KZME Presents: Wild Bells CD RELEASE! with The Satin Chaps, The Pynnacles

Wild Bells

How can 12 minutes of music take a year to record and release? While not on a level of “Chinese Democracy” craziness, the sessions for Wild Bells’ new EP May Pang (and 3 other songs they sang) were a tumultuous and challenging time. Eager to record a follow-up to their 2013 self-titled debut album (produced by Tony Lash of Heatmiser/Elliott Smith fame), the band decided to record a quick EP in August of 2014 to have something out by the end of the year.

But after finishing the initial sessions at Mazinga Studio (run by KIng Black Acid main man Daniel Riddle), the sextet lost two members. Then gained two new members. And then lost another. New parts had to be written and learned. One song was entirely re-arranged from the ground up in the studio. The sessions dragged on, but after five months they were ready to mix.

Then disaster struck when a hard drive failure destroyed two of the four songs. The band reconvened in the studio to bring them back to life. “Not only did we have to re-record those two songs”, jokes band leader Pete Ficht, “but in general we kind of forgot we were just doing an EP and put an album’s worth of hooks and guitar tracks into just four songs. So that took forever, too.”

Ficht has a point, as these songs are densely melodic and thick with guitar and keyboard textures and layers of vocal harmonies. It may have “taken forever”, but you can certainly hear the effort put into it.

While Ficht had been the main singer and songwriter on the debut album, here he shares those duties with the rest of the band. All four songs are co-writes between Ficht and other members. Bassist Sean Tichenor takes the lead vocal on “Still Summer”, departed vocalist Ellen Louise Osborn sings “Wimbledon Bardot” while Ficht shares the mic with new singer Rachel Coddington on “May Pang”. And “Shining On” features Ficht on the verses and Tichenor on the bridges.

May Pang kicks things off with a drums and clavinet intro from Scott Pettitt and Sean Farrell before the wall of guitars and Ficht and Coddington’s harmonies enter - evoking summer sweetness, past regrets and ex-Beatle paramours, all in a nifty minute and a half. The wistful paean to John Lennon’s girlfriend during his mid-70s exile in Los Angeles took Ficht somewhat by surprise. “I had the melody and just kept singing ‘May Pang, la la la la’ over and over,” recalls Ficht. “Then Ellen helped me out by writing those really sweet lyrics and fleshing out a story. Halfway through recording the song, it kind of dawned on me that, oh yeah - this song is about a real, living person. Uh… hopefully, she’ll like it!”

No word from May Pang yet. Continuing the seasonal theme, we move onto Still Summer, featuring Tichenor on lead vocal. A dark and moody verse bursts (say that three times fast) into walls of interlocking harmonies, making us wonder if this is what a Nick Cave/Brian Wilson collaboration might sound like. “I always get slightly melancholy at the end of summer and that somehow morphed into a metaphor about accepting death and enjoying the present. The perfect ingredients for a pop song, right?” laughs Ficht.

Up next, we have a change of pace with Wimbledon Bardot - the sound of which can only be described as “Pacific NorthWes Anderson”. Fingerpicked guitar, mellotron and harpsichord, along with Osborn’s winsome vocal and lyrics about the late ‘60s Pop Artist Pauline Boty certainly recalls something off the soundtrack of Rushmore. Though Jeff Porter’s pedal steel and mandolin helps to add a new flavor. “We were afraid it was getting a little too precious, so we brought in the pedal steel, mandolin and lead bass to give it a little Portland rootsiness,” Ficht explains. Yup, nothing says Portland like lead bass.

And we finish out the EP with Shining On, an improbable meeting of Krautrock and Cheap Trick (Krautrick?) that the band manages to pull off with aplomb. Ficht and Coddington breathily harmonize on the verses and chorus, while Tichenor snarls through the bridges. Cascading vocals usher us out as the band fades away in the distance, a testament to Daniel Riddle’s engineering skills. “This one really got weird on us. It started out as a kind of quiet fingerpicking tune and then changed on us a few times,” explains Ficht. “But we’re super excited on where it ended up.” And hopefully, so are you. See you next time.

The Satin Chaps

The Satin Chaps ply their trade in the largely uncharted waters of European style go-go/ soul of ‘60s era groove-pop composers like Ingfried Hoffman, Gert Wilden, and Heidi Brühl. To make it palatable stateside (and to make it their own), they mix hints of American purveyors like Memphis soul kings The Bar-Kays and Pac NW garage legends the Wailers. Aided by the howl of their three-piece horn section, the whiz-bang of their Hammond organ, and the percussion necessities to make it all sparkle, the Chaps specialize in sweaty, booty-shaking music. Hailed as “a triumphant celebration of all things rhythm and blues” by Blizt Magazine and “The Party Album of the year” by The Vinyl Anachronist music blog, the group’s self-released debut long player, Might I Suggest The Satin Chaps, is part homage to the likes of Booker T and the MGs, The Mohawks, and Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.

The Pynnacles

From the music hot bed that is Portland comes a band of veterans reinventing themselves and the music that inspired them from that short time period between 1965 and 1968. The Pynnacles bring back the vitality of raw classic Psyche/Garage with some dance floor filling songs. Featuring members of Satan’s Pilgrims, Big Elf, Paradise and Crackerbash this crew has the experience without any of the burn out. Tune In, Turn On, Freak Out!!!!

$8 in advance • $10 day of show


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