lonnie eugene methe - "hey jack plus six other songs"
lonnie eugene methe has been a vital purponent in the sub-underground music industry since the early days of the home recording tape label boom in the early/mid 1990's. since those days he has gone in many diffrent directions, everything from the damaged art failure of ARNOUX, to the simple heartfelt pop of LUX-O-VALUES. for "HEY JACK" methe returns to form, utilizing guitar and piano for a set of boombox fidelity sketches and ballads. these empty room sessions were captured back in his home town of omaha, nebraska and comment on the bleak winter to come, as well, expressed poetic yearnings for the spring that never may. limited to 300 copies.
"white lilac longing"
"wounds of winter"
Chris, from the long running Unread Records sent his latest single from Lonnie Eugene Methe to the 7inches NY office and I'm grateful as always. Turns out he's got a bunch of limited edition lathe's coming out soon and a flexi disc/book series! I'm going to hopefully get him on the phone to talk about these upcoming releases and what he's been up to the past 5 years or so releasing whatever strikes him in Baltimore.
This recording just aches sadness from the needle drop. It's reflecting this hard hard winter most of the east coast is increasingly finding itself in these days. A premonition of what I'm sitting in, and just made it out of a few days ago.
Maybe it's the huge room piano sound, or just the mic catching a breath a little too close, not many people can get away with this kind of outpouring of emotion, but Lonnie pulls it off easily without any vocal or musical gimmicks. Stripped down songwriting...just good writing period. Thankfully the lyrics are reproduced on the reverse sleeve because he's got a knack for this heartbreaking narrative. It's laid out, not too cleverly, just simply in a way you wish you could.
In 'Calendar Work', lines about never ending time and physical work...in such a beautiful way. I think that's what can ultimately get you through the overwhelming sadness, is the simple arrangement, and sincerity. It has to be heard...you'll make it through. Like Bill Callahan, but in a higher vulnerable register, they are classic reminiscences of the mundane. It's not a grandiose statement of the state of things...it's a note on a napkin, a scratch on the wall of the bathroom. The everyday...and those are the things that can be the most illuminating.
Turns out a couple of years ago now Chris sent Outer Space Gamelan (a damn good site that I still miss) a cassette release from Methe and he had this light to shed on the mysterious performer:
The legend here is that Christopher Fischer moved into Lonnie Eugene Methe
(of a band called Naturaliste - know em? I don't)'s old house and found a tape in
the rafters of the house and persuaded Methe to let him release it.
'Wounds of Winter' has an extra layer of tape hiss, and pop, from a boombox or 4-Track in Omaha but when you capture something like this, none of that matters. It can't be duplicated, it's an imperfect snapshot and you fill in the rest of the blanks. The room he's in, the at a weather outside, if it's the middle of the night, or early morning...but it's far away from anything.
That's what kills me about Neon Indian or Dan Deacon etc, the weird forced feeling of fun. It could exist at party , in the background and it wouldn't bother me, in fact it would sound right at home...and live it creates a feel of having a good time...but I think that's what's suspect, the forced soundtrack to a party. I guess I don't feel like a one man party, so this doesn't ever get played at home when I want to study something, really let it sink in. It's a distraction and I think, I don't want to watch Die Hard again...where's the documentaries?
There's no better way to experience the intimacy of an acoustic personal project like this...just don't expect to feel better about anything when it's over.
Myth or not, I'm super glad this made it to 7 inch vinyl, the most intimate human scale format for just 5$ PPD from Chris at unreadrecords (at) hotmail.com. - jason dean (7 inches blog)
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Testing the limits of vinyl recording reproduction, home 4-track recording, tuning and general lo-fi ness we have a 7 track EP. No song is over 2 and a half minutes, most barely scratch 90 seconds, and each is fragile, well-written and beautiful. Voice, guitar and piano all combine over brief snippets of longing, decay and smashed dreams. The feedback created at the end of each side as the stylus refuses to eject is also interesting. I bet that was meant as well. As I listen to the songs, I’m reminded of Grandaddy, Eels and Darren Hayman. All songs are simple and all lyrics are crafted. The bloody thing came protectedly wrapped in a gin bottle box – how many more recommendations do you need? - tasty fanzine
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Lonnie Eugene Methe, an acoustic guitar, and a piano account for these seven heartfelt lo-fi ballads, which hit with an understated wistfulness that is distinctly reminiscent of early Bill Callahan work. This is particularly evident on the mopey, intensely Wild Love-esque piano track, “Calendar Work,” which comes replete with cryptic metaphorical lyrics. As an early-era Smog fan myself, you won't hear me complaining, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Methe's striking poetic talent, as well as his impressive mastery of bare-boned, downtrodden songwriting. Beautifully lovelorn “Auburn Dances” and “Katherine” exude a Chan Marshall-esque juxtaposition of simplicity and emotional introspection, making for perfect quiet evening listening. Meanwhile, title-track “Hey Jack” is a brilliant, distinctly Midwestern tale of regret and stagnancy, and no doubt this record's finest achievement. Methe doesn't have Callahan's unique voice, nor quite his level of melodic potency, but this record is nevertheless an admirable – and very recommendable – lo-fi treasure. - indieville
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This could have been recorded directly into a computer or it could have been recorded directly into one of those $30 Tascam analog 2-tracks that fooled many-a-90’s hack into believing they were a bedroom Albini. Thin, but the songwriting is there on three or four out of the seven, and when it’s not there, at least it’s replaced by the aural implication that it COULD be there. A guy, a bedroom, a guitar, and whatever he recorded this on. Oh, and a probable cavalcade of age-appropriate lady friends in and out of that room. Each song feels like it’s about a different girl. I looked at this record, noticing the brevity and other slapdash qualities, and my MEDIOCRIDAR began automatically fine-tuning its settings. This record is charming and from the gut and impossible to dislike, so there was no use for it. You know, the word “MEDIOCRIDAR” does not set off spell-check. Still mine to keep. - STILL SINGLE (Andrew Earles)
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Methe has a long history of playing with other folks (Mountain Goats, Simon Joyner, Ed Gray) and on a few thousand cassette only releases (Naturaliste, Arnoux, under his own name), but this is his first record under his name. It has gotten lots of spins, and that might be no big deal to you, but, considering this is "singer/songwriter" stuff, it is a big deal to me. Simple, understated songs done with mostly just guitar or piano and hushed voice, Hey Jack reminds me a bit of Johnny Thunders' Hurt Me album. As good? Nah, Hurt Me is a fucking classic. Still, Hey Jack keep returning to the record player and it has me eager to hear more. --SS / Z-GUN