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Seattle band Red Jacket Mine -- comprised of singer/songwriter Lincoln Barr, guitar/pedal steel whiz Patrick Porter (who also fronts local rockers Explone, and has played in a host of Seattle bands, including Crystal Radio and the Bourbonites), bassist Ryan Chapman, and drummer Andy Salzman -- has spent the last three years honing its craft on stages throughout the Northwest, and it shows.
On the heels of their ornate, ambitious debut, Hello, Old Cloud, which garnered positive reviews and medium rotation on Seattle's standard-bearing independent radio station KEXP (with seven of the album's eleven songs receiving airplay), the band now stands poised to release its sophomore disc, Lovers Lookout, in October 2009.
Cut live to two-inch tape with minimal overdubs at Seattle's Soundhouse Recording with producer/contributor Ken Stringfellow (The Posies/Big Star/The Disciplines), Lovers Lookout is a work entirely more immediate and accessible than its predecessor. Touching on Hi Records soul ("Such an Easy Thing"), bracing guitar rock ("Childish Things"), snotty bash & pop ("The Pose"), and smoky balladry ("Fascinated"), the album finds Hello, Old Cloud's often delicate, restrained tenor supplanted by a newfound passion and confidence.
“We set up in the studio just like we play live,” Barr says. “Since making the first album, we’d become a band, and I wanted to capture that without any kid-in-a-candy-store studio artifice getting in the way.”
On their increasingly-rare decision to record to tape, Barr says, “It’s certainly getting to be prohibitively expensive. We could only afford four reels — just enough for an album, really. I kind of felt like, if we wanted to make a record on tape, this could be our last chance. So we went for it, and it was absolutely the right decision. It simplified the process in the best possible way. ‘Is this the take? Because we can only keep one.’ It either is or isn’t. If it feels good, let’s go with it. If not, let’s play it again.”
As on Hello, Old Cloud, Eyvind Kang contributes several characteristically-brilliant string arrangements, but this time around, Kang's contributions favor in-the-moment spontaneity over graceful composure. Nowhere is this more evident than on the hazy esoterica of "Apricot Moon," where Kang's viola wrestles fellow guest Ian Moore's angular, Tom Verlaine-meets-Hubert Sumlin guitar for dominance, consummating in a glorious cacophony of wood and wire. Moore also lends his signature keening falsetto to this track, providing Lovers Lookout with one of its most haunting moments.
With a knockout record in the can and an incendiary live show to back it up, Red Jacket Mine appear destined for the breakthrough their growing number of fans have expected all along. Beyond that, there's no dramatic story of tragedy and triumph. The fellows in Red Jacket Mine are reasonably content, and why shouldn't they be? The story is the music. And the music is good.
Advance Praise for Lovers Lookout
“Red Jacket Mine is the real thing...this record, played 100% live in the studio, brilliantly displays how they have every detail of their western desert-lonesome sound, and their evocative lyrics under the command of a powerful vision, which they see through to a gorgeous, glorious conclusion...bleak biblical allusions and dripping-warm Motown love declarations coexist in Red Jacket Mine's peculiar Eden.”
--- Ken Stringfellow, Lovers Lookout producer, singer/songwriter (The Posies/Big Star/The Disciplines)
“The unassuming pop of Red Jacket Mine is a refreshing reminder that talented musicians continue to make wonderful albums. Lovers Lookout is likely my favorite “new” album since Midlake’s Trials of Van Occupanther. In a perfect world, Red Jacket Mine would be on top of the charts, but fuck the charts and the radio and the critics. Make the world that you want—and for me, that world includes Lovers Lookout in heavy rotation, particularly when friends stop by for a cold drink.”
--- Edward Burch, musical curmudgeon & singer/songwriter (Bennett & Burch/Kennett Brothers)
"It’s as if Joe Pernice joined Centro-matic and we are all better for the union.”
--- Ben London, singer/songwriter (Burning Rivers/Sanford Arms)