All posts by jackalberson

X.

image

This bizarre little machine – drum machines were once called ‘rhythm boxes’ – is heading to Harry’s for recording…

…but what it is being used for is something of a secret…

Advertisements

VI. April Shows Bring May Flows (Or Something)

We played a great set at Otherlands on Saturday, April 19th, opening for the recently reborn Black Max. It was our first performance promoting the CD. We performed five of the six songs from the EP, omitting “A Team of Bumblebees” as it’s generally better when played loud and fuzzy!

The set list was: If This is Forward/Near Misses/Lost In the Fire/Girl of My Dreams/Sunday, Drunk, and Dumped/(If I Held You) Close To Me/Fall (though possibly not in that exact order)

 

 

V. The Story of Imperial Lanes

This EP got its name from the now-closed bowling alley on Summer Avenue. The only other name under consideration was Slow Numbers, but since four of the songs were not slow this title seemed misleading.

Not that Imperial Lanes is any better…none of the songs are about bowling.

The cover is my cat, Dot, and a skull my girlfriend and I bought at Garden Ridge last October but didn’t actually get around to hanging up in the window. I was being goofy and put it on the wall, and Dot was checking it out.

Mastering was taken care of by Carl Saff. When we asked Harry who he used for all his other releases (which made sense…you sort of want someone who knows the nuances of the producer making the record), this was who he sent us to. Carl got it nailed down pretty quick, only making adjustments to the first and last songs to bring the bass EQ to a point consistent with the other tracks.

Audiographic Masterworks here in Memphis did the duplication. They were very easy to work with and turned it around quicker than expected.

As for songs, we had considered recording two other tunes before calling this one an EP. Those songs were “Girl, Disappear” and “Lost In the Fire”…actually slow numbers. Maybe we’ll get around to using that name eventually.

IV. The Obligatory End of Year Post

Happy holidays, everybody!

I guess we’ve actually been at this for a year now, huh? What started out as Sunday afternoon fun has pushed forth into smoky Midtown bars and art communes in Arkansas. There are tons of people to thank, and I like to think we make sure and let them know as often as possible that they are appreciated.

Two organizations in particular that merit a bit of a public shout-out would be The Poplar Lounge, who gave us a place to work on how to express these ideas in front of people, and La Lucha Space in Conway, Arkansas who showed us performing live doesn’t necessarily have to be guided by the beer light (to crib a phrase from David Bowie). Thank you, friends.

Also, what would this year be like were it not for the sharp ear and deft hand of one Harry Koniditsiotis? Six songs into recording album numero uno and he’s coaxed some amazing things out of us. Two or three more tunes and I think we can call it finished. Thank you, cap’n.

I need to make sure you know that this whole affair seemed sort of improbable when 2013 began. I need to make sure you know that this would not have happened without Patrick Glass and Maggie Bausch, who were around when this started and whose busy schedules precipitated a change of personnel. They are Pneumatic Girls as well, and will always be.

I don’t know about 2014. Who does? I do hope the momentum continues on and that we can play more music for you, whether it’s on your stereo or laptop, or during another night out on the town with cheap beer and chain smokers.

We love you!
Jack P and the Girls

III. Matchbox Saints and Disappearing Girls

The thought of putting out a single to precede our debut album came to me in perhaps early November, when we received rough mixes for the second batch of songs we recorded. A couple of liberties were taken and we had a guest player for the song “Fall” – Jason Pulley, piano man about town whom I spent time with in the Near Reaches.

Stop right there, actually. The original thought was to have him reprise his counter-melody on the song “(If I Held You) Close To Me”, but then Harry had the brilliant idea to have Jason play organ on “Fall”…to tap into the early Nineties Madchester vibe a la the Charlatans.

When the mixes came back, I recall thinking “Fall” had been transformed by this eleventh-hour addition, and I asked Harry if I could do a separate mix using the original multitracks. All told, I don’t know how different this “single mix” will actually be from the final album mix, but I made sure the organ had a prominent role.

It seemed silly to burn CD-Rs with just one track, so I turned to the live recordings we’d been making during our residency at the Poplar Lounge. One particular week turned out fairly well, so I pulled the six most solid tracks from that recording to make up the rest of this EP. Regrettably, you don’t get much of an audience vibe from these tracks – for whatever reason, the Poplar Lounge can be a hard sell – but you can tell the band sounds like four people who honestly enjoy what they’re doing together.

I don’t entirely know when the album will come out – I think the aim is to record maybe three more tracks. It seems pretty obvious that “Girl, Disappear” should be one of them, and perhaps “Lost In the Fire”. We’ll leave that decision to a band fresh off a December holiday, though. Maybe 2014 will be our year.

II. Departures and Returns

I was bitten by the touring bug in 2012, when I was acting as live keyboardist for The Switchblade Kid, and had another go at it in September for a solo project. With the connection made and the reception warm, it seemed a good time to propose that the Girls have a go at it, too.

Seeds sown, we lucked into a residency at The Poplar Lounge, which certainly has helped us sharpen our skills and tightened up the band. It helped, also, that the residency has been on Thursday nights. Still warm from a really fun set, we set off the following day to play in Conway at the new venue/community arts endeavor The Locals.

The two bands who preceded us, Frass and Big Ginsburg – yes, with a “u” – were fun. Frass did this 90s alt-rock thing and I loved that, and Big Ginsburg were young passionate indie rockers. What we are, I suppose, is still up for interpretation. At any rate, I saw lots of old friends (and new ones made when I played Conway in September). Our set was similar to what we played Thursday, only this time we very deliberately did a run-through of the Pulp classic “Common People”. It had been a spontaneous opening moment the night before, but in Conway we got people to sing. That was fun. After some chaos following the show, we ended up at some bar called The Draft and did lots of ridiculous karaoke, drank, and basically enjoyed being a group of people gigging out of town. Had my lovely girlfriend with us, too. Enjoyed that a lot.

We stayed with Robert Jones, who joined us for both Arkansas dates on an ambitious little Korg. His gal (Jamie, also residing in Memphis) was in town to see him/us and made a delicious breakfast. Eric stayed in to read his Stephen King novel, while we wandered out to goof off in Little Rock. Picked up some records, ate some pho, and enjoyed the day.

Vino’s was especially good to us, and we shared the bill with Big Ginsburg who slayed, I thought. We were pretty hot after two previous shows, and the Saturday gig was no exception. We ended the night with a shorter, less chaotic reading of Joy Division’s “Transmission”. I always think maybe we should put that one to bed, but then we end up playing it again. I still enjoy it, but I worry that people will tire of hearing it over and over. I think the Pulp song Thursday and Friday was a wise decision.

Angie and I stopped in before we left to return to Memphis to see my old friend Liz, whom was recovering from removal of a brain tumor. It was so good to see her, and good to see her on the mend. We hit the road and felt pretty fucking great about the tour. I think everyone else enjoyed themselves as well.

– Jack Pneumatic

I. Counting Upward

I remember being a bit gobsmacked when I asked Angela Horton, formerly of one of my favorite Memphis bands ever (The Satyrs), if she was interested in playing drums with me and she said yes. When I started trying to put together what became The Pneumatic Girls, that was the biggest piece of the puzzle for me.

The first lineup was Angela and I, plus my friend Maggie Bausch and man about town Patrick Glass (you most likely know him from Moving Finger, who just put a single out on Goner), and things gelled pretty well. Inevitably, scheduling proved to be a problem and we couldn’t maintain any momentum. Patrick is a HELL of a bass player, for the record, and you should pick up anything that any of his projects puts out.

But I digress…that didn’t work out due to scheduling. Enter Eric Wilson, whom I was playing with in the Near Reaches. It really was a natural choice and so he joined the fold. Soon thereafter (and I don’t actually remember the particulars) we added Matthew Trisler on second guitar. Honestly, I think of him as the main guitarist as he’s managed to elevate a lot of these songs to a level that my rudimentary playing could not possibly achieve. The things that man can do on 12-string.

So we could call the corners, as all good witches are wont to do, and we started bashing around several of the songs that would comprise a good half of our current set. All of it came from music I had recorded on my own and released in 2012, but playing them live far exceeded the ambitious-but-polite versions I made on my own.

So then it was time to try and play a show…and the world-famous Poplar Lounge (as it is billed) gave us a chance on the 33rd anniversary of Ian Curtis’s suicide and we delivered. We delivered in spite of the PA dying with three songs left to play.

We’ve played there several times since and haven’t blown up any more equipment, so I’m willing to believe it wasn’t our doing. We’ve also played the P&H Cafe and the brand spanking new Hi-Tone. The old songs have matured and grown, and a handful of newer tracks are coming right along.

In October-November of this year, we entered the studio and tracked six songs with Harry Koniditsiotis (of Angel Sluts/Switchblade Kid fame) behind the board. Cap’n Harry definitely shares some aesthetic philosophies with the PGs, and the rough mixes are noisy, spacious, and ambitious. Will it be an EP? An album? Still not sure, to be honest. A lot of that will depend on what YOU want.

Yes, this is about you, too. Commerce aside, there is a romance between the performer and the audience, between the art and the listener’s ear. If you want it, then it needs to happen. That said, it’s a pleasure to have you along for the ride, and we want you to be outspoken and opinionated…we want you to let us champion you as much as you will champion us.  Because let’s face it, if we don’t care about what you think, how can we expect you to care about what we do?

– Jack Pneumatic