MIA ZAPATA MEETS DOC WATSON McCurdy.
Singer-songwriter Keith McCurdy corralled an impressive host of friends to plug in and rock-the-fuck-out on Vudu Sister's brand-new sophomore effort, Household Items, the fantastic follow-up to the 2012 Vudu debut Bastard Children and the debut release from the Columbus Recording Company (more on them soon), a new DIY label spearheaded by Low Anthem members Jeff Prystowsky and Ben Knox-Miller. While we were quick to crown Vudu Sister as a stellar "indie-folk" band the first time around, McCurdy has made it abundantly clear that Household Items is a full-blown garage rock album.
McCurdy had been touch over the past few months with updates on the new record, and each email would include a reminder of the new direction, citing "an aesthetic departure from the debut due to a complete, live, raw rock band sound with punk and alternative undertones," referencing bands like Sonic Youth, the Breeders and, of course, Nirvana each time. While the often raw and introspective subject matter remains intact (insanity, death, violence, emotional turmoil), McCurdy acknowledged "a raw and visceral edge not captured before, due to the limitations of soft, boring, and acoustic melodrama." McCurdy elaborated when we spoke earlier this week.
"When the 'indie-folk' thing kinda broke out a few years ago, I found it to be refreshing and really inspiring, but I knew I wanted to develop a more aggressive sound on my next record," he said. The 27-year-old North Providence native worships at the altar of Cobain, and the new album is grungy and grimy in all the right places.
After Knox-Miller purchased a copy of Bastard Children last year and he developed a close friendship with McCurdy, he jumped onboard the new project, serving as engineer and producer. Fellow TLA co-founder Prystowsky helped out with upright bass duties, along with familiar names like Bryan Minto (harmonica, banjo), percussion), TLA's Tyler Osbourne, and guitarist Damien Puerini (formerly of Joe Fletcher's Wrong Reasons crew). And McCurdy repeatedly commended best friend Alex Garzone (who will open the CD release show under new solo project Divey) as a key contributor. The album was recorded in the Columbus Theatre in just five days, with McCurdy utilizing empty dressing rooms beneath the main stage to record vocals. He has a distinct delivery that he has referred to as "a strange amalgamation that teeters between Mia Zapata [the Gits] and Doc Watson."
I checked in with Knox-Miller via email: "It was easy to record those guys, because the music came out of them so naturally. Keith had to get something off his chest with these songs. He had to deal with ghosts from his childhood and put down his reflections on it. The energy streamed out of him, and all I had to do was hold out the bag. He had no problem dredging it all up."
The Low Anthem handpicked Vudu Sister as one of the acts to represent the "Newport Homegrown" stage at the Folk Fest on July 26. McCurdy will be doing a solo tour with Dan Blakeslee ("financially it's more feasible than traveling with the band right now," he noted) starting on May 5, but rest assured he and his mates will be plugging in and rocking out this weekend at the Columbus.