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SOLITAIRE RECORDINGS

Kate Davis

Strange Boy

    In collaboration with the Hi, How Are You Project, a non-profit organization that provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and education on mental well-being, Davis is releasing Strange Boy, a unique rendering that is named after the eighth song on Johnston’s original masterpiece.

    As a homage to that original song — which begins with a three-minute recording of a man telling a story about meeting Johnston for the first time — Davis placed recordings of her own friends sharing memories that they have of Johnston as interludes between each of the nine songs on her new album. Most of the voices have been sped up to give the impression of someone fastforwarding through a cassette tape. It’s a neat touch that adds both color and humor to the work.

    Davis also put her own spin on the music, adding fuzzy psychedelic tones and warm rock and roll textures that position the cover album alongside her highly coveted indie rock debut, Trophy. That album featured on Bandcamp’s Best Albums of 2019 list and led to Davis performing an NPR Tiny Desk concert in August.

    “My main objective was to echo his original spirit,” Davis says of her process. “Overall, the project gave me a lot of wiggle room when it came to using keyboards, vocal effects and making other arrangement decisions. It encouraged me to push and stretch myself musically.”

    Davis has jumped between styles before: she grew up playing jazz in Oregon before crossing the country in 2009 to attend the Manhattan School of Music. She performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, all before diving head first into her current career as an immaculately polished indie rock star. It’s no surprise, then, that her interpretation of Retired Boxer expands on what Johnston made in the 1980s.

    Davis’ cover of “I'll Do Anything But Breakdance For Ya, Darling,” turns Johnston’s original rickety piano composition into a rousing indie rock song. Synths and a simple drum beat arrive midway through and burst open like an asteroid. “I was trying to convey the feelings of unrequited love, and all the messiness of the emotions that are so effortlessly and plainly stated in the song,” Davis says. “The breakdance reference is, to me, very funny.”

    She describes Johnston’s “Oh No” as a brain-melting song, and says it was especially fun to pick it apart and create a different treatment. “I love the song because of its lyrical eccentricities,” she says. “It ended up feeling heavier and in some ways more frenetic,” Davis continues, understating just how much pep she has added to the song. It’s here where Davis begins to stray from Johnson’s orbit and enter her own world. “Strange Boy,” which immediately follows “Oh No,” is a 56-second CBGB-style punk banger.

    True acolytes will know that Retired Boxer contains one of Johnston’s most beloved songs: “True Love Will Find You in the End.” It’s been covered by Beck, Wilco, Peach Kelli Pop, and hundreds of other diehard Johnston stans, and Davis admits that it presented a unique challenge. “I wanted to keep it sparse, but also keep it in the same sonic landscape as the rest of the record,” she says. She certainly overcame that challenge. Her voice, holding steady in the breeze, searches for the same light that Johnston could see off in the distance. For decades, the song has been a salve for anyone suffering from a broken heart. Here it also serves to bring us closer in this moment of despair. 


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Make God Your Boyfriend
    2. I'll Do Anything But Breakdance For Yak, Darling
    3. Loveless Friend
    4. Bye Bye Barbie
    5. You Are Going To Die Alone
    6. Fighting With Myself
    7. The End Of Your Life
    8. Too Young To Die
    9. Is That Cheesy?
    10. This Song
    11. One Of Her Depressing Playlists
    12. Feels Good
    13. Licking Baby George
    14. Oh No
    15. He Can Really Rock
    16. Strange Boy
    17. If My Ears Were Better And I Could Understand The Words
    18. True Love Will Find You In The End

    Little Kid

    Transfiguration Highway

      After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There, he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”(Matthew 17:2).

      Based out of Toronto, Little Kid’s Kenny Boothby finds himself inspired by this idea of transfiguration - a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. Far-ranging in both its sonic palette and its subject matter, the band’s forthcoming album, Transfiguration Highway is a record of unusual depth and clarity from a songwriter who has spent the better part of a decade honing his craft and a lifetime building the perspective his songs so deftly express. These are personal songs that look outward, that seek to tie together the bigness of the world and the smallness of the everyday with both subtlety and humility. For years Boothby and Little Kid have been quietly building a devoted following, but their Solitaire debut is a beautifully formed introduction to the wider world for an artist who will undoubtedly be recognized as a uniquely gifted songwriting voice.

      Operating since 2011, and now joined by Megan Lunn (banjo, keys, vocals), Paul Vroom (bass & vocals), Liam Cole (drums) and Brodie Germain (drums, guitar, percussion), Little Kid has built a cult audience with a series of idiosyncratic home recordings, self-released in short cassette runs that range from more traditional albums and EPs, to 2019’s Botched Restorations - on which Boothby sold out a run of one-of-a-kind 60 minute cassettes that each contained 10 songs from his discography, chosen by the purchaser and recorded live to tape in his bedroom.


      TRACK LISTING

      1. I Thought That You'd Been Raptured
      2. What's In A Name
      3. Transfiguration Highway
      4. Thief On The Cross
      5. All Night (Golden Ring)
      6. Candle Out
      7. Made For Each Other
      8. Close Enough To Kill
      9. Losing
      10. Gill
      11. Pry


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