I'm going to double-check the calendar just to be sure, but I think this could be the year of the Swayback. At least, that's the sense I get from listening to Long Gone Lads, the act's absolutely killer new platter, which Eric Halborg blessed me with last week. More than three years after the Swayback issued its self-titled debut on Too Bad You're Beautiful Recordings, eighteen months since What Are Records? posted the three-song Forewarned EP, this latest effort is finally finished. Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait a little longer for your own copy; details of its release are still being ironed out.
Whenever Lads sees the light of day — most likely in the next few months — you can bet it will be well worth the wait. After spending the bulk of last spring working extensively on what turned out to be pre-production for the new record with legendary knob-turner Bob Ferbrache, Halborg and company hit the studio with Andrew Vastola this past summer and emerged with what could be their career-defining record. Halborg's sultry vampiric sneer is as dependably dark and menacingly romantic as ever, particularly on such standout tracks as "Concrete Blocks," "Queens Dance," "Just Like Old Days" and "Meircats," which are all ably led by the frontman's groovy, humid bass lines and fleshed out by Martijn Bolster's taut timekeeping and William Murphy's careening guitar work. There's not a weak sister in the bunch. The tunes are so good, in fact, that even a steady-handed rendering of the Velvet's "I'm Waiting for the Man" gets overshadowed. (Listen for yourself at myspace.com/theswayback, or catch the band live this Friday, January 18, at the Larimer Lounge.)
Eryc Eyl had the same reaction to Lads. "Holy shit, dude," he wrote after getting his hands on an advance copy. "Might as well go ahead and throw this one on the Best of 2008 pile right now."
From the sounds of it, that could turn into a substantial pile. We're barely into January, and I've already received word of forthcoming records from the likes of d.biddle, Laylights, Bad Luck City, Slim Cessna and Nathan & Stephen, yet another act whose album Vastola is overseeing. But by the time that disc hits the streets, it could have a different moniker on the cover — maybe Hearts of Palm, the name of an Idaho album from 2000.
I recently ran into Nathan McGarvey at the hi-dive, where he was tending bar, and he confirmed that Nathan & Stephen will soon be rechristened. The name no longer fits, he explained, and it's time for the other members to get their due. Although I'm pretty attached to the Nathan & Stephen label — mostly because it's grown on me and I completely dig the incongruity of it — the decision makes sense. The band began as a collaboration between McGarvey and Stephen Till but has since evolved into a full-on, nine-piece endeavor.
Changing your moniker midstream is a risky move, because you stand to lose any brand awareness you've established. All the same, things seem to be working out fine for Autumn Film, which recently changed its name from Tifah for much the same reason.
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Upbeats and beatdowns: Congrats to Tickle Me Pink, which is reportedly in the process of inking a deal with Wind Up Records, no doubt thanks to the endorsement and support of KTCL, which has really been putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to local music.
Finally, one of the brightest acts to emerge over the past year, the Brotherhood of Dae Han, will play its last show ever at the Aggie in Fort Collins, its home town, on Saturday, February 2. On the Brotherhood's MySpace page, there's a picture of the guys standing on the front lawn of a sprawling estate with cans of gasoline in their hands. Their backs are to the camera, the house is engulfed in flames, and the fellas are just watching it burn. That picture now seems sadly prescient, as the band itself appears to have burned out. "It has been an amazing two years for the five of us," reads a blog on the page. "We had our fair share of successes and setbacks, but certain goals were not met within our timeframe. Basically, we have run out of steam."
Rest in peace, brethren.