Much-anticipated followup to his 2017 single is due in July via Omnivore. Watch the album trailer, below.
By Fred Mills
When we get word of activity stirring in the Peter Holsapple camp – could be some dB’s- or Continental Drifters-related news, or a new project that he and his fellow Winston-Salem expat Chris Stamey are cooking up, or a session- and side-man gig he has in motion, or even the release of last year’s wonderful 7-inch 45 “Don’t Mention the War” (reviewed HERE; ask me about the private thrill I got on Memorial Day when I heard the song coming over the airwaves from the local community radio station doing a Memorial Day-themed program) – we genuinely get excited here at the BLURT hostel. Pretty much everyone on the staff counts him- or herself a fan of the gentleman and his instinctive approach to hook-filled pop, and that appreciation of his music goes way, way back indeed. (Ask me about The H-Bombs sometime.)
So when the news arrived, out of the blue on social media, that a new solo full-length from Peter, his first in over two decades, was coming in July via the Omnivore label, it was welcome word indeed. As I commented last year about the “DMTW” single, “Holsapple recently [said] that he opted for doing a single because he wasn’t quite sure he should thrust a full album’s worth of new material into the market, given music consumers’ relatively short attention spans and tendency to favor tracks over albums nowadays.”
Obviously, he decided that the short-attention-span syndrome was worth challenging; ditto Omnivore, which has steadily carved out a spot for itself as one of the most respected, eye-for-detail, indie record labels on the planet. (Just check out its Big Star-related catalog of releases.) The release date of Game Day is July 27, and Omnivore describes it thusly:
Game Day contains 13 new tracks, a bonus track, and two “super bonus tracks”—Holsapple’s critically acclaimed single “Don’t Mention the War” b/w ”Cinderella Style,” originally released in 2017. [Holsapple explains], “After putting the single out on my own last year, I made the decision to put out an album. Some tunes are brand new, some have been in rotation for a bit, but all are worthy. My ‘middle-aged Pet Sounds fantasy’ is real, with the issues of middle age put to memorable melodies. The old guy at work in ‘Tuff Day,’ watching my parents’ place get cleared out in ‘Inventory,’ a decades-late thank-you note to a college girlfriend in ‘Commonplace’—they’re all a part of the present-day me.”
Game Day is prime Holsapple, whose recording career spans nearly five decades. It contains all the hooks, clever lyrics, and deft instrumentation one would expect. As he paraphrases Jeff Beck in the packaging, “Today, with all of the hard competition in the music business, it’s almost impossible to come up with anything totally original. So I haven’t, but I had a lot of fun making Game Day, and I hope it comes through when you hear it.”
Peter elaborates at his popular blog, noting that he did it completely by himself in his home basement studio in Durham, NC, and calling it “absolutely the record I wanted to make. People will undoubtedly hear it and scratch their heads and say it sounds weird and eccentric, at least I hope so. I can’t say I’m a professional producer or engineer, and indeed, a lot of stuff went down on the album by necessity or lack of fundamental tools. I was not going to let those things or any ineptitude or lack of skill stop me from getting this done, so you’re getting a shank of my mind and soul, trussed up to look like an album of songs… It doesn’t sound like records or bands I’ve been involved with before. In past instances, I’ve allowed the opinions of my work to twist my emotions into rattails, but this album is different: I own it all. Every note. Every flub. Every effect on every guitar. It’s my pleasure, it’s my fault. I feel completely at ease with it, something I’ve never felt with a record before.”
He adds that plans are afoot to take some of these new songs – titles can be viewed at the above link for Omnivore – out on the road as the Peter Holsapple Combo with dB’s drummer Will Rigby and bassist Glenn Richard Jones, who he’s been playing with for some time in the Kinks/Ray Davies-centric outfit Well Respected Men. They might even work up some primo dB’s and Continental Drifters material, along with “choice covers” (I’m voting for The Move and The Nazz—maybe even the stray H-Bombs number) for the live shows, so you, gentle readers, have been warned.
Game on, Peter.