Posts Tagged ‘wild kindness’

Stutter Steps at Starts With a Birthstone

Although almost sixty years in, most of the best names in Rock and Roll have been taken, it still seems inadvisable to opt for certain ones if you’re embarking on a career hoping for an enduring career, lasting fame and more importantly, in the world we’re living in, internet hits.
Stutter Steps are a case in point. Though I doubt whether any of those objectives are of the remotest concern to them. Taking their name from a manoeuvre in Tennis, Basketball or American Football, references to this are likely to land at the top of a Google search before you come upon mentions of the group itself and their debut album, also called Stutter Steps released a couple of months back.
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Stutter Steps at Without My Echo

Unarguably the most exciting new band in my ears these last few weeks. I’ve been obsessing over this song in a way that’s untypical even for me (and I’m known for putting songs on repeat). Stutter Steps’ self-titled debut is out today via Wild Kindness Records. Do yourself a favour and enjoy this warm, melodious indiepop.


Stutter Steps, American Culture, Fireworks at Austin Town Hall

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Stutter Steps at Did Not Chart

This album is gloriously crisp and sweetly melodic. It’s got Big Star’s jangling desperation (every last song), Quasi’s quirky keyboard stylings (Backyard Charm), and country-rock melancholy (Go On).
Stutter Steps jangle incessantly with, you know, proper guitar solos right through this album like only The Bats can do. They trade in neat psychedelic tricks (Jeff Baron of Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor is on board, so really what did you expect) and intense romance. And they kick out the jams on Maple Leaf just because they can.
Dean Wareham plays on Fog because it’s anthemic and ringing. And because you would if you were asked to.


Stutter Steps at When You Motor Away

Ben Harrison’s regular job is as a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh where, among other things, he is responsible for booking musicians to perform at the venue.  To do a job like that well, one needs to have good taste, and a good sense of what fits.  It appears that Mr. Harrison has those traits.  But in addition, Harrison is himself a musician.  He played in a band years ago, and has continued to write songs while working and raising two children with his wife.  And he now has made the commitment to step up a level, and record and release his songs under the name Stutter Steps.

The self-titled album, in my opinion, is one of the better debut releases this year.  Our curator/musician has drawn from his bands like Yo Ya Tengo, Velvet Underground, Luna, The Bats, and Bill Callahan to make an album of evocative melodies and satisfying guitar textures.  But Harrison isn’t just making a patchwork quilt of worthy influences.  He is blending them together to make his own statement via a warm and instantly familiar set of songs.  Sometimes sounding recalling New Zealand post-punk, sometimes The Feelies or Galaxie 500, and sometimes a bit of dusty Americana.  And then, there are the vocals.  Ben has a gravelly but melodic baritone that brings to mind DIY godfather Calvin Johnson.  When paired with the female vocals from Cindy Yogmas, the result is magic.  You don’t have to have been a fan of Beat Happening to celebrate this pairing, but it will make your appreciation that much greater.

In addition to Yogmas, Harrison fleshed out the songs with Jeff Baron (Essex Green/Ladybug Transistor) on guitar.  Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500/Luna/Dean and Britta) also contributed guitar for the recording.  The recording band included Sean Finn (drums), David Horn (bass), who with Harrison, Yogmas and Phil Jacoby (guitar), form the band for live shows.


Stutter Steps at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If you’ve been to concerts at The Andy Warhol Museum, you may be familiar with the man who has been curating these prestigious indie artists for the past 15 years.

He introduces the shows, but now he’s doing something different at the mic: presenting his own music as the singer-guitarist for Stutter Steps.

Stutter Steps isn’t a real band, exactly, and it’s going to perform for a limited time only, which might be only one show. However, Stutter Steps has a made a debut album, in the vein of such bands as Luna, the Go-Betweens and the Feelies, that is already bringing the band national attention.

The self-titled album’s nine songs have been in the works for 15 years, but more as a hobby for Meadville-area native Harrison, who’s been juggling his role at the Warhol with raising a family with two kids. In the early ‘00s, he was part of the short-lived indie-pop/twee-pop trio Tourister that didn’t play here much but put out a singles and did some touring, including playing the Detroit Pop Festival.

In the fall of 2012, with his kids getting older (now 7 and 9) and his wife, a printmaker, having finished an exhibit, “she kind of said ‘It’s your turn,’ ” he says.

“Not like I had any delusions that I would quit my job and go tour,” he remarks of the opportunity, “but I always wanted to make a proper studio album, with an engineer and a producer.”

Part of his inspiration came from interacting with two of his musical heroes, Dean Wareham and partner Britta Phillips (both of Luna), whom the Warhol commissioned for “13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.”

“Getting to know them, being on tour with them, being around that project, seeing how they wrote songs for those films, I was really inspired by that project.”

Ladybug Transistor/Essex Green guitarist Jeff Baron, who was living in Pittsburgh for a time, suggested he work with Ladybug founder Gary Olson, who in turn agreed to produce the record in a bucolic, wooded cabin in the Laurel Highlands rather than in his Brooklyn studio. They recorded the album there with singer Cindy Yogmas, bassist David Horn and drummer Sean Finn (The Red Western), with Mr. Baron emailing his tasty lead guitar parts from his home in Vermont.

Once it was mixed at Marlborough Farms studio in Brooklyn, Mr. Harrison says, “I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I just wanted the experience. Jeff said, ‘This is really good. You should try to release it.’ ”

That’s where the Pittsburgh-based Wild Kindness entered the picture, agreeing to release the album even though Stutter Steps was more a studio creation than a band.

Far from sounding like a vanity project or some dad’s weekend hobby, it’s an irresistibly catchy guitar-pop record — alternately dreamy and driving — that fits alongside the Velvets, Feelies and Go-Betweens. The album eases in with the relaxed song “Fog,” inspired by the autumn scenes of Julianne Moore in “Far From Heaven,” and by the end, it’s clicking on all cylinders with the left-of-the-dial radio gem “Go On.” Mr. Harrison, who is also a fan of Bill Callahan and Stephin Merritt, has an unpolished voice and a dry, honest delivery that gets better with every listen and Ms. Yogmas provides gorgeous harmonies.

Magnet has praised “Fog,” which includes a slide guitar part from Mr. Wareham, as an “organic and breezy indie tune” and Austin Town Hall trumpeted Stutter Steps as “a new band to adore.”

Again, “band” is a tricky word here, as the release show on Saturday could be a one-off. Ms. Yogmas is flying in from San Francisco to appear and Mr. Baron will be replaced by Phil Jacoby from Sleep Experiments.

Asked about pulling together a live show with limited rehearsal, Mr. Harrison laughs and says, “It’s not like we’re doing free jazz.”


Stutter Steps at Performer

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Stutter Steps at Austin Town Hall

If I haven’t told you guys how much I cherish the new album from Stutter Steps then perhaps I’ve made a huge mistake. The self-titled record is one of the few records that came across my desk this year that just didn’t fit in with the normal fare…in a good way. On this new track, you get a nice male versus female duel on the vocals, almost so perfect in its execution that the tune could survive without music. But, there’s this jangling indie rock approach by the band, bringing the song forward and pushing the energy fully behind the vocals. You can grab this album next week fromWild Kindness Records…and you’ll be wise to do so.


Stutter Steps at Big Takeover

Wistful, jangling, quietly anthemic, “Set Radio Clock” is the second single off Stutter Steps’ self-titled debut on Wild KIndness Records. The Pittsburgh-based band, formed by vocalist and guitarist Ben Harrison with local musicians including Jeff Baron of The Essex Green and Ladybug Transistor (the current line up includes drummer Sean Finn,David Horn on bass, guitarist Phil Jacoby, and Cindy Yogmas on vocals and keyboards), embraces “the Velvet Underground’s third album…the New Zealand jangle of The Bats and The Clean [and] the bittersweet wistfulness of Polaris“ as inspiration. Indie-pop nerds and record-store clerks, pay heed!


Stutter Steps at Innocent Words

Everything around us is chaos, panic, and impending disaster. But Ben Harrison is keeping it cool. The debut self-titled album from his band, Stutter Steps doesn’t spit in the face of death—it gives death a warm hug and invites it inside for a game of Scrabble. Ten songs of sadness and bliss, Stutter Steps is a glorious, vital addition to the indie pop canon.

Most Americans imagine Pittsburgh as some kind of rusted out steel factory, but it’s actually one of the more beautiful cities in the country, a stunning blend of rivers and hills dropped in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains. If Stutter Steps sounds like it emerged fully formed from its natural surroundings, that’s because it did. Recorded over a few days at a lodge in the Laurel Highlands, you can hear the mist and the mystical all over the record.

By day, Harrison works at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, where he spends his days curating and dreaming. Given access to the complete collection of Warhol’s famous Screen Tests, approximately 500 silent film portraits he made of people who came to his studio, Harrison began inviting his favorite musicians to provide a soundtrack. Two of them, Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna—and who contributes slide guitar to “The Fog”) and Britta Phillips (Luna), became so enmeshed in the project that they created 13 Most Beautiful, a multi-media project which they, along with Harrison, have performed all over the world. Drowned In Sound called it “one of the most exhilarating audio visual creations conjured up in many a year.”

Harrison took inspiration from his day job, Mr. Warhol and the members of Luna to create his debut album. Now, Innocent Words is proud to premiere the debut single “Volumes” from Harrison’s Stutter Steps.

“I suppose lyrically, I often like to try to describe elements of isolated scenes or situations, loosely inspired by scenes or cinematography from films that leave an impression on me.” Harrison said of the single. “I try to be spare, using as few words as possible to conjure some imagery to reflect those moments. With the song “Volumes,” I partly took inspiration from Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” with scenes featuring fuzzy lights of Tokyo’s skyline as a backdrop and the characters sense of being in dreamlike, disconnected, and desperate states with waning celebrity status.”