Posts Tagged ‘Eric D. Johnson’

I first heard this song when I was in my early 20’s, on a mix cassette that my then girlfriend’s cool older brother made me. I was instantly entranced – there was something so evocative about the arrangement, the transcendental and romantic lyrical imagery, and Buckley’s deeply soulful voice. I knew one of these days I’d cover it. Took me twenty-plus years to find the right situation to do it. Josh and Anaïs Mitchell (and the stellar assemblage of players on this recording) took this song in a new direction that made me fall in love with it all over again. Long live buzzin’ flies, ringing mountains, flowing rivers, and seabirds who knew your name! — Eric D. Johnson

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Released August 25th, 2020

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What seemed at first like a fun side project has turned into one of the year’s most replayable albums. Bonny Light Horseman — the new supergroup of Anais Mitchell, Eric D Johnson (Fruit Bats), and The National/Craig Finn/Hiss Golden Messenger/Josh Ritter collaborator (and now member of Paul Banks’ new band Muzz) Josh Kaufman — is steeped in centuries-old tradition, but they sound like a breath of fresh air. Their debut album is a mix of traditional folk songs (including the one they’re named after) and originals, and Bonny Light Horseman often drastically rework the traditionals and make them entirely their own. It’s an album that could appeal to fans of classic folk rock like Fairport Convention as much as to more recent indie folk acts like Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver (whose Justin Vernon appears on the album and released it on 37d03d, the label he runs with The National’s Aaron Dessner, who also played on the album), and it’s one of the most refreshing albums in this style to be released in recent memory.

Bonny Light Horseman — the indie folk super-trio featuring Anais Mitchell, Eric D Johnson (Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman — released one of the year’s best albums so far, followed by a great non-album single “Green Rocky Road,” and here’s another great song, which is the b-side to “Green Rocky Road.”

From the single Green/Green, out 7th Aug 2020 via 37d03d Records.

From Eric D. Johnson:
This recording is cut down from a much larger show, a rare “evening with Fruit Bats”—no opener, two sets—that ran a little over two hours. Which was really long for me. How does Phish pull it off every night?

Revolution Hall is one of my favourite venues. It’s a nice theater with comfy seats, which is plush but also leads to people sitting down. I mean, a seated audience is kinda classy in a lot of ways, but I’m always looking for that extra rush of energy as the songs ramp up. At one point, you can hear me (gently) implore folks to stand up (!!). But as it was a long evening—and it being Portland, the beer selection was dank and flowing—naturally the audience got rowdier (and on their feet) as the night progressed, which you can clearly hear in the later points of this recording.

This was the last night of a short tour of the Pacific Northwest in January 2019, so in it you hear some of the earliest live versions of songs off of Gold Past Life which didn’t come out until a few months later. It also includes the only live version of “The Banishment Song” ever, plus a couple of rarely played cuts off of Spelled in Bones.

The band lineup was really special here, an expanded 7-piece lineup that included my stellar frequent co-conspirators Josh Mease (guitar), David Dawda (bass), Josh Adams (drums), and Frank LoCrasto (keys), plus extra special sauce provided by the members of the great Pure Bathing Culture: Sarah Versprille, taking the harmony vocals to a heavenly level (and playing Mellotron), and Daniel Hindman, giving the whole show a delicious gauzy Fender Strat flavor. I’m really happy that our excellent front-of-house engineer Aly Carlisle-Steinberg thought to hit record that evening.

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Released June 5th, 2020
The Band:
Eric D. Johnson – vocals, guitar, banjo
Josh Mease – guitar
David Dawda – bass
Josh Adams – drums
Frank LoCrasto – pianos, organs, synths
Sarah Versprille – vocals, Mellotron
Daniel Hindman – guitar

Recorded January 19th, 2019, at Revolution Hall, Portland, OR

Aly Carlisle-Steinberg – live mixing / engineering / recording
Nathan Vanderpool – additional post-production engineering and mastering

From Eric D. Johnson:
This recording is cut down from a much larger show, a rare “evening with Fruit Bats”—no opener, two sets—that ran a little over two hours. Which was really long for me. How does Phish pull it off every night?

Revolution Hall is one of my favourite venues. It’s a nice theater with comfy seats, which is plush but also leads to people sitting down. I mean, a seated audience is kinda classy in a lot of ways, but I’m always looking for that extra rush of energy as the songs ramp up. At one point, you can hear me (gently) implore folks to stand up (!!). But as it was a long evening—and it being Portland, the beer selection was dank and flowing—naturally the audience got rowdier (and on their feet) as the night progressed, which you can clearly hear in the later points of this recording.

This was the last night of a short tour of the Pacific Northwest in January 2019, so in it you hear some of the earliest live versions of songs off of “Gold Past Life” which didn’t come out until a few months later. It also includes the only live version of “The Banishment Song” ever, plus a couple of rarely played cuts off of Spelled in Bones.

The band line-up was really special here, an expanded 7-piece lineup that included my stellar frequent co-conspirators Josh Mease (guitar), David Dawda (bass), Josh Adams (drums), and Frank LoCrasto (keys), plus extra special sauce provided by the members of the great Pure Bathing Culture: Sarah Versprille, taking the harmony vocals to a heavenly level (and playing Mellotron), and Daniel Hindman, giving the whole show a delicious gauzy Fender Strat flavor. I’m really happy that our excellent front-of-house engineer Aly Carlisle-Steinberg thought to hit record that evening.

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Trad-folk rabble rousers from a bevvy of renowned musicians with a keen understanding on the heritage of the genre and an enviable imagination for how to take it bounding into the future.

The astral folk outfit—comprised of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson, and Josh Kaufman— mixes the ancient, mystical medium of transatlantic traditional folk music with a contemporary, collective brush. the resulting album, bonny light horseman, is an elusive kind of sonic event: a bottled blend of lightning and synergy that will excite fans of multiple genres, eras, and ages. This is colourful, textured work: a lush and loving ode to the past with one eye fixed on the present. “There’s a palpable through line: a sense that the spirit of these ancient songs can be secured in the face of radical transformation”

What seemed at first like a fun side project has turned into one of the year’s most re-playable albums. Bonny Light Horseman are a new supergroup of Anais Mitchell, Eric D Johnson (Fruit Bats), and The National/Craig Finn/Hiss Golden Messenger/Josh Ritter collaborator (and now member of Paul Banks’ new band Muzz) Josh Kaufman — is steeped in centuries-old tradition, but they sound like a breath of fresh air. Their debut album is a mix of traditional folk songs (including the one they’re named after) and originals, and Bonny Light Horseman often drastically rework the traditionals and make them entirely their own. It’s an album that could appeal to fans of classic folk rock like Fairport Convention as much as to more recent indie folk acts like Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver (whose Justin Vernon appears on the album and released it on 37d03d, the label he runs with The National’s Aaron Dessner, who also played on the album), and it’s one of the most refreshing albums in this style to be released in recent memory.

The new song from Bonny Light Horseman, “Deep In Love,” began as a Fruit Bats sketch, until Josh Kaufman recognized its uncanny (and unplanned) similarity to a traditional tune by that name. available on 37d03d Records.

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I’ve been following Fruit Bats for a few years now and as a fan, but when Eric D. Johnson released his seventh album under the alias last year, I blew through it a few times and swiftly forgot it ever existed. For some reason, it just didn’t stick. That is, until last week when a friend sent album opener “The Bottom of It” my way as a rainy day recommendation, and the record entered my consciousness once again, where it has been taking up space ever since. Gold Past Life is way groovier than anything Johnson has released before: It very often verges on ’70s disco or funk (the title track sounds like a Bee Gees song—full stop) or maybe even ambling folk-rock in the vein of The Byrds, whereas something like 2016’s Absolute Loser or 2009’s The Ruminant Band was more firmly planted in the indie-folk sphere. Gold Past Life is thoughtful and smart all the way through, sometimes cheerful and sometimes sad and always brisk—like a gust of wind slapping your face as you stare at the ocean, or a gentler cool breeze guiding you up a mountain on a long, peaceful hike.

Gold Past Life marks both an end and a beginning. It’s the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that beganwith 2014’s EDJ(a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit a peak with 2016’s Absolute Loser They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been.

I find more to enjoy in each listen, and I only wish I had given it more credit last year upon its initial release. But, as they say, better late than never! the new record also features more keyboard influences and a range of guests including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore, Vampire Weekend), Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Trevor Beld Jimenez and Tim Ramsey (Parting Lines), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), and more.

From the album Gold Past Life, released June 21st, 2019 on Merge Records.

When Fruit Bats announced its new album and signing to Merge Records late last year, singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson did so by “Getting in a Van Again.” The 15-minute mockumentary presented a surrealist view of the music industry, while teasing the very real themes explored on his album from last year “Gold Past Life” released in June 21, 2019.

“I know I said I’d be around this year, but here I am getting in a van again.”

According to Johnson, “Fruit Bats has been a cult band for a long time.” With Gold Past Life, he hopes to bring more immediacy to the music and share positivity, hope, and motivation to keep on keepin’ on with a wider audience.

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Fruit Bats makes existential make-out music,” he describes with a chuckle. “But you’re also welcome to dive into it deeper if you want. Good pop music should be sublime like that.”

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If you listen to a band for 18 years, you’re bound to have more than “A Lingering Love” for them. With Gold Past Life, Fruit Bats reach new heights that have significantly increased not only their quiver of amazing songs, but also their fan base.

Chicago-based alt-folk band Fruit Bats released a case study in B-roll for their newest single, “Gold Past Life.” At the center of the bizarre music video stands the proud proprietor of a mail-order stock footage company, who is aiming to sell selections from his catalog by showing off his newest satisfied customers:

Fruit Bats (who else could it possibly be?). The proprietor’s Sunset at Beach (with Zoom), Seasonal Bird in Oven and Desperate Businessman Discovers Future clips, and other assorted footage are scored by the band’s easy, buoyant single, some of which include frontman Eric D. Johnson as The Drifter, Desperate Businessman and the Beach Bum.

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released June 21st, 2019

All music and lyrics by Eric D. Johnson 
Published by Furry Good Horns / BMI

Fruit Bats is Eric D. Johnson – words, vocals, various
with
Josh Adams – drums
David Dawda – bass
Josh Mease – guitar
Thom Monahan – sounds, percussion
and featuring
Trevor Beld Jimenez – drums
Neal Casal – guitar
Meg Duffy – guitar
Greta Morgan – vocals
Tim Ramsey – pedal steel

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Bonny Light Horseman, the new folk supergroup consisting of singer/songwriters Anais Mitchell, Josh Kaufman, and Eric D. Johnson (of Fruit Bats). Their self-titled debut album is out December of 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to them. Bonny Light Horseman is full of beautiful songs inspired by traditional folk tunes of the British Isles, and we know you’ll be amazed by the gentle harmonies, gorgeous songwriting, and soothing sound of this great debut work.

The folk event of the year could already be upon us. Bonny Light Horseman may sound like a meaningless arrangement of words, but it’s actually Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman, three incredible musicians and creators in their own rights who decided to bless the acoustic music world by joining forces. And their namesake is actually derived from an English-Irish ballad with origins in the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, “Bonny Light Horseman,” which is also the first track on their self-titled debut album and features The National’s Aaron Dessner on guitar. The three artists first gathered at Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires Festival circa summer 2018, and a year later they rendezvoused at Pickathon. You know the Portland-based Johnson from his band Fruit Bats, and Mitchell is the mastermind behind Hadestown, which won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical, and its coinciding concept album, which she first released in 2010. Kaufman is a producer who’s notably worked with Craig Finn, Josh Ritter and The National. Together, they’ve made something truly spellbinding: a folk album whose influences span the centuries and the continents, but whose core is so very of-this-moment.

Their timeless qualities of traditional tunes can carry us across oceans and eons, linking us not only to the past but to each other as well. It was under the banner of those eternal connections that the trio of Bonny Light Horseman came together. From festival fields and a German art hub to a snowy upstate studio and everywhere in between, the astral folk outfit is mixing the ancient, mystical medium of transatlantic traditional folk music with a contemporary, collective brush. The resulting album, Bonny Light Horseman, is an elusive kind of sonic event: a bottled blend of lightning and synergy that will excite fans of multiple genres, eras, and ages. The album features fellow 37d03d artists-in-residence Michael Lewis (bass, saxophone) and JT Bates (drums) as well as Justin Vernon, Aaron Dessner, Kate Stables, Lisa Hannigan, The Staves, Christian Lee Hutson, and more. Leaving the 2018 37d03d Berlin event with roughly 60-percent of a record, the band reconvened at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, NY, in January 2019 to finish, bringing Lewis and Bates as well as engineer Bella Blasko along with them.

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When Fruit Bats announced its new album and signing to Merge Records late last year, singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson did so by “Getting in a Van Again.” The 15-minute mockumentary presented a surrealist view of the music industry, while teasing the very real themes explored on his previous album Gold Past Life—Released on June 21, 2019. “I know I said I’d be around this year, but here I am getting in a van again.”

Gold Past Life marked both an end and a beginning. It’s the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that began with 2014’s EDJ (a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit an emotional peak with  Absolute Loser. They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been.

“I wrote music to comfort myself,” says Eric D. Johnson of those times. “It was a soothing balm.”

But these salves, these songs on Gold Past Life, also represent new beginnings—the journeys that await after making it through troubled times.

That spiritual sense of place is particularly important to Johnson, who has always been fascinated by dreams and the subconscious stories they can tell. “Some of these songs are directed at specific people, some at amalgams of people, and lots at myself, or the subconscious version of myself—that version like how they say you’re every single character in your dreams,” he says. “Even the artwork represents the notion that we’re all the characters in our dreams. Here’s me looking at you: I’m a deer on a beach looking you dead in the eye and licking my lips.”

The new record also features more keyboard influences and a range of guests including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore, Vampire Weekend), Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Trevor Beld Jimenez and Tim Ramsey (Parting Lines), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), and more. It also sees his working relationship with producer and engineer Thom Monahan (Neko Case, Peter Bjorn & John, Devendra Banhart) hit its stride.

According to Johnson, “Fruit Bats has been a cult band for a long time.” he hopes to bring more immediacy to the music and share positivity, hope, and motivation to keep on keepin’ on with a wider audience.

“Fruit Bats makes existential make-out music,” he describes with a chuckle. “But you’re also welcome to dive into it deeper if you want. Good pop music should be sublime like that.”

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released October 9th, 2019