Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Luck Of Eden Hall And Butterflies

When psychedelic rock veterans Greg Curvey (vocals/guitar) and Mark Lofgren (vocals/bass) from The Luck Of Eden Hall sat down with Mike Hagler at Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago, they had this ambitious idea to produce a double album. They had enough songs. But not enough studio time.

So when the first album, Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 1, came together perfectly and the second part didn't hold up, they cut it loose. But now, what may have seemed like a painful decision at the time is starting to look fortuitous.

"Vol. 2 had a couple of its teeth pulled so we could add a few golden crowns," says Curvey. "I honestly don't recall which songs were added, but we did remix and cut some length out of Metropolis, which really helped make it a standout track."

Metropolis is the perfect intro to a dreamy psychedelic ride.

Metropolis is one of several standout tracks on Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2, which has a dreamier and more cohesive feel than the one released last July. It came together with nothing more than bass riff, which Curvey quickly accompanied. They laid it down, memorized the idea, and moved on.

"When we got back to it, Mark had been teaching a class and showed Metropolis to his students that day," Curvey said. "We started writing lyrics and he had a vocal line that was different from the one I came up with, so he wrote lyrics for his line and I went to another room and wrote lyrics for my line."

Then they recorded each track separately. They played them back together. Something happened.

Not every track on Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2 happened by chance and circumstance. Over the course of their 23-year history together, they've learned to work in very different ways. On this album, for example, North Hampton Woods is all Lofgren. A Drop In The Ocean is Curvey.

The early beginnings of a turbulent and triumphant band. 

The two longtime bandmates know how they want to produce music, unfettered by times and trends. They have always known it, ever since they first met in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Curvey was playing with Bruce Zimmerman and Tom Null in a band called Midwest. Lofgren was playing in Curvey's best friend's band, Murder of Crows.

"He decided to move to Chicago and we started gigging and recording some songs at CRC with the great Iain Burgess (Naked Raygun, Ministry)," said Curvey. "Carlos Mendoza [drummer] joined the band about four years ago when we were promoting the Clock CD. But I think the band sounds better than ever!"

Mendoza wasn't a stranger to the pair. When other drummers like Paul Healy and Joe Furlong played with The Luck Of Eden Hall, Mendoza was playing in bands that shared bills with them, including The Proud, which was fronted by another friend of Curvey's.

Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2 has several groove-laden standouts. 

Curvey is right too. The band that has stood in the center of the Chicago music scene for the better of two decades does sound better with every release. It's almost as if time has caught up with their noise.

A Drop In The Ocean, a song inspired by climate change and melting ice caps, chugs along effortlessly from one mini jam into another, perfectly spaced by some of Curvey's finest low and distorted vocals. It's brilliant. The Ottoman Girl, inspired by his love for all things Middle Eastern, plays deliriously on the double meaning of the word. And the light and airy North Hampton Woods adds in the perfect contrast, much like the piano ballad Henrietta Lacks A Smile.

Even with pulling out more singles, like Flowers or Realization Loop, one thing becomes certain through all their flashes of brilliance or minor imperfections. Curvey, Lofgren, and Mendoza know how to put down an album. On Vol. 1, give a listen to Velvet And Corduroy, Blue Vinyl, and Medicine Queen.

"I like a record that takes you places," says Curvey. "Fast and loud, slow and dreamy, especially if it's all in the same song!"

Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2 Breezes In At 5.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

There are some moments that some songs stumble around a bit, but mostly it's because these guys love to jam and drop stuff in. There is no doubt they love the music. The band even has its head wrapped around its next album. Keep an eye out for Alligators Eat Lollipops, maybe even here.

You can find Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2 by The Luck Of Eden Hall on iTunes. Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 2 can also be downloaded from Amazon. Give a listen to Butterfly Revolutions, Vol. 1 too. The cover art, by the way, was inked by Curvey, who is an accomplished graphic artist. Lofgren is also a videographer. Mendoza teaches. You'd never know it to see them live.
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