Project Gemini Records
Project Gemini is a record label that uses Weedshare to share music online. They are mostly focused on improvised rock music. Whether it's a studio work or a lo-fi field recording, if it's a great performance, they want to release it. Crier Brothers are a critical part of Project Gemini Records. See below for the story from the label itself. For more on the label and amazing releases, like them on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/projectgeminirecords/
There's a whole philosophy behind the music on Project Gemini, but we try not to obsess on it too much. We figure if the music can't stand on its own, the philosophy behind it really can't be that great.
But we're featuring the Crier Brothers today and that brings up an interesting philosophical question. If you play 100% improvised music and you record something you really like, is it OK to go back and "fix it up" a bit, and turn it into a "musical composition", aka ... a real song?
Our official position on that is that the answer is no, you shouldn't. Why? Well, it seems if you can improvise a great song, you should just keep improvising. You'll keep getting better at it and sooner or later you'll come up with an even better song. Maybe a bunch of them? Why waste time polishing? Anyway, it's a purely philosophical question because the true answer is everybody should just go ahead and do whatever the hell they like.
So, one of the things the Crier Brothers like to do is cover songs by Empire Vista, all of which were originally improvised. On at least three occasions, the Crier Brothers have turned impromptu masterpieces by Empire Vista into songs which they've recorded and played live, multiple times. They even get together and practice playing them, I understand.
This is the first of two posts about the Crier Brothers, which we're publishing on November 5th, in honor of Crier Bro Jason Dennie's birthday. However, even though this post is about the Crier Brothers, our philosophy prohibits us from actually posting the domesticated versions of these pieces. However, it is OK to present the improvised originals from Empire Vista, so that's what we're doing. If you'd like to hear the composed versions that the Crier Brothers have recorded ... you'll find them over here at Reverb Nation (https://www.reverbnation.com/crierbrothers/songs).
The first track is called Start It Again, which was recorded in Philadelphia in July of 2011. It was a really great show for Empire Vista. The band was playing as an out-of-town, unknown opening act at a small club, and the audience wasn't particularly interested when the band took the stage. In the recording of the full show, you can hear the audience chattering away over the band for the first few numbers of their set. But by the time the band unleashed this monster, the audience had started to catch on that something pretty cool was happening. This song sealed the deal and Empire Vista won over the initially indifferent audience.
We're pretty sure they couldn't even tell the band was improvising. The philosophical term for that is "pitching a no-hitter".
Two more tracks in the comments below ...
This is an interesting one ... Sex Club is pretty much a true story about a show the band played at a warehouse in Seattle that happened to be located next door to a sex club. The quality of this recording isn't great, and the performance is pretty sloppy, so the "polished" version the Crier Brothers did is probably better "quality". But this version has all the personality ... http://weedshare.com/q.php?q=437,5
Here's another Empire Vista track that took on a new life when the Crier Brothers covered it. The original title was Sunrise in Her Eyes and it was recorded in Seattle in 2011 with legendary producer Jack Endino. The Crier Bro's renamed it Alaskan Highway, I believe ...
Here's part two of our feature on NYC's Crier Brothers. Quick recap ... The Crier Brothers are a band that's been known to cover an Empire Vista tune every now and then. Not a big surprise, since Jim Barry and Jason Dennie are in both bands. But Empire Vista is all improv, whereas The Crier Brothers are a little more traditional in their approach. And this label is so intensely focused on improvised music, that even in a post about the Crier Brothers, we left out any actual Crier Brothers songs. Instead, we just included the Empire Vista songs that the Bro's took their inspiration from.
If you're into the whole rehearsed music thing, you can follow this link to hear some of their stuff. They're quite good. Again, if you're into that sort of thing ... https://www.reverbnation.com/crierbrothers/songs
Today's post, in honor of an upcoming Empire Vista show in New York on November 18th, is all about the Empire Vista songs we think the Crier Brothers _really ought to_ cover. Yes, even though we have previously expressed our disdain for the misguided effort to turn improv gold into pop music straw, we must, somewhat shamefacedly admit that, in fact ... we do think it's kinda cool. There we said it.
Alright then, now here's the wish list:
1. There's a track that appeared on Empire Vista's 2014 New Horizons release, which came out on the album but was never released as a single until now. It's called "My Friend" and it was recorded live at Otto's Shrunken Head in NYC's Lower East Side. The back story on this track is that it was the first time Steve Enstad played with the EV crew, and the night before the show there was a massive drinking and bonding event, during which Steve became instant best friends with Jim and Jason. When the band played Otto's the next night, friendship was a recurring theme of the evening. It was an excellent show and a great time was had by all. But this song in particular stands out ... it's got something to it. It feels like it's about depression and loss, but it still maintains a hopeful feeling. I'm pretty sure it's about two friends who fight all the time and somehow always manage to patch things up, but I've found it's also an all-purpose go-to track when everything seems to be going into the shitter. Anyway, it's a beautiful song, and I hope the Crier Brothers do a cover someday. And you better not ruin it, my friends.
2. The first recording of Jim Barry playing with Empire Vista dates to June of 2011. We all recognized Jim as a natural pretty much immediately, and the track "Down In The Cavern" is one of the reasons why. Although this recording is of marginal quality, at best, it's easy to catch the two things I really love about this song. First, the refrain "down in the cavern of my mind" is excellent and lends itself to hundreds of lyrics -- sometimes this song gets stuck in my head and I end up making up new lyrics ... I find you can stick that phrase after almost anything. The other thing I love about this song is the ways that the multiple ascending and descending guitar lines subtly and brilliantly interact. Again, the recording is pretty crude, but the underlying material is pure gold and I'd love to hear a "cleaned up" version of this some day. (A link to this song is in the comments below).
3. In the first Crier Brothers post (below), I mentioned a 2011 show that Empire Vista played in Philly, which we all remember fondly for the way the band won over the audience. There are several great tracks from that show, including Start It Again, which is already firmly embedded in the Crier Brothers' repertoire. The track called I Can Barely See came earlier in the set and you can still hear the audience talking amongst themselves and ignoring the band on this one. But this is also one of the songs that broke through and convinced the audience there was something special going on, so it's another one of my favorites. I love the lyrics, but they are very cryptic and I don't have a clue what they're about ... but, of course that's one of the reasons I love this song. Maybe if I can convince the Crier Brothers to cover it, they can figure out what it's about and let me know? (A link to this song is in the comments below).
This concludes our focus on the Crier Brothers ... for now. If you're anywhere near Manhattan, go see their alter egos, Empire Vista Social Club on November 19th. Here's a link to the event: (https://www.facebook.com/events/1738059743122561/).
Down In The Cavern ... http://weedshare.com/p.php?q=11,5
I Can Barely See ... http://weedshare.com/p.php?q=96,5