It does happen: good honest rock and roll bands filled with good honest rock and roll people really do climb the ladder of success.
About three weeks ago, The Purrs, a band that I admire and have written about before (“absolutely so great that I’m stunned that they’re playing an Irish frat pub on a Saturday”) finished their first full-length album. These guys have been together for about four years, with the current lineup for about one and a half, and were stuck pretty much where so many good bands get stuck–no label, shows at good clubs on bad nights and bars on good nights. Although they did get some nice press and a bit of college radio play for their last EP.
The new record, The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of, sounds great, especially given that it was recorded with simple inexpensive microphones (57s and 58s) and a Tascam digital recording unit–the kind of gear you can buy on eBay for under a thousand bucks. Professional mastering probably helped give it a nice loud “radio-ready” sound, but the simple fact of the matter is that great songs and solid performances shouldn’t need a lot of highly involved and expensive studio trickery. I mean, all those groundbreaking Motown and jazz records were recorded with one (or maybe two) boom mics, live in the studio. I appreciate studio geniuses like George Martin and Alan Parsons and Nigel Godrich, but rock and roll is just rock and roll.
So, the band personally sent about 50 copies of the album with accompanying presskit to print outlets and radio stations. A couple days later, the program director for KEXP, which is technically a college radio station but one of the bigger ones with national influence, listened to it. Loved it. Wrote a nice review, started spinning it in light rotation, and last week officially added it to the playlist where it now stands at #3. They’re playing live on the radio station the afternoon of their CD release party. That’s right–their CD hasn’t even been “officially” released yet.
Almost unheard of for an unsigned band. So buy their CD now and you can say you were into them back when.