Power Pop Icons Shoes Return w/New LP!

 

First all-new album of material in
18 years from the Zion, Ill., combo.

 

By Blurt
Staff

 

 

Aug. 14
should be a banner date for power pop aficionados: that’s when the legendary
Shoes – bassist-vocalist John Murphy, guitarist-vocalist Jeff Murphy, and
guitarist-vocalist Gary Klebe, plus longtime stage drummer John Richardson –
will unveil Ignition, their
first record since 1994. Per tradition, it will be released on the group’s own
Black Vinyl Records imprint (longtime fans will recall that the Shoes’ classic ’77
debut Black Vinyl Shoes – which influenced
scores of musicians of the era, among them Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter and the
members of the dB’s – bequeathed its title to the record label).

 

The
album’s release coincides with that of a new book, definitive band chronicle Boys Don’t Lie: A History of Shoes by
Mary E. Donnelly (New York
college professor and managing editor of PurePopPress.com) with Moira McCormick.
It recounts the critically-lionized group’s evolution from rudimentary mid-’70s
experiments in cutting their own records at home, through a three-album 1980s
tenure at major label Elektra Records, on to a ’90s incarnation as
self-sufficient indie artists operating their own full-service label and studio
businesses, before coming full-circle back to home recording in the new,
post-digital-revolution millennium.

 

The backstory: It was Klebe’s state-of-the-art
home studio, in fact, that helped spark Ignition into existence in 2010. Unbeknownst to his cohorts, the
singer-guitarist had transformed his unfinished concrete basement into a
sophisticated digital-analog hybrid recording facility; he unveiled it to his
bandmates in October, shortly after Jeff Murphy presented them with a new song
he’d written, seeking his fellow Shoes’ feedback. But his brother John, along
with Klebe, didn’t merely critique Jeff’s stark, stripped-down rumination, “Out
of Round”; employing Gary’s
new studio gear, they transformed it from a straightforward ballad to a
strikingly off-kilter rock track. Written for a friend who’d died suddenly of
an infectious brain disease – but from the perspective of his grief-stricken
wife ­- “Out of Round” is driven by a measured, minor-key piano figure evoking
a barely-getting-by atmosphere of loss, which alternates with guardedly hopeful
bursts of the double-time-drummed chorus. “Out of Round” is like nothing else
in Shoes’ canon.

 

And the
song’s three-way collaboration process (which hadn’t occurred in quite some
years) juiced the Murphy brothers and Klebe into recording more new material,
now intended for a group album – Shoes’ first such project since ’94’s Propeller.  Ignition is Shoes’ fourth self-released album of all-new music since parting
ways with Elektra, a series that began with 1984’s Silhouette, continued in 1990 with Stolen Wishes and Propeller. The ensuing 18
years’ output has included a live CD, reissues, rarities compilations, a two-CD
set of early demos (2007’s limited-edition Double
Exposure
), film-soundtrack and tribute-album contributions, and Jeff
Murphy’s ’07 solo release, Cantilever.

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