WILD GOOSECHASE EXPEDITION, the new CD from Spottiswoode & His Enemies, is the band’s most shamelessly eclectic recording since their debut eponymous release over a decade ago. It tracks the journey of a rock band on a doomed tour.
The CD has garnered many rave reviews, was included on several Best of 2011 lists, and has won two Indpendent Music Awards – Best Eclectic Album (Vox Populi vote) and Best Adult Contemporary Song for the ballad, Chariot (from a jury including Tom Waits, Keith Richards and Suzanne Vega).
The remarkable artwork by renowned English painter, Alexander Gorlizki, clearly announces that the album is an homage to The Beatles. “It’s our Magical Mystery Tour,” says Spottiswoode. “As a bandleader, I often feel like a general leading his troops into battle. I’ve been playing with my Enemies for over a decade. The trip only gets more surreal. Many of these songs are about life on the road. But they could also be about being a soldier on a tour of duty.”
In addition to the title track, songs on this parallel theme include the manic Wake Me Up When It’s Over, the rocking lament Happy Where I Am, the psychedelic Purple River Yellow Sun and the tragic All My Brothers. As with all Enemies collections, a haunting narrative weaves beneath the surface of the individual songs and mysteriously elevates the whole journey.
Produced for Old Soul Records by Kenny Siegal (Chris Whitley, Larkin Grimm, Joseph Arthur, Johnny Society), the CD opens with the anthemic Beautiful Monday. It then gradually becomes darker and stranger. The band, in top form, careens from balls-out rock, novelty blues and haunting balladry to acerbic sometimes tongue-in cheek social commentary – as in the high-octane lament, All Gone Wrong. The adventure ends with the epic You Won’t Forget Your Dream featuring a beautiful solo from trumpeter Kevin Cordt followed by a tour-de-force response from Tony Lauria on piano.
The CD also shows off the incredible versatility of lead guitarist, Riley McMahon; soulful and savage saxophone and singing from Candace DeBartolo; and the rock tight rhythm section of John Young on bass and Konrad Meissner (subbing in for Tim Vaill who has since returned to the band) on drums and percussion.
Spottiswoode himself strums a guitar and sings from a catalogue of perspectives. Ever the chameleon, he plays jaded rocker, heartbroken romantic, vaudeville comedian, introspective philosopher, Zen-like sage and complete lunatic. He commits to every role. “I am tired of irony,” he says. “Each song is sincere in its own way. Sometimes my funniest songs come from the saddest place. That is the wonderful alchemy of songwriting. I meant every word of I’d Even Follow You To Philadelphia when I wrote it.”
It has indeed been a long and remarkably winding road for the English singer-songwriter. Since their January 1998 New York debut, Spottiswoode has somehow been able to hold together seven of New York’s finest musicians, put out a string of acclaimed records, perform residencies at New York’s best clubs, play Lincoln Center, tour the country, cross the ocean… all with a band that doesn’t even like him. He composes songs of all genres, and His Enemies are ready and willing to switch instruments and gears in the blink of an eye. “Nothing short of transportive!” raved Paste Magazine after catching a recent set in Atlanta.
WILD GOOSECHASE EXPEDITION is the band’s fifth release. Their eponymous debut, SPOTTISWOODE AND HIS ENEMIES, was a seamless celebration of songwriting that garnered hyperbolic reviews. Performing Songwriter included it on its Top 12 List of DIY releases: “Music to champion…Brilliantly unreviewable.” BUILDING A ROAD, the next CD, was a diabolical gospel record that CMJ Magazine picked as one of the best releases of the season: “Spottiswoode’s call-and-response with a smoldering gospel choir is among the disc’s greatest charms.” The Enemies then celebrated their tenth anniversary with the release of two very different song collections: THAT’S WHAT I LIKE, a rock cabaret romp about a playboy on a failed cruise through the Mediterranean; and SALVATION: a folksy collection of secular redemption songs. The double-release earned the Englishman a profile and interview on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” Spottiswoode then wrote ABOVE HELL’S KITCHEN, a rock opera based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In 2010, he performed the piece along with his Enemies and five other actors to sold-out crowds at the highly prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Outside the band, Spottiswoode has released two solo CDs and also, S&M, a duo record with Riley McMahon that was picked by Performing Songwriter as the best DIY release of 2007. Spottiswoode’s songs have been covered and recorded by numerous musicians and featured in a variety of mainstream and independent films including THE GENTLEMAN, a semi-autobiographical short film that he wrote and directed and which played for several years on The Independent Film Channel. More recently, three Enemies songs were included in Matthew Chapman’s THE LEDGE, starring Liv Tyler and Terrence Howard..
Amanda Case 206 781-3956