- On a Midnight Listening Rampage With Eric Lichter
If you have never stumbled through the night listening to something you’d never heard before you’re not going to understand what a thrill this is, but I am right now diving through a string of songs by The Green Pajamas‘ Eric Lichter that I don’t think even he knew were posted. Not that long ago, I was searching Facebook for possible inclusions in the Notes section of this column and Eric posted a couple of songs on a site called Broadjams.com.
I like Eric’s stuff (his latest album ELKS In Paris got tons of thumbs up from me) and figured what the hell? What the hell, indeed. While dipping my toes in the shallow end of the pool, I was blindsided and knocked into the deep end. This is the kind of stuff I live for.
For one thing, it’s past midnight, a perfect time to hear new stuff. Those who think that the time of day doesn’t matter when it comes to music haven’t come home drunk and barely made it to the turntable before realizing that the legs just didn’t work anymore but everything would be okay because Space Opera‘s music would surely wake them up. Welcome to my world as a young(er) music junkie. For another, listening late at night or early in the morning, the ambient noise doesn’t get in the way. Nothing like a truck backing into the driveway, backup whistle beeping, to make you lose focus. Little chance of that happening after midnight (unless you just happen to live on the backalley from hell). But the most important reason is that at midnight, the chemicals you pumped into your body are dripping out of your pores and allowing you that out of body experience you know you crave, otherwise you would not have blown twenty bucks on ale that might as well have been PBR after the first pint.
Those were the days. Stumbling home at closing time, glad you lived downhill because you never could have made it home uphill. And at the end of that bone-jarring trek, music. Your music. Well, my music. Sometimes, what would become my music. I found Manfred Mann’s Earth Band on one of those nights. And the gateway to The Pretty Things— Freeway Madness. Bands and albums I liked but, afterward, loved. All after midnight. Occasionally under the influence.
These days I am rarely under the influence (outside the influence of caffeine and music). I don’t listen to just listen anymore. I listen to hear. Right now I am hearing a smorgasbord of Lichter songs in… what? Demo-mode? Incomplete? Are they mere musical thoughts? Doesn’t sound like it to me. Sounds finished. Sometimes a bit rough, but completely finished. Recorded without the trappings of perfectionHonest, simple. (Photo by Laura Ross: Eric Lichter holding prototype of new baby-shaped guitar)
But that is not enough. So I message Lichter.
“Eric— what is this broadjam thing?”
“not sure. just found it. seems like they pulled a bunch of songs, most of which are just demos and that I never put out right off my computer and put it on their site. Crazy-”
“They’re allowed to do that? You going to allow it? If so, I’m going to write a review. Weird that they would do it and not tell you. In fact, if you’re going to allow it, what say we do an interview about the songs?”
“No prob. happy to Frank. “
“Give me a week to go through the songs and I will contact you about a time, Eric. That’s some good stuff you have hidden on that site. “
“Thanks man. Look forward to it.”
Not as much as I do, sports fans. I have questions. Like how this could happen— the music ending up on a page without active participation of the musician. I’m not complaining, mind you. In fact, I’m ecstatic. To find this at all is a godsend to a guy like myself. And about those songs—– they each have a thumbnail description. Are they correct or are there other explanations?
Hold on. Just received an email from Tom Dyer, head monkey at Green Monkey Records (that’s the Pajamas’ label, folks). He says that Lichter had a solo album previous to ELKS (titled Palm Wine Sunday Blue), released by Parasol Records. Four of the tracks posted on Broadjams are available on that album, but assumedly not the same takes. This is writing on the fly, sports fans. And ain’t it fun?
I will be checking in with Mr. Lichter next week. In the meantime, you can scope out 28 songs on the Broadjams page. Just click here and then click on the player. If you want to hear more, click on the song and it will load that upon which you click. This is good stuff. Trust me.
Green Monkey: The Little Label That Does…..
If you know me, you’ve heard about Green Monkey and how important I think they were/are to the Seattle music scene. For one thing, they are home to one of my favorite bands from the Pac NW, the aforementioned Green Pajamas (and, by default, Eric Lichter). For another, they have archived some very important music from that scene (and not just for profit). They are one of a handful of labels which are doing what all labels should be doing— helping and protecting artists and the music they make.
They also open their vaults each winter to artists outside the label who have recorded or are recording Christmas songs. Here is Tom Dyer’s call to arms for this Christmas (though if you participate, you have to get the music in far before):
“Consider this your official notice that we will do another fine Xmas album this year and we would be most happy to have you contribute. All the dough will go to charity as usual. May switch the charity over to Music Cares this year. The basic notion is pretty simple really. Bands/artists submit whatever they have handy. Some go record something new. Some are traditional, some are new compositions. We don’t keep the rights to anything beyond this use, though we will make them available forever. They can be bought through our GMR bandcamp page or through iTunes etc. You can see what we did last year right here. http://www.greenmonkeyrecords.com/wordpress/catalog_Xmas2012.php Let me know if you are thinking about joining our Holiday noise pile and feel free to share this with anyone you like! td Green Monkey”
Sweet and to the point, the way GM operates. I asked Tom if it would be limited to Pac NW bands and he said he likes to keep it as close to home as possible, but no, anyone could submit. Last year’s Frothing the Nog album was the best so far. If you think you have what it takes, submit. Just remember, it has to be Christmas-oriented.
By the way, the label has just released another outstanding Green Pajamas album titled November, recorded by Jack Endino back in November of 1987. Nineteen songs. Live. Check it out at greenmonkeyrecords.com.Frank Gutch Jr.