Eric Salt & The Electric City lit up the Q Division Holiday Party. See what I did there? Oh, and another photo of Dan Nicklin in a Santa hat.
Cujo were a last minute fill-in as part of the Stars Like Ours single release show at The Midway. All they did was turn in the best show I’ve seen from them yet. No big deal.
My final pilgrimage to TT The Bear’s Place began with Cujo playing Jen’s song “Better Than Nothing,” thus ensuring I would be smiling all night.
Have I ever mentioned how great I think Airport’s songs are? Yes, I think I have. My feelings have not changed. They’re still keeping the flame of ’70s AM radio alive. They even did a cover of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” to further endear themselves to me.* Well played, Airport.
* That’s why they did it, right? Right?
I was really anxious on October 11th, the first day of the Bands For Babs benefit. Having “Never Intended” by Eric Salt & The Electric City stuck in my head all day helped to calm me down. After being upstairs at Radio for The Modifiers and AM Stereo, I bopped down to Moe’s Lounge to catch as much of Eric Salt and his band as I could. Just as I walked into the wood-paneled sanctuary, The Electric City kicked into “Never Intended” and everything was right in the world.
Ever since I heard Go Up, Airport’s glorious take on the sounds of ’70s radio, I’ve been meaning go to one of the band’s shows. I won’t say who’s fault it is,* but I hadn’t been able to make it happen. That all changed Sunday night at Radio. I finally got to catch a set from the sonic sons of Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and Joe Jackson. It was worth the wait.
* Clearly mine. I’d be quick to point out if someone else was at fault.
Two minutes and forty seconds into “Open Doorway” from Eric Salt & The Electric City’s album, The Hail Mary, the listener is submerged in a sea of cascading vocal harmonies. It’s the culmination of a three song opening sequence that is thoroughly engaging. “Stand In The Light” kicks things off with its syncopated guitars and snarling vocals while “Pearls” oscillates between the vibrant and ominous. By the time of the final snare hit of “Open Doorway”, it’s hard to imagine any other way Eric and company could have unveiled The Hail Mary.
The record sheds some of its drama with the fourth track, “Never Intended”, complete with Billy Preston-esque electric piano flourishes and light-hearted backing vocals. “Beatle Chord” doesn’t hide its Abbey Road influence in title or style. Throughout the 12 song CD there are hints of Wilco, Elvis Costello, and the occasional guitar line or vocal melody that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Paul Westerberg penned tune. The earnestness of the record would be burdensome if it wasn’t so damn honest.
There’s a high level of musicianship on The Hail Mary. Eric and his crew know when to play fast and loose and when to show some restraint. Vocals go from breathy to biting without ever sounding forced. Denis Saulnier’s drums are clockwork steady yet never lack feel. Layers of guitars all seem to know their place. Nuanced mixes from Ed Valauskas and Rafi Sofer (and Eric himself on “Long Livin’ Life”) tie it all together. The Hail Mary has all of the expected polish and sheen of an album produced by Ed at Q Division.
Where to get it:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Eric Salt & The Electric City. Eric recently performed at the Bruce Springsteen tribute night with some of these guys, and it reminded me how well they play off each other. Tonight’s return of the full-on Electric City puts the band’s own songs in the well deserved spotlight. I’ve missed this.