Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doleful Lions - One summer, on Bandcamp...

It goes without saying that the business model of the brick and mortar record/cd store has been trounced by a myriad of digital outlets which literally hundreds of millions of music listeners are more than welcome to flock to.  Even so, the advent of iTunes already seems a bit passe for some of us with more discriminating tastes, which is where the burgeoning Bandcamp comes into the picture.  The truth of the matter is that iTunes, Emusic, and Amazon downloads function every bit as much of a middle man as do distributors of physical music media.  Bandcamp's approach is downright organic by comparison, in the respect that music is sold directly to fans by the artist on their terms, not on the whims of bottom-line driven record execs. 

The Doleful Lions, admittedly an outfit with a micro-fanbase, are nonetheless a model example of Bandcamp entrepreneurship, who after waiting the better part of a year to release their eighth record (due in no small part to indie label politics) have resigned themselves to delaying a physical release indefinitely, and instead have marketed said album (Let's Break Bobby Beausoleil Out Of Prison!) via the revolutionary portal in question.  For the meager sum of $6.66 Let's Break... can be permanently ensconced in that warehouse of ones and zeroes you call your hard drive, iPod, or perhaps even an MP3 player of another sort.  In addition to the new full length, the Lions (actually pared down to one full time member at this point, Jonathan Scott), have been so enthused about this new outlet, they're selling digital files of their first album, 1998's Mitch Easter produced Motel Swim, plus an album's worth of outtakes, alternate versions and live tracks (What Was On The Floor Of Jonathan's Car- And How It Got There).  There's even a companion ep to the new album, Lucifer, The Light, free for the taking I might add, that offers acoustic versions of three primo album cuts and another trio of otherwise unavailable songs exclusive to this collection.  To get a better handle on the Doleful Lions in general, here are a few morsels I penned in a brief article for issue 68 of Big Takeover magazine:

A Doleful Lions song can manifest itself in the form of a hissy 4-track demo, benign and consoling as a lullaby, or it can come in the guise of a dense, fever-dream swirl of amped-out psychedelic rock and them some.  There are a myriad of shades teaming in between these extremes, but frontman Jonathan Scott imbues his songs with indelible melodies that are as winsome as his prose is often puzzlingly surreal.  The Doleful Lions story begins in earnest in 1997, when Jonathan relocated from Chicago to Chapel Hill, NC where he began mailing demos to scores of indie labels who specifically advertised in this very publication.  Comprised of several alternating lineups, five Lions albums ensued, as did two collections of endearing lo-fi bedroom recordings, Song Cyclops Vols. 1 & 2, all surfacing on the Champaign, IL based Parasol Records.  He has since uprooted back to the Prairie State, specifically the southwest Chicago suburb of Plano.

Jonathan has no magic formula to reveal regarding his heightened melodic astuteness, the quality of which rivals that of the Apples in Stereo or Alien Lanes-era Guided By Voices.  “I’m constantly playing with chord progressions and singing.  I should have a recorder on all the time ‘cos I come up with stuff all day long.”  Nonetheless, on Beausolelil … he weaves a staggering array of hooks together on a mile-high loom, yielding a sublime musical tapestry with exemplary cuts like “Deadbeat at Dawn,” and “Funeral Skies For Burst Patriot,“ ranking among his finest. 

Tracks:

A Viper In Hiding (from Motel Swim)
Deadbeat at Dawn (from Let's Break Bobby Beausoleil Out Of Prison!)
Julie's Video (acoustic, from Lucifer the Light ep)
Sun-Hawk City (Not Ian Stuart, Robert Scott Version) (from What Was on the Floor...)

2 comments:

Bryan said...

This is so great. I mean, I don't know if I will buy any of this particular music, but just the idea of having it vetted in any way is fantastic. I love the idea of Bandcamp so much, and it's led me to plenty of great things, but it's so vast and unmanageable most of the time I just feel overwhelmed and just give up. Do more of this. This I command.

spavid said...

I've actually been racking my brains out trying to think of bands/artists I enjoy who might be sharing previously unreleased or rare goods on Bandcamp. We'll see, but something tells me I'm in for some more pleasant surprises.