Man,” which you can stream below. Chance has this to say about the song, excerpted from our 13,000 word oral history:
“After I wrote ‘Loser Till You Win’ and ‘Dusty Roads of Yesterday’ on Johnny Cash’s Martin,” he says, “I wrote this song called ‘Mr. Freedom Man,’ which was also published by the House of Cash. This Hollywood industry guy came to visit Jim Kilgore, the lighting director of the Cash show, who had become a friend of mine. Jim told him about me and the mansion and the peacocks and sent him out to see me and hear my song ‘Mr. Freedom Man,’ just a guitar and vocal demo. And he flew me to Hollywood; I stayed in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and had a ball. For one song! Anyway, he had a big office there, but he was really in the casket business; I figured that out. The third day, he wrote me an expense check for a couple hundred dollars. I went to cash it in the hotel lobby, but they pulled me over and told me the check wasn’t no good. I went back to his office, got up on his desk where he was sitting, kicked everything off it. And I told him, you bounced a $200 check on Mr. Freedom Man! I said, you don’t get to do that but once. We’re done. It only gets worse after this: that was my motto.”
The Red Rippers
We at PoB are big fans of Wooden Wand, the man and the music, and we were thrilled to read James Jackson Toth‘s particularly insightful review of the Red Rippers reissue for Aquarium Drunkard. Many thanks to those guys for all the recent love for PoB. Toth writes:
“Over There…and Over Here is, like Rodriguez’s Cold Fact, Val Stoecklin’s Grey Life and Bobb Trimble’s Harvest Of Dreams, the rare album that transcends its status as a tantalizing obscurity. It is a record of prescience, beauty, and wisdom, a would-be hellraiser’s dispatch from the furthest reaches of hell. If you got any closer, you’d be dodging mortar fire… Merits a place at the top of a short list of crucial reissues of 2013.”
– James Jackson Toth, Aquarium Drunkard
Finally, The Turnaround posted this interesting essay about DIY and grassroots aesthetics in the work of PoB, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Wooden Wand.