Ken Stringfellow Soft Commands (Yep Roc)
Posies co-founder, R.E.M. cohort and Big Star confederate Ken Stringfellow is deep into his second decade of creating sterling pop music. Soft Commands is his third solo release of intricately arranged, intimate songs that mine Bacharach, Bread, the Beach Boys and at least one Beatle (McCartney, of course). Written and recorded all over the world, from Seattle to Senegal, the album unfolds like a travelogue, with spartan piano ballads in between mini-symphonies with a few surprise stops along the way, like Stringfellow’s baroque mandolin on “Any Love,” the brisk electronic rhythm underneath “For Your Sake” and the blue-eyed soul-steeped “Let Me Do.” Occasionally, the multi-instrumentalist gets a bit precious (the Doors-y darkness of “Je Vous En Prie,” the dub experiment of “Dawn of the Dub of the Dawn” and the boy’s choir and reggae verses of “You Become the Dawn”), but Stringfellow’s clear, composed croon forgives all sins.
Ken’s new album Soft Commands is released today in the US and Canada on YepRoc.
Down in the Delta
The Heart and Soul of Memphis Recording
By Rick Clark
Memphis is a town of contradictions, a seemingly illogical place where nothing seems to happen and a lot of things are happening at once. More than a million people live in the area, yet it feels like no one’s in a hurry and they’ll arrive in their own time.
The music that has come out of the River City has in many ways changed the world, thanks to iconoclasts, renegades and dreamers such as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart, who started Stax Records (Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding), Willie Mitchell and his Hi Records label (Al Green), Quinton Claunch of Goldwax (O.V. Wright, The Ovations) and John Fry of Ardent (Big Star, Cargoe). So much important music has come out of Memphis that it is easy to overlook fresh, new homegrown talent such as the North Mississippi Allstars, hard-rockers Saliva and hip hop act Three 6 Mafia…
Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Ken Stringfellow and Bill Wells.
I am looking pretty good, equipment wise (some say this hawaiian shirt i have on *also* looks good) –still coming up short for keys (see other posts for what i’m looking for) in Chapel Hill and Cleveland (see tour dates). For all the other folks that have come thru, I humbly thank you! Ohioans, I needs you!
ile de re FRANCE
“This is the show where I debuted much of the Soft Commands material. It was an emotional night. This year at SXSW, I was doing it all hours, full speed,” Ken says.
“The Posies played electric and acoustic sets, Big Star performed and I played several solo sets plus accompanied Robyn Hitchcock (twice) and John Roderick from the Long Winters.
“I was influenced by my fatigue and by wherever I was in my life at that point. Anyway, somehow, when I played these songs, I had a lot to release, and many mysterious and deep sentiments were attached to the erformances, hopping on as stowaways, making it sometimes difficult to proceed without being overwhelmed, but all in all it was an intense set.”
July 27 @ the Room, Charlotte NC
by John Sakamoto
9. KEN STRINGFELLOW, “Don’t Die”: Like the best of Stringfellow’s post-Posies output, this galloping anti-war statement has so much going on within its deceptively rigid pop-song structure, it takes three listens just to get your bearings. The militaristic rhythms are draped with swaths of orchestration, the lyrics rhyme da Vinci and Medici, and yet somehow it all comes together in the end. (From Soft Commands, www.kenstringfellow.com, out July 13)
All pre-orders placed before the street date of 7/13 will receive a handmade CD of Ken’s performance from this year’s South by Southwest. It was the debut of many of the songs from “Soft Commands” and a special night. While supplies last, order now!
Content should be fully up and running in the next week or so.