“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. You don’t get someone who’s penned a rock opera very often, not least one based on re-telling the back story of Mean Mr. Mustard from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” imagined as a queer icon. Caleb Nichols is releasing a debut solo album called “Ramon” with that enticing and unique premise, and it’s coming out on 24th June on VS’ label of the year last year, the 30 year old but it doesn’t look it inclusive and activist iconoclastic punk label Kill Rock Stars.

Nichols is an intriguingly inventive song writer, and they’ve embarked on an epic project as their first extravaganza. Sometimes catchily bombastic like Paul Williams, other times spikily funny like Jonathan Richman, or plain heart breaking like Elliott Smith, it’s a real ride. It’s also a genuine pleasure to get Caleb here to pick a tune from their unparalleled imagination. Welcome to VS, Caleb Nichols!

The titular “Ramon” is Ramon Mustard (the reimagined Mr. Mustard). So captivated by Lennon’s tale of the downtrodden Mustard, Nichols wondered why he’d come to be that mean old man sleeping in the park, shouting obscenities at the queen. Since there’s a human story behind every piece of perceived nastiness and unfortunate circumstance, Caleb summoned Ramon as “a queer young person living at the turn of the century who couldn’t be himself and got his heart badly broken. That’s the story the album tells: how this queer person’s life didn’t go the way it could have, in a kinder society.”

Here’s the album cover art with it’s almost “Revolver”-esque styling…

Although this is Caleb’s first solo album it’s not their first rodeo, they’re a Californian based artist, writer, poet and most rock & roll of all, librarian. Since the early 2000s Caleb’s been part of a bunch of bands ranging from DIY folk-punks the Bloody Heads to much vaunted Port O’Brien not to mention their own projects Grand Lake, CHURCHES, and Soft People. And as if not fascinating enough Nichols is also a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Bangor University in Wales and also owns and runs (or should I say pedals) the SLO Book Bike, a bike-powered, pop-up bookshop in San Luis Obispo.

What a brain, what unimpeachable credentials, what an edifying and satisfying songwriter – but enough of all that, without further ado what on earth is Caleb’s “song for ewe”…

“Artist is Goon, and the song is “Fruiting Body” from their 2022 “Paint By Numbers. Vol. 1” EP.

I loved this song from the first time I heard it: it has this early-00’s Pinback/Three Mile Pilot-influenced riff that gives it a hook, but then transcends this influence mightily.

Goon has such a unique, fresh sound, and they might be my favorite band that you haven’t yet heard of. We toured with Goon for a week in April, and I was amazed at how each night their songs got better and better, and by the end of the week I was completely transformed, like a Kafka-level transformation, into an absolute FAN.

Listen if you dare: you run the risk of coming down with an incurable case of Goon fandom.”

THANKS SO MUCH TO CALEB AND TO RACHEL AT SILVER PR

PHOTO OF CALEB NICHOLS BY DEBORAH DENKER

“Ramon” is out on Kill Rock Stars on June 24th and you can pre-order here

…and further to Caleb’s bunny-eared pic, here’s a rabbit shaped romp from the album…