May, 1997. Jeff Buckley, drained from the fraught and aborted efforts to record his second album, turns down an offer from a friend to try recording in Memphis to instead head to Nashville. He’s not sure what he’ll find there, but he’d heard the work of an obscure band called Lambchop, whose 1996 album “How I Quit Smoking” had kept him sane following the crazy Grace tour.
He gets Kurt Wagner’s number, and once Kurt’s finished sanding floors for the day, the two of them meet for a beer or two. Kurt talks about his love for Southern Soul, such as Eddie Hinton, and Jeff’s intrigued, telling Kurt about his mental block trying to write new songs. Kurt suggests they go back to his place, they drink late into the night, listening to old country soul records, Jeff singing along to Kurt’s blue-eyed soul chops on his old Gibson, paid for thanks to a particularly generous customer and some weekend work.
Over the space of a few days they get some songs together. The two of them hook up with the remaining 15 members of Lambchop and record a few demos.
Here’s one, called Parade.
Ok, ok, so the smart ones amongst you will know I’m talking crap. But you have to admit, there’s more than a touch of a mystery Buckley/Wagner crossover in The Antlers album, “Familiars”. The gentle, relaxed semi-acoustic guitar, the swish of the brush on the snare, the horn section, and above all, Peter Silberman’s vocals. He’s one of the few vocalists who has taken what was so special about Jeff Buckley’s vocals and made them his own; not the three-octave range or sudden changes in tone, but the lovely caress at the moments you least expect it.
Antlers have moved on from being a slightly less miserable Interpol to something far more interesting; mixing that Brooklyn sound with the South, and coming up with a truly lovely record. Well done, chaps.
And as an extra bonus, have yourselves a listen to this:
And of course, some early Lambchop, about it all going wrong after doing some acid. Not that I’d ever do such a thing *cough*: