A few weeks ago, Tom Murphy and I were sharing stories, and somehow we got on to the subject of Tornado Dream, a fascinating film chronicling the rise and fall of three great Denver bands, Rainbow Sugar, Orbit Service (an earlier incarnation; Randall Frazier has since brought the band back to life with new players) and the Czars.
That naturally led us to a discussion about the Czars, or, more specifically, The Beautiful People vs The Ugly People, which we both agreed was not only tremendous album, but one that we both considered among our favorites. We obviously know what became of the other guys who still live here, but we both kind of wondered whatever happened to John Grant after the band broke up.
Turns out, after some moving about the country, Grant evidently settled for a time in Denton, Texas, the onetime home of his former Bella Union label mates in Lift to Experience and the place from which his current label mates in Midlake hail.
The latter association is more significant, as the Midlake dudes are the ones who reportedly convinced Grant to come out to the Lonestar state to work with them on his solo record -- and by work with them, that's really just to say they served as his backing band on his Bella Union debut, The Queen of Denmark.
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While I'm not going to immediately go as far as saying that the songs from Grant's debut are as affecting as those from the Ugly People vs The Beautiful -- even Midlake would be hard pressed to match the magic created by Grant with Chris Pearson, Jeff Linsenmaier, Andy Monley and Roger Green -- Grant's voice is still every bit as enthralling and gorgeous as I remember.
One of my chief complaints regarding the Czars is how I always believed in my heart of hearts that they were one of the most criminally overlooked bands. I fear the same may hold true of Grant's latest endeavors.
Until NPR featured Grant's song "TC and Honeybear" as its Song of the Day earlier today, I was somehow not even aware that Queen, which was presumably released this past spring, had even been issued. Here's to hoping the prominent exposure helps! You can listen to half of the songs from Queen on Grant's ReverbNation page and purchase the album on Bella Union's site.
MP3: "Marz" - John Grant