Listen To Hunter Release Party

HunterAppeared in Hippo Press 12 April 2018

Three years ago, Hunter was a young,  hungry band  looking to conquer the world. They’re older now, but still determined. They are wiser, however. The precociousness of their eponymous debut has morphed into maturity on Listen to Hunter, a new album to be released April 13. 

Sheeny three part harmonies and complex rhythm structures served on a pop platter mark the album. “Anchor (I Refuse to Sink)” opens the 10-track collection, and reflects the resolve of band members Hunter Stamas, Connor Coburn and Cameron Gilhooly. It dares any force, be it a harsh music business or natural disaster, to deter their quest.

“I think we’re pushing even harder now,” Stamas said in a recent group interview. “We definitely still have spunk.”

Yes – despite the slog of sleeping in vans and driving for hours between clubs, a planned summer tour will be Hunter’s most ambitious yet. “Coast to coast, thirty dates, all along the Midwest into California, even the West Coast of Canada, then down into the South and back to New England,” Coburn said. “It will be a big, juicy loop.”

The Listen To Hunter release party, happening at Nashua’s Bounty Room, is also set to be a pull out the stops affair. “It’s like a wedding for pretty much all of us,” Stamas said. “We’ve put so much work into writing it,and the artwork itself took so long, along with the videos that are going to be released … this one will be celebrated.”

The trio will be rounded out by the latest in a series of itinerant bassists; he joined earlier this year. The group goes through bass players like Spinal Tap drummers, though fortunately not for the same reason. 

“We knew that from day one it was the three of us,” Stamas explained. “Every bassist was a hired gun after the first two; the were friends, and that didn’t work out – we needed someone to play better and be able to travel. But the writing has always been us. We knew that from the day we formed in 2014.”

It’s often said that a band has a lifetime to come up with its first record, but the second is a sprint. Not so with Hunter, who   began writing songs soon after its debut, then frequently got waylaid. “We’re serial procrastinators,” Coburn said. “I think the first album came together relatively quickly. This new one we wanted to focus on making it more consistent.”

Gilhooly echoed those sentiments. “Everything we’ve done is a lot more intentional and thought out,” he said. “The last album was good, but it just came together on its own.”

Thematically, it toggle between Sixties pop influences – “Beach Party” sounds just like its title – and 90s alt-rock, on cuts like “Queen of the Tree Streets,” which evokes Alanis Morissette when Stamas croons, “you’re all I ever wanted/I’m sorry I used to be such a bitch.” 

For the first time, Stamas yields lead vocals to her mates. Connor sings the moody, harmony-rich “Too Many Seasons” and Gilhooly is in front on the power pop romp, “Good Deed of the Day.”

Indicative of the new disc’s long gestation is the the final track, “Ballad of An Enigma.” Stamas wrote it immediately in the wake of their debut, and it grew from there. Collectively driven by a mutual infatuation with the first King Crimson album, the three shaped it into a six-minute epic.  

Coburn introduced them to the 60s prog-rock masters. “He brought the album around and I was like, ‘we suck’ – how can we do that?” Stamas said. “They jammed on it after a while, and they’re geniuses. They created the instrumental section.”

As Stamas sings, “I always knew that I’d be different, be different,” before wrapping the record back around to the start  with a line from track one, Gilhooly does double duty on guitar and bass (as he did on the entire album). It’s Coburn’s drumming, however, that takes “Enigma” into the far reaches, to a place they  could not have gone as teenagers.  

“I never stop flying,” Coburn said. “It’s just an endless fill.”

BOX ME

Hunter CD Release Show

When: Friday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Bounty, 9 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua

Tickets: $5 – facebook.com/HunterBandOfficial

Advertisements

Kim Richey – From The Edge

0Critically lauded yet commercially neglected, Kim Richey emerged in the early 1990s as similar singer songwriters were perplexing the musical public. Richey’s genre, whose Patient Zero was the 70s fan who found Linda Ronstadt before she teamed with Peter Asher and stuck with her after, would ultimately acquire a name – Americana. 

The moniker helped artists like Shawn Colvin and Sheryl Crow become headliners, with record sales to match.  Richey  forever bubbled under, but based on her body of work, she’s arguably she was the best of the bunch. Bitter Sweet, released in  1996, is a masterpiece, from the Beatlesque twang of “I Know” to the pure gem “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)” – the latter a big hit for Trisha Yearwood.

Five more albums made over the following two decades were equally stellar, featuring production from the likes of XTC’s Hugh Padgham and rock royal Giles Martin. Making a case for her as a musician’s musician, 2013’s Thorn in My Heart included a Jason Isbell co-lead vocal (with her old pal Yearwood on harmony) on the brilliant track, “Breakaway Speed.”

Richey’s latest, Edgeland, is among her best. The title alludes to the confusion that’s dogged her career. “For me, it’s the place or spaces in between where the country kind of meets the city,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Places where I have always been the most comfortable, and where my music lands. No one knows what to do with me. Is it country?  Folk? Pop?  And I think as a person I am more comfortable in those middle places, too.”

“Your Dear John Letter” is a love song wrapped in a working man’s lament that Bruce Springsteen might have penned had he lived in 1930s. It’s one of new record’s standouts. Another is “Not For Money or Love” – it was written about Richey’s father, who died when she was four. 

The song’s evocative opening lines – “I was a young man the day that I drowned, I was married with one on the way” – came to her during a co-writing session with Harry Hoke. “I never wrote about my Dad,” she said.  “It just came into my head and I said, ‘well okay, I guess I am writing about this now.’” 

She built the song’s story around a newspaper clipping given to her by a cousin. “It was mysterious;  they could not figure out what had happened,” she said. “He had been out on a boat with a bunch of other people … one guy decided to swim back to shore, and my dad did the same.   One guy made it; my dad never did.  Lot of questions about that … once I started, it was just really easy to write.”  

Richey grew up in Ohio, and has traveled the world. In a press release for Edgeland, she described having her belongings in  storage, her life a “state of constant motion.” During the interview, she was in Vancouver; the week before was spent at an artist colony in Banff.  She’s lived in England, California, Nashville, Australia, and other far flung places. But her  spirit of wanderlust wasn’t about leaving the Midwest. 

“Ohio has never been a place for me to get out of, but I always knew there was more out there,” she said. “I think that came from reading.   I was the first person to go to college in my family and of course that opened up a lot of doors.   I was a reluctant traveler at first, because I remember when I was a kid, somebody new would come to the school and I always thought that would be the worst thing in the world …  go someplace where you didn’t know anyone.”

An accidental trip to Europe was the spark; a group of her friends applied to work in a Swedish summer camp; only she got accepted.  When the stint ended a few weeks early, she hung around because she didn’t know how to change her  flight reservation. “I had never been on a plane before,” she said. “I ended up hitchhiking around for a month on my own … as scary as that was, I thought, ‘well, I can do just about anything.’ Now, the more places I see, the more I want to see.” 

At an upcoming show in Portsmouth, Richey will perform with a trio. “It’s usually me and a guitar player and now we have someone coming along to pay bass,” she said. “He’s a really beautiful singer, so you have three of us singing …  I try to play new and old songs.”

More:

Kim Richey

When: Sunday, April 15, 7 p.m.

Where: The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St., Portsmouth

Tickets: $22 at themusichall.org