Friday, August 15, 2008

Bowery Boy Blue - Stalk That Myth

Bowery Boy Blue is a local band helmed by Indiana ex-pat Zeb Gould. You may know him from his old Bloomington band Three On The Tree, or perhaps from his work in and around NYC with Sandusky or Stereofan. Regardless of the project, his high tenor vocal and dexterous guitar playing bring whatever song he's involved with to the next level. Stalk That Myth comes on the heels of the (mostly) instrumental release All The Morningbirds.
ATM struck fear in the hearts of acoustic players around town, but the two tracks with vocals showed Gould to be a bona-fide bit of double-trouble.

Gould's musical foil (and wife - sorry ladies) is Megan Gould. Her violin and backing vocals have been a staple of Gould projects for some time now, establishing her as the Gillian Welch to his David Rawlings, and she also arranged the strings on Stalk That Myth. Her sympathetic arrangements bolster the songs wonderfully without being obtrusive or obfuscating the quiet beauty of the vocals. It's cliched to drop the Neil Young comparison, but the comparatively spartan arrangements and high lonesome vocals really do bring the great Canadian's CSNY and Harvest work to mind.

Lest you think that this is some slavish homage to another time, rest assured that Gould and the rest of Bowery Boy Blue are a forward thinking lot. Stalk That Myth was tracked at Chicago's Electrical Audio by up-and-coming producer Steve Albini and engineered by long-term cohort (and BBB co-guitarist) Sam Crawford. The end result is a warm, yet spartan, indie rock vibe ala Silkworm or Low.

The duality of the old and the new is reinforced by the tracks that bookend Stalk That Myth. The opening Great Dead Town mates minimalist backing with Gould's hushed voice. It sets the hook nicely and sucks you in for a half-hour or so of myth stalking before reprising as the closing Dead Great Town in an expanded Magnolia Electric full-band arrangement. Songs are songs, and the test of good ones is their ability to be played pretty much any way, whether it be solo or with expanded instrumentation. Stalk That Myth shows Gould to be a performer who knows his craft and his talent. Nothing is overwrought or needlessly tarted up, just well-written and recorded. It's a simple philosophy that more artists would do well to embrace.

Bowery Boy Blue play tomorrow night at Union Hall in Brooklyn with Beau Jennings as well as the Soft Drugs, who feature TW Walsh in their ranks. Buy Stalk That Myth here or check out the links below.

Bowery Boy Blue web portal
Bowery Boy Blue social networking interface
Zeb Gould web portal
Zeb Gould social networking interface
Space Photo Records

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