Scott and I first met about 10 years ago at a porno theater in Portland, Maine. Okay, so it was a converted porno theater (only in the previous few weeks... it was pretty disgusting, actually) the owners were trying to turn into a music venue, and he was playing on a bill with Baby Ray and Ross Phasor. When I look back on it, that was also the first time I met Sean Hennessey, Ken Lafler, Paul Hilcoff, and Eric Groat as well, which actually is pretty epic considering the amount of time/shows/trips/basketball that resulted. Well, Scott was on fire that night, and I can honestly say I was first a fan and later a friend. Before getting back to Boston, I got both Scott's original demo tape (Detour on the Way to Being Human), and his Slippy Keane demo tape, and I was sold.
So as the years have moved along, Scott has gone solo, into Aura Phase, then back solo. I kept listening to his demo tapes and encouraging him to release something. And thus we come to New Lights. (Yes, I just condensed approximately ten years into three sentences.)
Objectively, I am happy to say that this album is excellent. Great pop songs, smart lyrics, and happiness, sadness, and angst. Quiet and loud, it offers a little for all and plenty for most. And it's got singles: "Dinner 1," "Number 16," and one of the best songs you've never heard, "Kitten's Got Curves."
If I was going to criticize something here, it would have to be the track order. The album works, but in this order it plays better:
- DC -- very versatile, nice vocals, previews acoustic and electric for the album
- Dinner 1
- Cable Knit
- Kitten's Got Curves -- 'nuff said
- Dinner 2 -- after the high of Kitten, this works very nicely and wraps up the narrative of D1/D2
- Sky Blue and Black -- to this point, tonally, 1 & 4 are "upbeat", 3 & 5 are "downers", and 2 is "neutral-upbeat"; so a "lighter" works nicely right here
- New Lights -- keeping the balance, we go softer again
- #16 -- needs some space from "Kitten" and really punches up the energy here; the anchor for the back half
- Temporary Condition -- works great off "#16"
- Blind Spot
- Other Explorations
- Ultra-violet -- REALLY works as the last song: a little whimsical, and very interesting musically; even the first note
In the end: get this album at CD Baby or iTunes. I've had it for two years and if anything I love it more now than I did when I got it. Friend or not, I can objectively say Scott's album is great.
Merch Rating: I would buy the single with b-sides that's never going to be released, as well as the entire box set I'll never get a hold of. I'll also buy the vinyl he's never going to press, the poster he's never going to commission Sheppard Fairey to create, and the t-shirt he's never going to send to Taiwainese laborers to sell for $10 a pop. It's a rich, wonderful, and totally spend-free world I live in.
CD Placement Rating: This has sat in my car CD changer through many a culling, and unfortunately still sits there as the damn thing is now broken. It will remain there for quite some time even after I fix it.
Scott Bishop and Pie Factor Five will be appearing on May 21st at Porter Belly's in Brighton at 9PM.