Wednesday, March 14, 2018

All-around Breakdown: Super Hi-Fi Bandleader & Bass Player Ezra Gale Breaks Down New Album Blue & White (Very Special Recordings)

I've personally, been rockin' out to Super Hi-Fi's new album, Blue & White—which is out today on Very Special Recordings—since January thanks to Alex Pastuhov at Behind The Curtains Media. Luckily, I've had time to sit with the album and digest it's complex Reggae/Rock-fusing stylings. Blue & White was recorded directly to tape at Jersey City-based 9 Lives Studios with engineer Nicola Stemmer; bandleader and bassist Eza Gale produced the album himself, which features the talents of fellow Super Hi-Fi bandmates Rick Parker, Robert Stringer, Jon Lipscomb, Ezra Gale, and Madhu Siddappa, as well as a crew of talented friends and musically-inclined associates. Collectively, Super Hi-Fi's members have played alongside a wide array of artists, including Beyoncé, Curren$y, Donovan, Bill Frisell, Gregory Porter, and The Skatalites. "Blue & White is an album punctuated by dueling trombones, gut-rattling basslines, and Afrobeat-inspired rhythms," as Behind The Curtains' press release explains. Blue & White, Super Hi-Fi's long-awaited fifth LP—and second of all original material—is their first to fully highlight Gale's distinct voice. For fans of: The Budos Band, The Dead Kenny G's (great band name!) Garage A Trois, John Brown's Body, and The Witzard favorite The Lions.

It's a stark contrast to Super Hi-Fi's last full-length album, 2012's Dub to The Bone, which was strictly instrumental-based; "the vocal element marks a clear evolution in the band's musical aesthetic and demonstrates both creative growth and fearless experimentation." In addition to digital albums on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded streaming platforms, Ezra Gale & Super Hi-Fi have joined forces with frequent collaborator and acclaimed artist Rob Swainston for a special vinyl release. Limited to just 500 screen-printed one-of-a-kind Blue & White LP's, Ezra Gale says the concept "echoes the aesthetic of Dub music, where you have all these variations—versions of the same song—spun out from the same source material." Super Hi-Fi's Blue & White is out now on Very Special Recordings with Swainston's screen-printed LP's still available for pre-order on INDIEGOGO... for just 5 more days! Super Hi-Fi bandleader, bassist, and producer Ezra Gale was kind enough to provide a comprehensive track-by-track breakdown for the entirety of Blue & White, acting as the second volume of The Witzard's All-around Breakdown.

1. "Gone"

"Lyrically, this is a double-meaning song; on the surface, it’s about relationships and pining away for somebody who doesn’t care about you, but it has another meaning, too. We recorded it all onto tape, so when we did Jon Lipscomb’s backwards guitar solo in the middle, we had to get old school with it and flip the reels of tape over, so he could play along, as the song went backwards... trippy!"

2. "Keep It Dirty"

"This one is dedicated to The Dirty Reggae Party, which is a sort of Punk/Reggae party-throwing crew here in Brooklyn that we’ve hooked up with. I think this was written after the first party of their's that we played. It’s just about the energy and community in the room."

3. "Dub to The Bone"

"Our first album is called Dub to The Bone and we recorded this for that album, but we weren’t quite happy with the version. This time, we got it right and so, here it is. I know it’s weird to put the title track to one album on another album, but if Led Zeppelin can do it—the song "Houses of The Holy" is on the album Physical Graffiti, not on Houses of The Holy!—then, we can, too."

4. "Fergie"

"This one features my bandmates from the Country band, Bourbon Sprawl: Drew Fleming & Vincent Giangola sing with me here and Jeff Lampert plays the amazing pedal steel solo. I think Country and Reggae or Ska go together really well, for some reason, so this seemed like a natural. This is another double-meaning song; on the surface, it’s about a bad relationship you stay in just to save someone else from the other person."

5. "Revenge of The Whales"

"The original title of this one was "60 Seconds of Tape Left" because we literally, had about a minute-worth of tape at the end of a session, so we improvised something to fill it up."

6. "Blue & White"

"The title track has a lot of elements I love: a programmed drum loop, my wife, Erica singing back-up vocals(!), Mitch Marcus playing some Wurlitzer keyboard and an incredible noise guitar solo from Jon [Lipscomb]. Lyrically, this was written right around the time of the Eric Garner killing and The NYPD protests against the mayor—that’s where the "Blue & White" comes from."

7. "Little Black Book"

"This one began life as a song by my solo project, The Eargoggle. Madhu Siddappa (drummer) suggested we turn it into a Super Hi-Fi song and I'm glad he did. I wrote it after getting a parking ticket and I was trying to have empathy for the meter maids and be less angry at them... it worked, for a while, anyway!"

8. "Space Needle"

"This one was written for our album Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana and there’s a very different mix of it on that album. It’s the only original on that album and it’s supposed to sound like a Nirvana song. The full mix that Victor Rice did was so good, though, that we had to include it here."

9. "Gale Caution"

"We cover a classic old Jamaican Rocksteady song in our live sets by Lynn Taitt called "Storm Warning." This is kind of a rip-off of that song, hence the title."

10. "Hole In My Life"

"We released a single version of this Police song last year on a Record Store Day 45 with The Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping" on the other side, but this long version was so good and so different—and the solos by Jon [Lipscomb] and trombonist Robert Stringer here are so amazing!—that we had to put it on this record."

11. "Biking to Bushwick"

"This has been our live set closer for a long time. I wrote this in my head years ago, when I was, in fact, riding a bike home to Bushwick in Brooklyn. I had the idea that all the different sections were the different neighborhoods I was riding through and we finally, got a recorded version that matched what we do live, I think."

12. "Son of Revenge of The Whales"

"This is Part II of our "60 Seconds of Tape Left" group improv."

- Ezra Gale (Super Hi-Fi/The Eargoggle)

Again, Super Hi-Fi's Blue & White is now available on Bandcamp, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers, as well as Rob Swainston's 500 hand screen-printed Blue & White 12-inche LP's from INDIEGOGO. Note: Super Hi-Fi's Bandcamp page additionally, features an exclusive "Blue & White" remix from Reggae/Dancehall producer, vocalist, and John Brown's Body guitarist Jay "Double Tiger" Spaker.

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