Posts Tagged ‘Fruit Bats’

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

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Fruit Bats share “Ocean” music video ahead of summer tour dates

Just ahead of full-band performances in NYC and DC, as well as appearances at MRG30 and Pickathon, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats is sharing a music video for “Ocean” from his much-loved Merge Records debut, “Gold Past Life”.  director Danielle Rubi: says

When I first heard Eric’s song “Ocean,” I immediately had a series of moving photographs play out in my mind. The melancholic tone resonated with me a lot artistically, so I decided to create an authentic portrait of how it may feel to be a bit lost in this world. I think our culture could use more somber, honest, and hopeful pieces out there. To help us feel found, and to simply say, We are going to be ok.

The opaque aqua Peak Vinyl of Gold Past Life packaged with a bonus 7-inch is sold out in the Merge store, but Fruit Bats will have copies on the road while supplies last!

Praise for “Gold Past Life”:

“This sweet, smart concept album about nostalgia is one of the year’s best-written… Even as dedicated a nostalgist as Johnson paints himself to be can come to realize that the future’s still a good place to go mining for gold, too.” —Variety

“A peak of radiant retro poppiness” —Rolling Stone

“Deftly avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, Fruit Bats’ Gold Past Life takes stock of life from the vantage point of middle age and charts a path forward with hope and no little circumspection, without once feeling sorry for itself.” —PopMatters

“Underneath guitar melodies that seem to glide on warm California air, and Johnson’s singular falsetto harmonies, he is working through some dark, existential anxieties on Gold Past Life. But that’s what makes these songs so sublime.” —No Depression

“It hurts, thinking about what once was. So Gold Past Life wraps that sobering truth up in animated pop rock, an element of sweetness to make the darkness go down a little easier.” —Paste

The opaque aqua Peak Vinyl of Gold Past Life packaged with a bonus 7-inch is sold out in the Merge store, but Fruit Bats will have copies on the road while supplies last!

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Fruit Bats, aka Eric D. Johnson’s alt-folk band and songwriting project, are preparing to release their first new album since 2016’s critically acclaimed Absolute Loser. The new record tilted, “Gold Past Life”, marks Johnson’s seventh studio effort under the Fruit Bats name and his third in an “unintentional thematic trilogy” of albums beginning with 2014’s EDJ, which he released under his own initials. Following those five years of political and personal chaos that maxed out with Loser, Gold Past Life promises a shimmery new beginning.

The third single, following the previously released title track and “The Bottom of It,” is a real folk-rock charmer. It’s called “Ocean” .

“This is a song about late bloomers, late discoveries, adult baptism, coming-of-age when you’re way past the right time to do that,” Johnson says. “About growing, I guess. And how a good love can help you do all of that. In short, this is a lovey-dovey song I hope you enjoy.”

“Ocean” begins in calm waters, with just some light acoustic guitar, before maracas and staggered baroque piano accelerate the tempo, just as Johnson is “watching it all tumble into view.” As is usually the case with Johnson’s realist yet romantic songwriting, “Ocean” is nostalgic without collapsing into melodrama.

Fruit Bats signed to Merge Records earlier this year following Johnson’s longtime “mega label crush” on the North Carolina mainstay. Gold Past Life is their debut on the label, and it’s out June 21st.

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

Though it sounds perfectly natural in the line of succession of Fruit Bats albums, it’s the five-year hiatus preceding “Absolute Loser” that makes all the difference. That album, as cohesive and strong top to bottom as anything frontman Eric D. Johnson has previously made, The album gathers its sense of purpose from the sort of self-reflection and search for meaning that caused Johnson to put Fruit Bats on hold after 2011’s Tripper.

But “Absolute Loser” unfolds as a rock-solid example of what Johnson has done best for more than 15 years. Although the album stacks more of its mellower songs toward the end—trading some of the enthusiastic spirit Johnson brings to Fruit Bats’ return for a finale that sounds thoroughly peaceful—in the end, anyone who’s tapped feet or nodded along to Fruit Bats in the past will find plenty to embrace with this new batch of familiar, comfortable tunes.

Fruit Bats – Absolute Loser
Recorded Live: 5/9/2016 – Paste Studios – New York, NY

Though it sounds perfectly natural in the line of succession of Fruit Bats albums, it’s the five-year hiatus preceding the latest album release Absolute Loser that makes all the difference. That album, as cohesive and strong top to bottom as anything frontman Eric D. Johnson has made, gathers its sense of purpose from the sort of self-reflection and search for meaning that caused Johnson to put Fruit Bats on the shelf after 2011’s Tripper. But Absolute Loser unfolds as a rock-solid example of what Johnson has done best for more than 15 years. Although the album stacks more of its mellower songs toward the end—trading some of the enthusiastic spirit Johnson brings to Fruit Bats’ return for a finale that sounds thoroughly peaceful—in the end, anyone who’s tapped feet or nodded along to Fruit Bats in the past will find plenty to embrace with this new batch of familiar, comfortable tunes

The new album, ‘Absolute Loser,‘ will be released May 13th on Easy Sound Recording Co