This is a great moment of DIY record label community – we’re releasing the 7-inch with our pals in Silver Maple Kill Records (our first official co-release with them in more than a decade!), the band consists of friends from many of our extended family projects like Scary Women, Jackpine Snag, Hat Madder, etc, and Jeremy Porter himself produced the songs with engineering assistance by Gabe from the Tucos. Releases like this are what it’s all about – and the music itself is a compelling blend of moody alternative rock with rich vocal harmonies and engaging instrumental arrangements.
The obvious lead thought here is that The Wild Honey Collective Volume 2 is now available digitally and on CD. I’ve been chipping away at this project since LAST July so it looks like I need to find a new hobby. Or, a new volume. Check it out on all the streaming platforms – vinyl pre-orders are still happening too, fingers crossed our September projection for that release holds up. We’re celebrating the release of the new album with a few things this month, starting with a 6:45 set TONIGHT at Smiling Acres Music Festival in Trufant, MI. Then we’ll be all the wau up (UP) in Copper Harbor, MI later this month, before a certified weird GTG Revue tour will take a few Wild Honey folks and a few Harborcoat folks on the road at the end of the month. But, that’s later. Let’s check out the general show calendar for all the GTG-ers this July:7/1 – The Wild Honey Collective @ Smiling Acres Music Festival (Trufant, MI)
7/4 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ Michigan Rib Fest (Lake Orion, MI) 7/7 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ 11 Mile Sessions Live (Royal Oak, MI) Live audio/video webcast 6-8PM EST 7/8 – A Rueful Noise @ The Old Miami (Detroit, MI)
7/21 – The Wild Honey Collective @ Concert In The Park (Copper Harbor, MI) 7/22 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ Short`s Brewing Company (Bellaire, MI) 7/22 – Narc Out The Reds @ The Avenue (Lansing, MI) 7/23 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ The Workshop Brewing (Traverse City, MI)
7/26 – Cavalcade @ Sanctuary (Detroit, MI) w/ Cave In
7/29 – Erotic Novels @ The Saint (Asbury Park, NJ)
7/29 – A Rueful Noise @ The Avenue (Lansing)
Not bad for a mid-summer run! So, as mentioned above, at the end of the month we’ll be doing The Wild Honey Collective Featuring Harborcoat Tour 2022, following the lead of the run we did last fall with Jeremy Porter. For this tour Tommy (me), Danielle (my wife), and Adam (my Aymor) will be joining up with Matt and Joel from Harborcoat and whoever else gets in the van to do a revue and supergroup through the Midwest and up to New England. Matt will do some songs solo, we’ll back him up, he’ll play some songs with us, we’ll do some string band stuff, some electrified stuff, on and on it goes:
The Wild Honey Collective Featuring Harborcoat Tour 2022
7/25 – Cleveland, OH @ Medieval Pub
7/26 – Syracuse, NY @ House Show
7/27 – Troy, NY @ Troy Speakeasy
7/28 – Portland, ME @ Blue
7/29 – Searsmont, ME @ Threshers Brewing
7/30 – Brattleboro, VT @ River Garden Marketplace
7/31 – New City, NY @ District 96
Summer tourin! We love New York (state)! Looking forward to it very much…
In other news, Narc Out The Reds is on track for a fall release, Bank Of America is set to begin album recording sessions this month, Cavalcade is havin’ at it, A Rueful Noise will have their debut 7-inch out in August, and Jeremy Porter and the Tucos will hopefully have their latest 7-inch out by year’s end. And…
GTG Fest is October 21&22 in Lansing. Mark it down!
4/23 2 PM show @ The Record Lounge/Record Store Day (Lansing, MI) 4/28 Acoustic @ Beards Brewery (Petoskey, MI) 4/29 @ The Workshop Brewing Company (Traverse City, MI) 4/30 @ Short’s Brewing Company (Bellaire, MI)
Those two shows are part of the Capital City Film Festival 2022, which includes a series of six shows at The Avenue featuring artists like Chirp, NWRH, Ozay Moore, James Gardin, Lipstick Jodi, Mark Lavengood, Jen Sygit and more from 4/7-4/16. Read about the fest in general here and check out their whole schedule of movies and music here.
4/22 – Harborcoat @ Dogwood Center (Fremont, MI)
4/22 & 4/23 – STOOPFEST(Lansing) feat Screaming Females, Sidney Gish, Frontier Ruckus and many, many more! (Including Cavalcade, Wild Honey and A Rueful Nosie)
4/29 – GTG House Show w/ Mistic Mountian, Two Houses, Foxgrave (Lansing)
4/30 – Narc Out The Reds, A Rueful Noise @ The Avenue
Does that cover it?? Lots of shows! Great stuff. As always, folks are in the studio and GTG Family labelPhonophore Records just released a tribute to Guided By Voicesfeaturing brand new recordings from The Stick Arounds, The Plurals, Jeremy Porter and The Tucos, Harborcoat, Isaac Vander Schuur, The Wild Honey Collective, Gumsmack, A Rueful Noise, The Soods, No Skull, Cutlass Supreme and many more… 23 tracks!
Lots of great events at our home base of The Avenue this month. Thursday November 4th features GTG family Mistic Mountian (Nich Plural, Blaine “And His Keyboard”), and LoLo (Pudvay, Hunky, Knights, et al), November 5th is a sticky sweet Stick Arounds night, November 12 features the first-ish show by Cutlass Supreme (Frank and Earnestish), November 24 will have a cover band of Baratonos, Plurals, Aymors ‘n such, and every weekend is chock full of a wide variety of music! Whoo!
Friday October 22 – The Avenue Cafe
8 PM, 21+, $5 Cover:
8:00-8:45 Dani Plays 45s
8:45-9:15 I Believe In Julio
9:30-10:00 Bloody Butterflies
10:15-10:45 The Hunky Newcomers
11:00-11:30 Narc Out The Reds
11:45-12:30 The Plurals “Futurospective” Full Album Live
Saturday October 23 – The Record Lounge
3 PM, All Ages, $5 Cover:
3:30-4:00 Cashcow Boytoy
4:15-4:45 Drinking Mercury
5:00-5:30 The Plurals “Hattest Hits” Set
5:45- 6:15 Dasterds
6:30-7:00 Rodeo Boys
Saturday October 23 – The Avenue Cafe
8 PM, 21+, $5 Cover:
8:00-8:30 Dani Plays 45s
8:30-9:00 A Rueful Noise
9:15-9:45 Jeremy Porter and The Tucos
10:00-10:30 KIND BEAST
10:45-11:15 Bank of America
11:30-12:30 The Wild Honey Collective & Cutlass Supreme
The phrase “Joy Is Elusive” appeared in Harborcoat’s Matthew Carlson head one day, and the singer/songwriter/guitarist wrote it in black Sharpie on a piece of paper and tacked it to the wall above his studio computer. Those words became a conceptual signpost for the Harborcoat’s sophomore album, aptly titled, Joy Is Elusive.
“Not that joy doesn’t happen, or that we can’t find a lot joy in life and work, but it seems it can be difficult to find these moments and hard work to sustain them,” the Lansing, Michigan artist shares. “I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life and it has always crept into my songwriting as a sort of veiled subtext. With this new batch of songs, I made a conscious effort to write about it more directly. They aren’t mopey or deliberately maudlin, but I think during these times people are feeling a lot anxiety, depression, and they have been grappling with isolation. These topics are part of the human condition.”
Matthew is the main songwriter in Harborcoat. Previously, he led The Pantones for more than a decade, and currently he writes songs and plays and sings in Lansing power pop outfit, The Stick Arounds. In addition, he is the owner and operator of Phonophore Records.
Harborcoat began as a songwriting outlet for Matthew in 2016 for output that didn’t fit with The Stick Arounds. The vision was initially a bedroom artistic venture, but a dear friend suggested Matthew make a real record, and Harborcoat became a functioning band that plays shows and records with an ever-evolving cast of musicians. Previously, Harborcoat issued the 2017 single, “See The Sun,” and the 2019 full-length, Brutal Gravity.
Harborcoat specialize in short stories with chords. The lyrics are novelistic and almost standalone pieces rife with emotive and well-crafted narratives. The band name is pulled from an early R.E.M. gem, and the music brims with nods to Matthew’s heroes. The songs recall the crunchy power pop and harmonies of Teenage Fanclub; the introspection and melodic storytelling of Billy Bragg; and sprinkled in are moments of 80’s esque Brit-Pop or working-class anthems. These influences, however, do not define the record, but are they are merely a strand of DNA in Harborcoat’s collective musical helix.
The songs on Joy Is Elusive are buoyant and energetic and are a powerful juxtaposition to the weighty lyric content. “I wanted there to be a sense of joy and excitement even though the lyrical themes are often terribly dark. There was a direct effort to play to that old maxim of ‘beautiful melodies telling me terrible things,’” Matthew admits. He continues: “On this record I wanted to write more intently about all of our unseen struggles and the baggage we travel with each day. There is a greater thread lyrically and musically rooted within the themes of the album and the fictional town in which they occur. As much as I cringe at the idea of a concept record, this is a record with a pretty clearly defined concept.”
The 12-song album is a cohesive and conceptually immersive collection that warrants a full album listening experience. That said, select record standouts include “Transit Town,” the title track, and “Where The River Bends.” “Transit Town” is a power-pop anthem with Who-style ringing guitars and a rich tapestry of sing-along harmony vocals. The song’s sugar rush is offset by the bummer of the fleeting nature of relationships in a college town. “The story here is of a self-contained world in a mid-sized industrial city not on an upswing where one person comes into town, they partner with someone for a period of time, and then move on, and that other person is stuck and doesn’t want to be where they are,” Matthew shares. This sentiment is epitomized by the lyric: This city is just a stepping stone/And so I guess am I/Everybody else has flown/I’ve got nowhere to fly.
The deeply emotive piano ballad, “Joy Is Elusive,” is a character-driven piece about a mentally ill sibling who does a stint at a state hospital, but is later returned to his family and they have to find a way to build a life together. The song is filled with poignant scene-setting lyrics such as: We picked you up in Traverse City, scars across your arms/Drove along the country roads, you stared out at the farms/Asked you twice if you were hungry you simply shook your head/We inquired if you were better this was all you said. The dynamic and imaginatively arranged literate rocker, “Where The River Bends,” paints a powerful picture of the terror of getting what you want.
The album was tracked at Matthew’s family cabin. Before the sessions began, his father died suddenly, and Matthew thought to cancel, but his family and friends convinced him to proceed with the sessions. “That week of recording was the first time in four weeks that I had managed to find any degree of happiness or hope,” he recalls. “It was cathartic, it was beautiful, and it was the perfect distraction.”
(writeup c/o Phonophore Records)
The debut album from Harborcoat is officially out today! Check it out below, and make sure to put GTG Fest on your calendars – Oct 11, 12, and 13, cuz that’s your next chance to see this group live. Let the GTG autumn begin!