THE ESSEX GREEN – Lucky 7
LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…
today it’s Brooklyn band of Lush / St. Etienne style sophisticates The Essex Green, with a new album called “Hardly Electronic” due on 29th June via Merge Records. They’ve been going since 1998 with four albums between ’99 and ’06 and were associated with the much admired Elephant 6 Collective that included The Silver Apples, Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control. It’s been a while since “Cannibal Sea” but Sasha Bell, Jeff Baron, and Christopher Ziter are back. Where have they been? Good question – building a houseboat and navigating rivers; “local fermentation efforts” and a study of “elk rutting” according to the mysterious blurb. Either way, when back together on the water under a blood red moon (other stimulants unknown) they decided to regroup and recreate their melodic majesty and it’s hardly electronic but it’s definitely electric.
Before we crack on into their choice of tunes and an insight into their learned brains via two thirds of the band – Jeff Barron and Sasha Bell (including the third time The Roches have been chosen), here’s a taster of the cerebral and joyfully nostalgic delights of “Hardly Electronic”…via song “The 710″…(Lucky 710?)
Jeff Barron’s choices:
1. Bobby Russell – Words, Music, Laughter & Tears
This remarkable record is unfortunately not available on Spotify, but someone was hip enough to upload the entire masterpiece on youtube. I found out about Bobby after being obsessed with the song, “Little Green Apples” and then tracking down its author. I couldn’t pick just one song off of this record so I included the entire work. The record is aptly titled, and each song has devastatingly poetic lyrics – simultaneously witty and heartbreaking. The music is somewhat stripped down, acoustic fingerpicking supported by stealth orchestral arrangements. Bobby seems to have lived a tough life, although it’s hard to find much about him. He died at 52 and was married to Vicki Lawrence for a spell, who had a number one hit with his song, “The Night the Lights Went Down in Georgia.”
2. The Sex Clark Five – Sarajevo
A friend of mine turned me on to this obscure Hunstville, Alabama band back when we were kids. This ominous and foreboding track is from SC5’s second record, “Strum and Drum”. The band was somewhat of a fringe player in the southeastern US pop scene from the mid-80’s that included REM, Let’s Active, Game Theory and the dB’s. The entire record is filled with catchy, guitar driven pop songs, with lyrics are often based on historical subject matter. Being a student of European history, I am particularly smitten with this song!
3. Terry Melcher – Beverly Hills
This record is also not on Spotify. A lot of people know Terry as Doris Day’s son, half of surf duo Bruce & Terry (with Beach Boy Bruce Johnston), a famous record producer and one of Charles Manson’s targets. But for me, this solo record from 1974 is his greatest achievement. The arrangements are creative and lush, the lyrics are quintessential SoCal and his vocals are uniquely beautiful. And to top it off, his backing band is the Wrecking Crew. It’s worth tracking down this gem on vinyl. The cover is a bit cheesy, but don’t be put off by the artwork – you won’t be disappointed!
Sasha Bell’s choices:
4. Robyn Hitchcock – Mad Shelley’s Letterbox
My artist crush on Robyn Hitchcock will never die. His droll lyrics are so clever that the musicality of his songs is almost icing on the cake. Most impressively, the quality of his songwriting has remained top notch over the decades. It’s impossible to choose just one favorite song from his massive output, so I’ll choose my favorite song from his most recent self-titled album. The track is “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox”. I’m guessing Robyn sees a bit of himself in Percy Shelley, especially their mutual interest in sex, tangled love and food. We’re playing the same night as Robyn at Huichica in August. I think it’s time we met.
5. Marnie Stern – Ruler
A friend recently turned me on to Marnie Stern. She’s definitely in an unusual league of her own. I can’t relate to her style of songwriting by which I mean I there’s no way “Ruler” could ever have emerged from my brain. This makes her music all the more intriguing to me. I’m also fascinated by how her clean cut persona totally belies her sonic aggression.
6. The Roches – Hammond Song
I’d never taken a close listen to The Roches until recently, which in hindsight seems crazy considering how much I now love them. Their songs have a quality that only a group of oddball, clever blood sisters could render is my guess. Their first album was produced by Robert Fripp and you can hear his signature sounds all over Hammond Song, which by the way is best heard come evening, in a dimly lit room, after dinner. Stay in school and don’t be a fool!
The Lucky 7th:
The Essex Green – Don’t Leave it in Our Hands
“Don’t Leave It In Our Hands” questions how a generation handles their culture colliding with a technology freight train. Is it an anthem? Maybe. Is the outcome uncertain? Definitely.
THANKS SO MUCH TO SASHA AND JEFF OF THE ESSEX GREEN AND TO RACHEL SILVER FROM SILVER PR
more info on the band below: