Three-piece experimental indie-rock band Thee More Shallows released three albums and a few EPs back in the early ‘00s, garnering critical acclaim and a cult following before the band disbanded. Each of the members moved into new phases of their lives. Now, frontman Dee Kesler has emerged from the wilderness working under the Thee More Shallows moniker again with the help of some previous band members and some new musicians.
Dad Jams has been described as “probably the coolest album anyone’s ever written about fatherhood,” combining eccentric experimentation with perfect epic pop moments. Dad Jams is the first Thee More Shallows offering in 14 years and comes out this May, via Monotreme Records.
As a taster to get you all in the mood for the album release in May, the band are set to release the psychedelic, hippy-infused slice of indie-pop “Ancient Baby” tomorrow. Speaking about the track, Dee said, “The title ‘Ancient Baby’ always makes me laugh. Does it mean an old soul, like a sweet little Dali Lama, or a geriatric/infantile combo? Both. The process was typical for me, and the TMS project in general, in that the writing and initial recording process went quickly… then I did roughly 2,000 overdubs.”
So why return now after 14 years? That was one of the burning questions we put to Kesler.
Thee More Shallows are back after a 14 year break. Life took you in a different direction at the time, so what brought you back together?
Dee Kesler: “It’s weird that it has been 14 years! I always intended to do another album, but life intervened. This literally is the first chance I’ve had over the last decade-plus. And when it came time to record the songs I had finished, I reached out to the people who I love and trust as collaborators… and used the band name that we’d used in the past. It remains a terrible name: Thee More Shallows. Who would name a band that?”
Thee More Shallows 2021 is a mix of old members and new members. How was the initial reaction to getting back together and what was the reasoning behind getting new members in?
“I’m not sure anyone’s back together, per se. I just finished some songs, and these are the people with whom I love to work. I’ve always been the main songwriter. In the early days of the band, Tadas was a co-producer. Later on, Brian and Jason took on more active roles. I would have loved to get all of them together, but this time around it turned out that only Jason and my schedules aligned. Cosmos has been on all the albums. And Rayel, I first heard doing a Rihanna sound-alike on a cheerleader stock-music album?!? I reached out to her to do some vocals because I thought her voice was amazing. That sounds like past-tense; I continue to think her voice is amazing!”
You’ve got a new record coming out in May, what can you tell us about the new music?
“It’s the most direct thing Thee More Shallows has produced. Lots of very direct, overtly-themed choruses. And lots of very direct, unvarnished observations in the lyrics.”
You’ve grown-up, had kids, had a life… what is the most important lesson you’ve learned over those 14 years?
“Be kind to yourself and to others.”
And what do you think about the music industry in 2021 compared to 2006?
“In 2006, Spotify hadn’t yet formalized the worthlessness of a recording. But also, you couldn’t self-release and find a billion fans. So the good keeps coming with the bad. Every year the ‘industry’ unveils new opportunities, and engineers new racks on which artists can torture themselves. Production and songwriting keep hitting new heights of creativity, and the marketplace commodifies the results ever more efficiently.”
I believe the album is written about fatherhood. What is the one lesson or nugget of wisdom you’d like to pass on to soon-to-be fathers from your own experiences?
“You’re literally the best person for the job. Get some Richard Scarry books!”
Finally, thanks for your time. What does Thee More Shallows mean to you in 2021?
“It remains the primary vehicle for me to express myself, in whatever year I’m lucky enough to be living in.”
Dad Jams will be available on CD and digital formats on May 28th, as well as a limited edition vinyl LP (200 copies on 180g white vinyl), which can be ordered from Monotreme Records.
The Eighty Six Seas – ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ [Album Review]
Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas!
On February 23, 2024, The Eighty Six Seas released their first 11-track full-length album, Scenes from an Art Heist. Each track on this album is meant to represent a fictionalized story of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
The first track sets out an eerie aura that aligns with the track’s title, a dedication to Isabella Stewart Gardner. The next song is a quick switch up from the first, with flighty strings and a whispered voice from lead singer Nick Stevens.
Moving on to track number three, “Coffee and Art,” you’ll hear a faster-paced, nearly techno piece that feels like caffeine hitting your bloodstream for the first time in the morning. Their next song, “Jenny,” is a piano-led ballad spotlighting Steven’s melancholy voice. With “Lonely Afternoon,” the track transforms back into the techno feel of “Coffee and Art,” but with a darker twist.
The next song, “Cat/Mouse,” sounds exactly as you’d expect—like a tense cat-and-mouse standoff, with the music accenting this push-and-pull dynamic. “Hey Little Bird” is more or less an instrumental, with occasional lyrics included, but it is clearly meant to be the interlude.
Moving on, we arrive at a track called “The Day I Die,” a techno piece with a fabulous crescendo after its quiet beginnings. Following that, “The Eighty Six Seas” provides its track, “Portrait of a Smuggler,” which quite literally encapsulates the feeling you have while walking through a park on a sunny day.
Next, we come to “Ghost in the Cityscape,” which has darker undertones, a sorrowful cello, and a slower tempo. The final piece is titled “Frames,” which will remind you of a love letter saying goodbye or a beautiful lullaby. Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas.
Scenes from an Art Heist Track Listing:
1. For Isabella, March 1990
2. Scenes from an Art Heist
3. Coffee and Art
5. Lonely Afternoon
6. Cat / Mouse
7. Hey Little Bird
8. The Day I Die
9. Portrait of a Smuggler
10. Ghost in the Cityscape
Release Date: February 23, 2024
Record Label: Independent
The Western Civilization – ‘Fractions of a Whole’ [Album Review]
The Western Civilization delivers expressive vocals and a wealth of stylistic aromas with an existential richness on ‘Fractions of a Whole.’
It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Applied to Texas-based indie-rock outfit The Western Civilization, the adage refers to the chemistry between Rachel Hansbro and Reggie O’Farrell, a chemistry on display in their recently released album, Fractions of a Whole.
Speaking about the album, Hansbro says, “The new songs were inspired by the amazing people who are part of my chosen family. Reggie has always been good at reminding me of the positive things. (He is) another voice saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.’”
Reggie O’Farrell and Rachel Hansbro first met while playing in separate bands. A friendship developed, resulting in two albums and performances at the Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, Halifax Pop Explosion, and, most importantly, an artistic alliance that survived a variety of obstacles.
Revolving around Hansbro and O’Farrell, The Western Civilization is a collaborative project with a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators who expose the actuality of Aristotle’s dictum.
The album opens with “Noctambulism,” a floating, folk-rock song with hints of Americana flowing through it. Driven by a sparkling piano topped by the voices of Hansbro and O’Farrell merging, the melody wafts and undulates like drifting clouds across the sky.
High points embrace “Bible Verses for Kids,” which reveals elusive Celtic flavors, a bit like The Cranberries. A rolling snare gives the rhythm a galloping motion as layered harmonies infuse the lyrics with choir-like textures verging on grandness.
A personal favorite because of Hansbro’s deliciously casual vocals, “Fool” resembles a child’s nursery rhyme reimagined as indie-rock – dreamy, drawling, almost discordant vocals riding over loose, garage rock harmonics. The imperfect, raggedy feel of the tune makes it wondrously genuine and gratifying.
“Proselytism,” the closing track, travels on light, migrant surfaces as Hansbro’s soft, breathy vocals imbue the lyrics with subtle, eccentric whimsy, a kind of didactic reflection.
Expressive vocals, along with a wealth of stylistic aromas, invest Fractions of a Whole with an existential richness.
Fractions of a Whole Track Listing:
2. Stitches (read our song review)
3. Bible Verses for Kids
4. She’s by the Sea
5. If You’re Lucky
7. My Mess
8. The Snake and The Saint
9. The Ocean’s on the Rise
Run Time: 42:18
Release Date: February 16, 2024
Record Label: Independent
Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup
Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.
Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.
The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.
Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!
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