Parsonsfield, Animal Years

Vectortone / Production Simple Presents

Parsonsfield

Animal Years

Tue, April 11, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Zanzabar

Louisville, KY

$10.00 - $12.00

Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Parsonsfield
Parsonsfield
May 6, 2015: Day One in the abandoned axe factory hadn't gone as planned, so today is the first time the five members of Parsonsfield will actually get to make music here. They'd been looking forward to converting this cavernous industrial space on the banks of the Farmington River in Collinsville, CT, ever since singer/banjo player Chris Freeman, who grew up nearby, brought it to their attention. The idea of recording in such a reverberant, reactive space held great appeal after the past six months spent in Canada exclusively performing their critically acclaimed original songs for 'The Heart Of Robin Hood,' a musical that required them to wear in-ear monitors for eight shows a week in theaters designed to be sonically dead.

They've got their amps and PA plugged in now, and there's a faint layer of sawdust on top of all the gear. It's nothing compared to yesterday, when they opened the doors for the first time and discovered sawdust an inch thick coating every imaginable surface. It was so bad they had to purchase respirators and devote the entire day to sweeping and vacuuming, trying to outwit the neighbor's overzealous guard dog every time they came and went from the building. The whole process left so much dust still floating in the air that every time they take a break, another layer settles back down to earth, but at least they can comfortably breathe now.

Above them, a cyclist crosses the rickety bridge over the river, making a distinctive clatter as the wheels hit a particularly loose plank. It's time to begin 'Blooming Through The Black.'

* * *
Though they call western Massachusetts home, Parsonsfield draws their name from the rural Maine town that's home to the Great North Sound Society, the farmhouse-turned-
recording-studio of Josh Ritter keyboardist/producer Sam Kassirer. It was there that they cut their outstanding debut, 'Poor Old Shine,' which established them as a roots force to be reckoned with. Folk Alley dubbed their songs "the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas." Their rowdy live performances only upped the ante, with The Bluegrass Situation falling for their "fun and frenzy" and No Depression raving that they'll "give you rich five-part harmonies one minute, sound like bluegrass on steroids the next, and then rock you over the head with unbearably cool and raucous Celtic rhythms."

It was only natural, then, that they called on Kassirer once again for their follow-up, 'Blooming Through The Black,' enlisting his engineering and production ingenuity to help convert the axe factory into a temporary recording studio. In addition to placing
microphones on each instrument, Kassirer set up additional mics throughout the factory just to capture the feel of the enormous space, which itself became another instrument in the band's already-impressive repertoire.

Parsonsfield spent nearly six months writing and rehearsing in the factory, discovering that song ideas that had begun life in Canada radically transformed in their new home.The space demanded understatement and subtlety to balance out the band's exuberance and energy, and by the time they were ready to hit record, they were sitting on a collection chock full of the most infectious, emotionally mature songs of their career.

'Blooming Through The Black' opens with 'Stronger,' a slow-burner that begins as an acoustic folk number and builds to an electrified tumult. It's a showcase for their instrumental prowess, lyrical chops, and unbridled passion, and it's just the start. The title track—inspired by the sight of the first flowers growing back in the forest fire-charred landscape of Hell Canyon, South Dakota—finds Freeman blending punk energy with earnest sincerity in his delivery, while "Across Your Mind" rides a feel-good groove driven by bassist Harrison Goodale and drummer Erik Hischman, and "Water Through A Mill" ebbs and flows like a solemn hymn on top of Max Shakun's meditative pump organ.

As the band explored the quirks and eccentricities of the factory, unexpected sounds and moments sometimes became permanent fixtures of the songs, but a particularly happy accident occurred outside the studio entirely, when Shakun called mandolin player Antonio Alcorn for help setting up his new record player. Upon dropping the needle somewhere in the middle of a copy of 'Poor Old Shine,' they discovered it was spinning backwards, but the melody coming out of the speakers was perhaps even more of an infectious earworm than it was when played forward. They brought the new riff to the rest of the band, where it morphed into "The Ties That Bind Us," a stand-out foot-stomper and a highlight of their live show.

Catch Parsonsfield onstage any night and the band's joy is palpable. They trade instruments, share microphones, and shoot each other big grins. They sing in tight multi-part harmonies, their voices blending like they've been doing this together all their lives. That's because Parsonsfield is a family band, not by birth but by choice. And with an album this thrilling, it's only a matter of time before you share their same enthusiasm.

Listen closely at the top of "Don't Get Excited" and you'll hear the clatter of a cyclist crossing the rickety bridge over the river. That's the sound of Parsonsfield inviting you into the axe factory. It's time to begin 'Blooming Through The Black.' Good luck not getting excited.
Animal Years
Animal Years
"We borrowed the name from a Josh Ritter album," Animal Years singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike McFadden says of his band's moniker. "Originally, we just liked the way the phrase sounded. But the more we thought about it, the more it meant to us, and we started saying things like 'Live your life in animal years.' If you knew that you'd only be around for a few years, you'd do things differently. That's how we try to operate as a band; we try to go for it every day, like we're gonna die tomorrow."

That level of urgency resonates throughout Far From Home, Animal Years' first eOne release. The five-song EP -- produced by Ryan Hadlock, renowned for his work with the Lumineers, Brandi Carlile and Vance Joy -- offers a consistently compelling distillation of the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Baltimore trio's irresistibly anthemic, unfailingly uplifting songcraft, which ranges from the fist-pumping infectiousness of "Caroline" to the introspective warmth of "Friends" to the bittersweet buoyancy of "Home (I Was Born)." McFadden's catchy, emotionally direct songwriting is matched by the band's exuberant performances, which combine McFadden's openhearted vocals and surging acoustic guitars with the punchy rhythmic kick of bassist Anthony Saladino and drummer Anthony Spinnato.

"Someone once described us in a review as 'singer-songwriter music with the amps turned up,'" McFadden notes. "The emphasis is on the songs and the songwriting, but we're definitely a rock band. Even if I'm playing an acoustic guitar, I'm playing it through an amp with the distortion on. We're always gonna be louder than the other bands on the bill."

Far From Home's memorable compositions and high-energy performances make it clear why Animal Years has already earned a fiercely loyal grass-roots fan base. Without the benefit of a mainstream record label, the band has built its audience the old-fashioned way: through dogged roadwork, winning over one fan at a time.

"When we moved to New York, we hit the city really hard, and things just grew organically," McFadden explains. "We naturally evolved from small clubs to bigger ones, and from small tours to bigger tours, with more people coming out each time. Everything has happened really organically, through us just being ourselves and trying to be as honest as we can."

The thee bandmates and producer Hadlock recorded Far From Home in the remote environs of Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY, far from the band's normal urban surroundings.

"We really wanted to isolate ourselves in a place with no distractions other than making the record," McFadden explains. "So we all went up to Woodstock and worked in this great studio in a rebuilt barn. We've been demoing stuff for years, but this is the first time the three of us had made a record together. Ryan was really great to work with, and I think that he really brought out the best in us. It was great recording out there in the middle of nowhere; we'd record 12 hours a day, and then all hang out at night."

Far From Home showcases McFadden's knack for writing forthright songs that cut to the chase, lyrically and melodically. "On this EP, I wanted to write things that everyone can relate to," he asserts. "Sometimes lyrics can be open to interpretation, but for the most part I want people to know exactly what I'm talking about. All of these songs were written on the road, so a lot of the themes are about being away from home and missing people, and not taking people for granted.

"We had four songs that we really liked for the EP, but we knew that we needed one more that would really grab people's attention," he continues. "I was driving back from North Carolina, right at the end of a tour, and I wrote 'Caroline' in the car. Within ten minutes, I had pulled over to the side of the road and recorded the whole thing into my phone. A couple of days later, we made a rough demo, and everybody who heard it said 'Yeah, that's the one.' It's the song that got the attention of our record label, and now it's the first single from the EP."

The unpretentious attitude and hard-driving work ethic that define Animal Years were established early on, when Mike McFadden first began writing and performing his own songs in his mid-teens, releasing his first studio CD under his own name while still in high school in Baltimore. That inaugural effort won a good deal of attention, and even gained some local radio play. A second CD, released when McFadden was 18, was even better received by fans and local radio programmers, and soon his songs were being picked up for use in commercials from such advertisers as Coca-Cola and Pennzoil.

"That was the driver for me to think about quitting my job in Baltimore and going to New York to start Animal Years," McFadden recalls. "Before I moved to New York, I did another solo album, The Sun Will Rise. At that point, Anthony the bass player suggested that we find a drummer and make it into a band, so we rebranded the CD as an Animal Years release.

"It became a real band really quickly," McFadden reports. "When we started the band, we were all working jobs to raise money to make it happen, so we could afford to go on the road and into the studio. The guys started taking an equal part of the work, and everybody started contributing. It took some getting used to, but it was good not being alone and not having to do everything myself. The songwriting is still the same, because that's still me, but everyone's invested in this partnership and we're all getting something out of it."

Animal Years' timely relocation to New York proved to be a crucial turning point for the band. "The music scene in Baltimore is really big and varied, but I never felt like we ever really fit in there," says McFadden. "When we got to New York, we felt a lot more at home and got a much better reception. In New York, there're more people, there're more opportunities, there're more venues. You can play a few nights a week and still never run out of places to play."

Having already established themselves in their adopted hometown and having won a legion of new friends and fans on the road, Animal Years plan to continue doing what they do best: making music and touching people.

"We're planning on hitting the road super-hard," McFadden affirms. "We're definitely willing to put in the work, and make it happen by any means necessary. That's the only way you can do it these days. There are so many other people who are working as hard as you are, so you just have to work twice as hard."
Venue Information:
Zanzabar
2100 South Preston Street
Louisville, KY, 40217
http://www.zanzabarlouisville.com/