Beloved band also playing the Noise Pop festival this week in SF.
San Francisco popsters 20 Minute Loop celebrate 20 years as a band this week with their first new album in eight years. Feb. 24 brings the release of Songs Praising the Mutant Race, and we are honored to premiere a delightfully twisted video for the track “Mercury Vapor” for the ever-erudite BLURT readership. Check it out:
“The video for ‘Mercury Vapor’ was a fun project that I put together using found royalty-free footage from a fire safety video from the early 70s,” says Atkins. “It was fun to imagine the fire in the video as a petulant child singing ‘I don’t care if I die, if I wind up dead!’, one of the lyrics in the song’s chorus.”
The band appears this week—tomorrow, in fact, Feb. 21—at hometown music fest Noise Pop and will no doubt be showcasing a ton of new material (eight years is a long time) from the album, their sixth. But it may sound uniquely familiar at the same time: the album offers up stripped down and reinvented versions of ten favorites from the 20 Minute Loop catalog, one cover song, and one never-before-released tune.
The group was formed in 1997 by Greg Giles (vocals, guitar) and Kelly Atkins (vocals, keys, flute). Fans may have thought they’d gone away for good in recent years, something the band attributes to “impossible scheduling, newborn children, and brain-rotting graduate studies.” (We can identify with all of the above, indeed.)
Inspired by the reactions of longtime fans at a series of intimate house concerts that 20 Minute Loop performed upon initially reforming in 2014, Songs Praising The Mutant Race finds the group recording as a trio in very similar circumstances: live in the room at Ninth Street Opus studios in Berkeley. Here we have the songs and singers laid bare, accompanied by overdubs from mostly acoustic instruments, including viola, trumpet, flute, accordion, wineglass organ, and more. And its one of those longtime fans who has become a co-conspirator: Kevin Seal – “I like Radiohead more than 20 Minute Loop, and that’s basically it,” he jokes – sat in on piano and vocals for the living room shows, and has now joined in on the reinvention of these tunes in the studio. They also brought in Caitlin Tabancay Austin for a third harmony on “Mercury Vapor.”
“I don’t know why this song has a country hop to it,” Giles says, of the reimagined tune, “but let’s just say 20 Minute Loop has always enjoyed mixing jubilant music with lyrical fatalism. I guess we’re syncopating tones, sweet and sour, joy and loneliness, truck axles and eiderdown.”
Incidentally, all us vinyl-loving BLURT folks will be stoked to learn that Songs Praising The Mutant Race to be its first album issued on vinyl, and they are doing it with style. In addition to the usual formats, fans can purchase a beautiful vinyl edition of the album with a jacket illustrated by Sara Lautman.
More details online (hint: don’t go to 20minuteloop.com unless you are needing financial advice – instead, go here): http://www.20minloop.com/