Watch & Listen

Mark Eitzel's new record, Don't Be a Stranger, was released by Merge Records on October 2, 2012 in North America, South America, and Asia.

After a string of bad luck that included a heart attack that set him back several months and the implosion of his band American Music Club, Mark Eitzel fortuitously found himself in the studio with celebrated producer Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Ben Harper), thanks to the generosity of an old friend. The result is Eitzel's finest solo album in over a decade.

Mark began writing and recording the songs that would become Don't Be a Stranger in early 2010. Initially planned as the next American Music Club album, it quickly became evident that the new songs would work better as a solo album. He visited the UK for a few months to play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival and to help launch Marine Parade, the musical he co-wrote with Simon Stephens, which premiered at the Brighton Festival and has gone on to be produced in Germany.

Then in May of 2011, Mark suffered a serious heart attack that kept him flat on his back and out of circulation until the following October. He had to seriously re-evaluate his lifestyle and habits and take a step back from the recording.

Good luck suddenly appeared in the form of a friend who had just won the lottery and offered to fund his recording in a studio. Producer Sheldon Gomberg put together a band that included Attractions drummer Pete Thomas and American Music Club guitarist Vudi on a few songs, as well as a full string section and many Los Angeles musical luminaries. The organic collaboration between Mark and Sheldon resulted in a generous and beautiful record, about which Mark says, "I wanted to make an album more reminiscent of records like Harvest by Neil Young or Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake than anything I've previously done."

Inspired by his experience writing a musical, Mark's songwriting is simpler on this record and lyrically reflects a more straight-ahead approach. There is a haunted quality to tracks like "I Love You But You're Dead" (a song based on seeing the punk band Destroy All Monsters) and "The Bill Is Due," which are about broken promises, leftover people, the desperation one feels when time and cash are running out, and ultimately, the feeling of not knowing what comes next. "Break the Champagne" and "Nowhere to Run" were written in a fit of creativity just days before the album was completed.

Mark Eitzel has released over 15 albums of original material with his band American Music Club and as a solo artist. The Guardian has called him "America's Greatest Living Lyricist" and Rolling Stone once gave him their Songwriter of the Year award. Originally formed in 1983, American Music Club released seven albums before breaking up in 1995. They reunited in 2004 and subsequently released two albums on Merge Records, Love Songs for Patriots and The Golden Age.

Mark plans to tour the US in late 2012 and Europe in early 2013 with his band Mark Eitzel��s Warm Gentle Rain, whose stateside members include Kristin Sobditch (Little Fuzzy), Marc Capelle (American Music Club), Jon Langmead (Loquat), and Pete Straus (Dwarves). His live set consists of a mixture of songs from his rich catalog, including selections from American Music Club as well as newer material. Mark's touring band will consist of piano, bass, and drums in the classic lounge style, but he also plans to "bring the chaos" in the form of his electric guitar. Renowned for his self-deprecating sense of humor, Mark's live shows are always unique and unpredictable in the best possible way.

Anders and Kendall

Anders Parker was the main force behind experimental indie-rock band Varnaline. He has also released four critically acclaimed solo albums and most recently has been a part of the Woody Guthrie project New Multitudes with Jay Farrar, Jim James and Will Johnson.

Kendall Meade is most known for her band Mascott, described by Spin magazine as “a tender indie rock project that combines soft piano and guitar pop with diary-like lyrical intimacy.” She has also performed guitarist, bass player, keyboardist and/or backup singer duties for Sparklehorse, Lloyd Cole, Helium and The Spinanes.

Friends and collaborators since the 90s (Kendall has sung on every record Parker has made since the final Varnaline record), they’ve always wanted to do a project together, but the time was never right. Kendall has a Manhattan day job; Anders was continually working on and touring with his own projects. Finally though, in the winter of 2011, Parker dared Meade to make the project happen. She took it as a challenge, and booked a ticket to Anders’ home in Burlington, Vermont.

The following Spring, they recorded in Knoxville, with Kendall’s old bandmate from Sparklehorse, Scott Minor. Anders’ had done a U.S. tour with Sparklehorse in the ’90s. When it came time to choose a studio and producer, Minor made perfect sense, closing a circle years in the making.

Scott’s analog studio, Wild Chorus, was recently completed, and this is the first full-length album to be recorded there. In tribute, the record was named after the studio.

Minor pulled in his favorite local musicians to back them up, and a record was born. “We believed in the songs, and put a lot of trust in Scott to make great decisions with us and he was spot on every time—with the musicians and his production instincts,” says Parker. From the breezy folk-pop lope of “City of Greats” to the groove of “We’re On Fire, Babe” to the reverb drenched ambience of “Oh Love,” each song has its own distinct style, all captured by Minor’s innate creativity and vintage analog equipment.

You can hear both Parker’s and Meade’s distinct styles on the album, but the result is a sound all their own. The magic is in how their voices blend together, something Rolling Stone caught when reviewing the earlier Meade/Parker duet “Keep Me Hanging On” from Parker’s second solo album Tell It To The Dust. “Kendall Meade…lends credence to Parker’s already elemental songs. ‘Keep Me Hanging On’ is one of those songs that’s so perfect, it seems more born than written; Parker’s dry, slightly bruised vocals stir up Meade’s supple, simple alto until they match the same emotional pitch.”

In the end, Wild Chorus is ultimately about Meade’s and Parker’s voices and the songs they wrote together – 11 melodies that capture the spirit of two accomplished musicians and great friends.

Will Sprott

With the Mumlers, Will Sprott's penchant for conjuring the specters of haunting '60s folk butts heads with Big Easy brass and bright organs. He wears his influences on his sleeve, borrowing from heyday rock 'n' roll just enough to leave room for his own embellishments, of which his soulful voice stands as a distinct highlight. Sprott's solo work is stripped of some of the Mumlers' pizzazz, but you'll find that even more exposed, his talents are given wiggle-room to burst and bloom.

$10.00 - $12.00

Tickets

Advanced Tickets are available online until 5pm on the day of the show and a reserve of tickets are generally available at the door that night, unless posted on the Starry Plough website, Facebook and Twitter pages as sold out. http://www.starryploughpub.com

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Mark Eitzel, Anders & Kendall and Will Sprott (The Mumlers)

Friday, June 28 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Starry Plough