Laramie Crocker vocals
Todd Sickafoose bass
Ches Smith drums
Gawain Mathews guitars, mandolins
Wend Elsen vocal on Lay Me Down
Recorded by Bond Bergland, San Pablo Recorders, Berkeley, CA, June 18-20, 2007. Mixed by Bond Bergland, Primordial Sound Studio, Oakland, CA, 2007-2009. All songs Copyright © 2001-2009 Laramie Crocker. Big thanks to Charlie Wilson at Sonic Zen Studios, Berkeley, CA, for pre-production on Brownsville and Mary, and to Randal Mitros for help gettin a groove for Electricity and workshopping the songs.
Read the Charts
Read the Lyrics
Laramie Crocker vocals, guitar, bass, percussion,
mouth trumpet, mouth air raid siren
Wend Elsen vocals on The Tree Song
All songs copyright 2008-2009 Laramie Crocker. All songs composed by Laramie Crocker, except This Land is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie. The Cat Came Back is based on the song by Harry S. Miller, but with some crazy additions. Recorded and mixed by Laramie Crocker at Tree House Studio, Bonita Hollow, Berkeley, CA.
Read the Lyrics
You can also check out the whole album as a gapless, single track on the Internet Archive: Stereoville, USA. This is how I intended the album to be heard. The individual mp3 files don't quite give the continuous play concept that I want you to experience, but this one, big file does. Stream it, download it, Ogg Vorbis, MP3 ... have it your way.
On disc 1, "Redemption", Laramie Crocker brings his sweet, three-octave baritone voice, poetic storytelling, and arresting, original harmonies, layered lush, to the mix with acclaimed improvisers Ches Smith (drums), Todd Sickafoose (bass), and Gawain Mathews (guitar). The music is hard to put in a box: a little bit Americana, singer-songwriter, 1960's rock-n-roll, but with flavors of English folk, Pub-Rock, Gospel, Jazz, and Psychedelic. Laramie calls it "Acid-Gospel." Redemption was done live in the studio, by Bond Bergland at San Pablo Recorders in Berkeley, then layered with vocal harmony and Fx. Think of a live, male vocal quintet with a hard-hitting, funky jazz trio.
Disc 2, "Stereoville, USA", was recorded at Laramie's home studio during the time it took to produce and mix Redemption, so has a more guerilla-recording, loopy vibe, with the same lead vocal approach (but loopier and run through echoplexers), word-smithy lyrics, raucous vocal ensemble, backed by Laramie's own guitar playing -- raw, jangly, percussive, polyrhythmic, and punk, more Oud than guitar at times. The effect is dreamy, psychedelic, hypnotic and weird, while still being somehow familiar and catchy. Influences of baltic and middle eastern music, punk rock, gospel, barber shop, Good Vibrations, Led Zeppelin IV, Stereolab, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green.
Read a review on: Anaïs Nin's Blog
This album, Crazy, (the "Double Make-Out Album of the Year", MoFo) is what it sounds like inside my head, which I want to share with you. It is a personal journey, an epic of ballads and grooves. It is a stereophonic romp through warm amplifiers, middle-aged madness, love, loss, and the nature of being. Disc 1, Redemption, is a search for redemption. Disc 2, Stereoville, USA is more existential.
Lyric from Fire+Aire:
Papa was the go-to man for Gregorian Chant Mama played piano like the Mona Lisa smiles and directed choirs like falling water like Niagara like blown glass menageries like children Redemption was death Crazy is rebirth I am the beautiful bird that emerges from the licking fire.
I'd love it if you gave the album a listen -- it represents two years of pouring out music and turning expensive knobs, and I don't really know how to describe it to you in words. But if you want to read some words, in addition to the lyrics, then these might whet your appetite:Redemption
The whole disc resonates with the gorgeous sparkle of guitars, shimmering cymbals, dancing drums and funky, warm acoustic bass. (Ches, Todd, and Gawain are a true joy to play with.) Choirs come and go, floating through the ether, guided by a lead story-teller on melodic vocal lines. The disc hangs together as one band telling one full story. Within that, the tracks are distinct:
Wanderstomp - Roadhouse rock-n-roll. A train picking up speed, plumeting into the depths carefree.
When the Devil Came to California -- The Devil, screaming guitars and electric motorcycle amplifiers, flamenco acid rock, heavenly choirs.
The Perfect Crime -- Electrified and funky. The Devil, Dick Cheney, and Me. My own 9/11. A bass-heavy dance groove to bring in the Bush Years.
Brownsville General Store -- An epic country gospel ballad. Heaven and Hell on Earth, as sung from the front porch. A song that wraps you in its plump, comforting arms, and occasionally shouts out at passers-by.
Mary -- from a slow, gravelly Leonard Coen-esque ballad of lost love to Cuban duet to high-pitched jiggy feel-good pub song.
Lay Me Down -- Old-timey vocals (with Wend Elsen), a love song, a hymn to lost loved ones and to flag-draped soldiers.
Stay -- Time-shifting, gospel, orchestral, a journey. The raw and the refined. Strains of "She's So Heavy" and Jeff Buckley's "Mojo Pin." A hymn and a call to the departed. "Visit me in dreams and downpours, between drops of rain."
Electricity -- A dream in an electrified rainstorm, a moody, weird, trippy love song with subterranean chant, and a musical sunrise.
American Gypsy -- Slide guitar galore, our roadhouse alt-country band gets on the road once more, with an ethereal choir. The power of the heart to love and yodel again.
Good Days Coming -- Trippy, old-timey, manic-depressive, hopeful. A campfire song. A bouncy denouement to the epic story of Redemption.
You can listen to all the tracks here: Crazy
And read the lyrics for Redemption
Stereoville, USA sounds very different from Redemption - it is a solo effort, based on more recent songwriting. It came out of me while I was creating Redemption, so I decided to release the two discs together - cooked vs. raw, group vs. solo, professional vs. amateur. They fit together in one mindspace.
The Cat Came Back -- Rockabilly stalker, to "Back in the USSR", to what an American Gypsy Techno Surf Punk might sound like, with a mouth-trombone solo.
Rodeo Girl -- good old heartland protest ballad, but with the Platters on backup and on X.
Dream -- Instrumental. Electric guitars, fretless bass, and acoustic guitars sounding like bells, doing dreamy, if slightly drunk, counterpoint.
O Youth -- Ice cream swirly lollipops, layered jangly guitar, stereo gospel echoboy midlife crisis poetryslam sung, and overtone throat singing.
Paranoia -- Guaranteed to give you nightmare Orwelian flashbacks of the Bush Years. Industrial loops, fascistic scare tactics, and vocal air raid siren choir.
Faith, Hope and Crazy -- Polyrhythm choirs, guy-and-a-guitar yodelly protest ballad about politics and prophets from Dean to Obama. Coda in major sevenths and hopeful harmonies.
Woman Planet -- Rambling epic space fantasie, gospel funk, complete with rhythm trio jam, ion star drive, and helicopter ships. Light up and kick back.
Fact - BART PSA -- Industrial techno loudspeaker whirlwind broadcast bad-trip in an echoey BART station. In sad reflection of Oscar Grant's short life.
This Land Is Your Land -- Our populist national anthem, delivered straight from the heart, with the lyrics that Guthrie intended.
The Tree Song -- Ode to trees and tree-sitters, psychedelic and dreamy, mournful, hopeful, and rebellious. With the lovely Wend Elsen for twirly, floaty, girly harmonies.
Fire+Aire -- Fire is techno, bass driven poetryslam into echoboy over hillbilly Gregorian chant; Aire is what you get when I mix found sound from my open air studio: rain, trains, birds. Fire takes a crack at explaining the album, Aire lets you listen to my world and leaves you listening to the sounds of your own world.
You can listen to all the tracks here: Crazy
And read the lyrics for Stereoville, USA