Thursday, November 14, 2013

An album release show and debut close to my heart

Saturday marks the local release of my husband’s band Watch Husky Burn’s third album, but WHB’s show at Tremont also marks the debut of a new band called Sidewalks. Sidewalks is the third incarnation (or maybe fourth or fifth) of one of my all-time favorite local bands. The group features four of the original members of the Lights, Fluorescent - a band that I still miss - as well as most of the members of the short-lived group My Captain. 

Some of its members have been playing together as long ago as Via - another defunct Charlotte band that predated the Lights. For the show Sidewalks is playing a couple My Captain songs and even digging out an old Via tune for the show in addition to its new originals.

I have high hopes for the band. I loved the juxtaposition of Lights’ singer Erika Blatnik’s furiously strummed acoustic and shout-sung post riot-grrrl singing, but bassist/co-vocalist Robby Hartis’ written contributions to the Lights’ all too small catalog were emotional highlights. Blatnik’s move to Richmond ended that band, but there was always something special about the chemistry that Hartis, guitarists Andre Francois and Craig Friday, and drummer Zach Irvin shared. The guys demonstrated this in My Captain, but that band’s early momentum seemed to quickly derail. Hartis joined Charlotte rock band Sugar Glyder, who had a new national label release to tour behind (but broke up this summer). Francois’ apartment and gear was destroyed in a fire last winter. And last Spring Hartis had to have a small cancerous tumor removed from his kidney. Sidewalks certainly has some heavy experiences to pull from.

Saturday we’ll also celebrate the long-awaited release of "Garnet". Technically it’s the first album under the Watch Husky Burn name. The previous two were recorded as Husky (pictured at the last Husky show last October). By long-awaited I don’t necessarily mean that you’ve been waiting on it (although some folks on the old Stoner Rock message board and avid followers overseas have asked about it more than once). It’s long-awaited to me because his intention was to release it right after our second son was born over three years ago. I’ve watched him spend hours, days, and weeks mixing it. We even rented a cabin in Saluda last winter. He set up his studio equipment in the living room while I worked on the final third of my book in the bedroom.

The album is called “Garnet” and was recorded using these Canadian amplifiers built by Thomas “Gar” Gillies in the `60s and `70s. A photo of one of his Garnets is the album's cover. My husband and the band's bass player, Mark Hadden, began collecting them a decade or so ago. All the bass and guitar tracks and some of the drum and keyboards were recorded using them. The record was recorded in the big room at Tremont Music Hall while the club was closed.

It’s certainly taken some time. Art has a tendency to take a back seat to work and kids once you have the latter. But I think it’s given the former Husky time to evolve. Thirteen years ago Husky started as an instrumental blues-based band. I liked to think of them as kids that grew up on metal reaching back to psychedelic classic rock. On "Garnet" it's grown into something more experimental, cinematic, and indie-rock while still firmly rooted in stoner rock. 

The arrangements are probably more fully realized than they would’ve been three years ago. Listening to it I get images of futuristic cities fit for exploration by Doctor Who and Flash Gordon, the old west, and a glorious castle made of ice. Someday I hope to have my own release party for the video for the song “Malamute” that’s been dancing around in my head (complete with kickline) since I heard the final mix. And I want to use the last track for my book trailer, when the time comes. That’s the cool thing about instrumental music. It can help foster your own creativity as can all music (but that’s another blog post).

“Garnet” will be available on garnet-colored, limited edition vinyl and on cd at Tremont Saturday, as well as digitally elsewhere.
Admission to the show is $8. And M4 Messenger - one of my husband’s favorite locals - kicks off the show. Doors at 8 p.m. Music at 9 p.m.