Saturday, November 13, 2010

we'll rise this sunken ship out of the lake.

and it's not too late
(augustines rise ye sunken ships)

My favorite band at the 2009 Capitol Hill Block Party was, quite unexpectedly, a group I had never even heard of. They were named Pela, and I was mesmerized by their songs and stage presence. I think that I even compared them to Pearl Jam, which is no small praise from me. I liked them so much that I not only bought their album, but I also read every interview I could find and watched all their videos on youtube. However, soon after this Pela announced that they were breaking up. I think that I remember them saying something about a record deal that had fallen through (they had several songs for a new album, if I recall correctly).

Fast forward a year and a half to last Friday. I was driving to work, listening to KEXP when I heard a familiar song that I recognized as "Philadelphia" by Pela (I had downloaded a live performance podcast from KEXP and listened to that song on repeat approximately a million times during that year and a half). After the song, John Richards said that indeed it was Pela (or 2 of the members of that group) who were now known as Augustines. After work, I came home and devoured everything I could find about this group; I listened to their live session on KEXP (which you can listen to here and which I can't recommend nearly enough) and spent hours watching the three videos I could find of them on youtube over and over. During the interview with KEXP, the lead singer Billy talks about his brother who had a mental illness, was in prison, and ended up committing suicide.

Admittedly, I have a weakness for charismatic lead singers and Billy McCarthy is definitely one. Yeah he occasionally makes funny faces while he is playing and makes generous use of vocal fillers (the "come on, come on, come on's" and "hey-ya's") but I think that is what makes the songs sound so real and, dare I say, anthemic (is that a word?). When he sings, "Kid, I drove all night to tell you I love you," how can your heart not want to burst? I'd follow his voice anywhere. During their KEXP interview, Billy talks about the music community that they are a part of that helped them survive Pela's breakup, and how that community is totally outside of the music industry. I love them. And despite all that they went through, the fact that their new album is going to be called rise ye sunken ships says a lot about the group and about why I like them. I listen to music because it makes me feel - happy, sad, mad, frustrated.. but, ultimately, uplifted. And that is what these Augustine songs make me feel, ten-fold. That's a cliche, but I don't care because it's completely true.

Here's another video from that Augustine's show at the Middle East in Boston, just because I can't choose only one:

Please play in Seattle soon. John Richards from KEXP seems to love them, so that's a good start.

p.s. on their website they have a free download of Book of James as well as a promotional video for their new album that's pretty darn good. I think it was directed by someone from Seattle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, interesting post - didn't know you had written about this group, just happened to check the blog - nicely done