It’s still summer. Is there a more hopeful phrase? Let it sink in, but let it sink quickly, because it’s only true for a short while longer. Today is the vernal equinox, which brings with it shorter days, colder nights, and a hemisphere slowly dying into the deep sleep of winter. But this day of transition also brings us the warmly autumnal “debut” effort from The Lowlifes. I use quotes here as it is a debut in name only: The Lowlifes is a project spring-boarded from two members of Matt Pond PA, who in various incarnations have put out ten full-length albums and several EPs over the last two decades. Pond, bucking his Pennsylvania post-script, recently purchased a home in the artistically blooming Hudson River Valley of New York, a region that only fully comes alive in these late summer and early fall afternoons. The setting seems to have yielded a healthy and bountiful harvest for Pond and longtime collaborator Chris Hansen, as they only just released the album The State Of Gold under the Matt Pond PA moniker in June of this year.
This new effort, titled Still Summer, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Fury, is, in many ways, an equinox for Pond and Hansen as creative partners. The decision to release this project under an entirely different name (“The Lowlifes” came to them after a recent experience with US/Canadian border patrol, in which it was clear what the officers considered Pond to be when he told them his chosen profession was “musician”) is a decision rooted in intention, like leaving behind an empty bedroom as you move from your hometown, or tearing a page off your desk calendar, balling it up and throwing it in the trash. Both the end, and the beginning of something. Change. But a change that holds more weight than others like it in the past.
“I’ve begun to feel like my whole musical life is an out-of-body experience,” Pond states. “I just keep following along because it’s the role I’m supposed to play. But I needed to alter reality with a name and perspective change. It might bring clarity to the cloudiness.” Stylistically, the album harkens to Pond’s precision in sweetly voiced songwriting that he has laid claim to throughout his prolific career; layers of clean acoustics and fuzzy leads, with simply minimal slap-backed percussion, as well as thick, Jeff Mangum-esque field recorded soundscapes that set the scene of standing in a backyard, in the dark, after too much bourbon. The songs themselves swell like late-era Replacements or first-album Big Star. There is a feeling of resign and release in the album’s ten tracks that has not previously been present in Pond’s output. Almost like it has become easier to process a loss when you stop struggling against it, and allow an ending to fully envelop you.
Mike Campbell plays bass for Laura Stevenson, who will be touring alongside Matt Pond PA this fall (tour dates below). Listen to Still Summer, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Fury below and pre-order it here.
Wed/Oct-14 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
Thu/Oct-15 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Fri/Oct-16 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
Sat/Oct-17 Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
Sun/Oct-18 Tampa, FL – New World Brewery
Mon/Oct-19 Orlando, FL – The Social
Wed/Oct-21 New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues Lounge
Thu/Oct-22 Houston, TX – Rudyards
Fri/Oct-23 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
Sat/Oct-24 Austin, TX – The North Door
Mon/Oct-26 Phoenix, AZ – The Rebel Lounge
Wed/Oct-28 San Diego, CA – The Casbah
Thu/Oct-29 Los Angeles, CA – Echo
Fri/Oct-30 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brewing Co.
Sat/Oct-31 Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
Sun/Nov-01 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
Tue/Nov-03 Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
Wed/Nov-04 Portland, OR – Dante’s
Fri/Nov-06 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
Sat/Nov-07 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
Mon/Nov-09 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
Tue/Nov-10 St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
Thu/Nov-12 Chicago, IL – Subterranean
Fri/Nov-13 Nashville, TN – The High Watt
Sat/Nov-14 Akron, OH – Musica
Mon/Nov-16 Newport, KY – Southgate House Revival
Tue/Nov-17 Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe
Wed/Nov-18 Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry @ Fillmore
Thu/Nov-19 Boston, MA – Middle East Downstairs
Fri/Nov-20 Kingston, NY – BSP Kingston
Sat/Nov-21 New York, NY – Webster Hall Marlin Room