Canadian rock band Sloan has been making music together with the same lineup since 1991, and Blown Speakers recently caught them on the latest leg of their tour at the Grog Shop in Cleveland.
Sloan released their 12th full-length album on April 6, simply called 12, and it’s every bit as strong as their prior releases. In fact, I think they keep getting better, and I find myself reaching for the more recent releases more often than even their most acclaaimed earlier material.
It’s not lost on me to be incredibly grateful that Sloan continues to make Cleveland a stop on their tour schedules. Whereas Blown Speakers has been forced to cross state lines for other bands who don’t come closer than New York, Chicago or Detroit, Sloan thankfully keeps coming back to the Grog Shop regularly.
Tonight, the front row is peppered with teens and pre-teens; budding musicians commenting on the band’s gear and oohing over the pedal boards. Athough we still feel 21 — and you can’t convince us that we’re the same age as those middle-aged grey-beards at the back of the house — it’s nice to see that Sloan still resonates with today’s kids. As Sloan said their goodbyes for the night and exited the stage, Chris Murphy gave high-fives to the kids in the front.
Cleveland country artist Charles Hill Jr recently recorded a direct-to-wax performance of his new song Little Buddy with new studio The Earnest Tube run by local engineer Clint Holley.
All Earnest Tube recordings are done straight to lacquer, with no overdubs, multitracking or mixing.
Hill wrote Little Buddy with hope that anyone with a child, grandchild, niece or nephew, can relate to.
The song was written the night of his baby niece’s first Christmas. “The whole song is about the moment I met her. Little facial expressions she was making when she was only a number of hours old, I looked at my sister and was like, ‘Well, you messed up. You made a me. You better try to make another one that’s like you.'”
“I’d actually sat down to write a song about Ken [Janssen, Cleveland friend, frontman and founder of Stow House Records, who died of ALS New Year’s Day 2015] said Hill. “This one just came out instead.”
This single is the very first Earnest Tube recording. Neither Hill nor Holley had done it before.
“We were just testing out how the process was going to work,” said Hill. “It was never to be released.” But since the recording turned out so well, he decided to run with it.
“It humanizes the whole [recording process]. There’s a little warble in it just because of how it’s done, but I like that. It gives it a sort of old school aesthetic.”
The single also features a B-side cover of Blaze Foley’s If I Could Only Fly and will be available in a limited edition of 25 hand-made custom pressings, signed and numbered by Charles himself, with proceeds benefiting hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. These pressings form Wax Mage Records go on presale Monday October 16 on Hill’s Bandcamp.
“I’m not one to go on Facebook and bitch about the president. I just don’t think it does any good,” says Hill. “Obviously he didn’t approach or execute as well as he should have with the hurricane in Puerto Rico. I mean, you can just see the apathy in the press conferences. So instead of getting mad about it on the internet, I decided it’s just better to try to stay positive and do something good about it.”
Additional copies will follow November 17 on Stow House Records, with a release party that night at Survival Kit, part of the 78th Street Studios art galleries. Hill will be joined by Al Moss on pedal steel and Mike Allen (The Dreadful Yawns) on bass. Supporting acts Clint Holley and Brandon Shields (The Lucky Ones) will also perform.
“I love playing [at Survival Kit]” Hill says. “It’s intimate. And especially with the third Friday [shows] you sort of get a built-in crowd and it’s all people that are there to absorb art in whatever way you give it to them.”