For months, veteran Washington State indie label Kill Rock Stars has been trickling out tracks from its thirtieth birthday comp Stars Rock Kill, but over the holidays that trickle became a flood. After a bunch more singles dropped in December, the full album landed on New Year’s Eve. It’s 63 tracks long, all new covers of songs by the label’s artists. Leading the pack was Elliott Smith, who got covered thirteen separate times. And in a sign of the depth of his catalog, every single artist picked a different song.
While it’s odd to categorize a new album as a teaser, it’s hard not to consider Closer To Grey, today’s surprise release from Chromatics, to be just that. In 2015, the band announced that a new album titled Dear Tommy was on the way, going so far as to offer an official track listing. Though several tracks earmarked for it have trickled out since then, the album itself has never been released. Stories of all copies being destroyed have led to comparisons with the the poster child of all that is unreleased, The Beach Boys’ Smile. In this day and age of stand alone song releases and mix tapes, an unreleased album being regarded with such reverence and anticipation is a rarity, and in the case of Chromatics, deserved.
Jackson C.Frank was what you would call a musician’s musician. While his stark, windblown folk sound was revered and respected by his peers during the ’60s, he was for the most part utterly invisible and unappreciated by the general public.
He is primarily remembered as a peripheral character in the lives of far greater known artists. Paul Simon produced his first and only album in 1965. Nick Drake covered no less than 4 of his songs. Sandy Denny, the legendary Fairport Convention vocalist, was romantically involved with him for several years and one of her finest recorded moments is a song about their relationship.
Chromatics have been teasing us with previews of their long awaited album, Dear Tommy. Instead of releasing the album promised to us over a year ago, Chromatics has flirted with our impatience once more, giving us just enough to hold onto hope with their cover of Cyndi Lauper‘s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” for fashion brand MANGO.
Bristol and Berlin based singer-songwriter Anika has only made a few blips on the blogosphere radar, but that won’t be true for long. The singer was tapped by Portishead member and producer Geoff Barrow for his side project, Beak>, and she is releasing a self-titled EP mid-April, which features this gem of a Chromatics cover.
By way of Portland, Oregon, Chromatics have spent the last decade finding their trademark synthpop, post-punk sound. The current lineup features singer Ruth Radelet, guitarist Adam Miller, drummer Nat Walker, and producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel. Today marks the release of their fourth studio album, Kill for Love.