A lot has happened since Follow the Train materialized on the Louisville music scene with their EP The Great Disturbance on Debauchery records about a year ago: The line-up has changed, they’ve switched record labels, they’ve played South by Southwest. Twice. More importantly, the band has matured since Disturbance, which was recorded as a demo. In the words of singer-guitarist-songwriter Dennis Sheridan, “We’d only been playing together a couple months and we just threw it together.”
So if their “demo” was so widely acclaimed, how does that bode for A Breath of Sigh? “, we hadn’t really figured out what we were going for. And I mean … I wouldn’t say we’re really going for anything, but when we made last summer, we spent about two or three months just trying to make it the best we could. And the songs written for this record, we spent a lot more time on them too, just crafting the details.”
This attention to detail is what makes Breath stand out. There’s no doubt this is the same band that crafted the haunting pop of Disturbance, but this record isn’t a rehash. As Sheridan said, “If you keep making the same thing over and over again, people are going to think you’re boring, and that’s no fun for anybody.” So with Breath, not only does the sound vary from Disturbance, but the album varies more from song to song. “I’m Not Sorry” is a river of ambient keyboards and vocals. “Up in Flames” slinks along with a Cure-inspired groove. “Afraid” is epic in its range of levels of intensity.
The album benefits greatly from subtle details that indicate a perfect band-producer match: Kevin Ratterman, who seems to be popping up everywhere these days, was at the helm.
Ratterman is also one of several guest musicians who make appearances. He wrote and performed the eerie keyboards on “I’m Sorry,” which also features a chilling background vocal from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Additionally, fans of Sheridan’s previous band, Blue Goat War, will be excited that former bandmate Meredith Noel plays viola on “Up in Flames.”
“She’s a virtuoso. That song needed something extra. We called her in and she delivered a thousand-fold,” Sheridan said.
That more time was spent making Breath is, in part, thanks to the band’s recent signing to Darla Records, which gives recording advances. A bigger reason to join Darla, however, was wider distribution. Unfortunately, because this new arrangement involves producing more CDs, it takes longer, which means there may not be copies on hand Friday.
“When you’re trying to get yourself out to the whole world, it just takes a little longer,” Sheridan said.
The band will be performing new songs from Breath regardless, and will be playing at ear X-tacy on April 11, where the record will definitely be for sale.
There is no doubt that Breath has the necessary elements to be one of the most important and talked about records out of Louisville, or anywhere else for that matter, this year. So is Follow the Train preparing to sit back and enjoy their due praise? Hardly. “We’re starting to write new songs. I think they’re taking a new direction, too,” Sheridan said.
Jerry Green is a man with soul. He’s been telling Louisville that for more than a decade, mostly through song at the nightclub that also bears his band’s name, Jerry Green & Friends. It’s an East End fixture often populated by those reinvigorated when that last kid finally gets her own place and the house is, after an entire generation of nurturing, theirs again. For the typical American family unit, it’s around age 50 that the parents start partying again. Its reputation as a middle-aged party target precedes it. Think Jim Porter’s, but without so much overt sexuality.
Green’s jamming as usual this Friday. What’s a little different is that he’s got a new album out. Do That To Me Baby! is a soulful, lounge-y record that’ll make your legs bounce. Recorded at Alabama’s legendary Muscle Shoals Studio, the nine-song album — released by the Louisville imprint Mr. Wonderful Productions — is available for purchase at www.cdbaby.com.
Perhaps the most luring part of the Jerry Green mystique is that he and his band can play almost any song you ask him to. Anything within reason, that is. —Stephen George