Monday, November 29, 2004

My Educated Remains - "I Have Made A 40 Minute Sonic Mess"

This fellow Douglas Wolk, a man I know little about, cooked up the idea that November would (now and forever more) become known as National Solo Album Month. It's a play off of the National Novel Writing Month idea and a damn good one because, let's face it, not everyone has the same skills. Can the butcher also paint a bungalow? Perhaps, but not always. In fact, maybe we should just declare November to be National Use Your Talent To Create Some Sort Of Substantial Artistic Endeavor Month. Whether it be a book, an album, a bird house, or a comprehensive family tree. But damnit the acronym would be too long. Let's not get too far off course. Let's let Wolk define the parameters.

I took part in this project because I am always eager to justify more recording projects. Here, with NaSoAlMo, was another reason not to schedule that dentist appointment or get the leaves out of the gutter. To the basement! And with good reason!

My completed solo album is titled "My Educated Remains." Here is the [unfolded] sleeve artwork:

MER consists of three songs totalling about 40 minutes. I would like to state right now that it is one of the weirdest things I have ever heard. It's a sprawling sonic mess and I can't tell if it's unlistenable or one of the best things I've ever recorded. At some point I decided I didn't want my contribution to NaSoAlMo to be anything like what I usually do therefore the logical thing was to throw my idea of 'songs' out the window. I was also multitasking. I had been planning on creating some sort of sound scape that would play during live shows when the Stairs had to tune their instruments. I decided MER would be my solo album and function as that soundscape. There are now two birds, dead on the ground, and I have only used one stone.

Some of the tools used to create "My Educated Remains": Electric Air Organ, Hamer Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, Gibson Acoustic Guitar, Recorder, Sticks, Harmonica, Melodica, Voice, Samples, Rogue Moog, Thumb Piano, Samsung Television, Milk Crate, and Typewriter. I limited myself to a maximum of three tracks for each song and each subsequent track had to be a response to the previous one without any second takes of anything. I recorded this record on November 15th 2004. I woke up around 9 AM. I had some coffee and set up my equipment. It was a lovely day with lots of sun coming into my bed room. I believe I was in my pajamas the entire time. It felt pretty close to approaching pure creation instinct and it was a really freeing project to take part in. Congratulations to everyone who completed their solo album. This was fun.

On the off chance that you would actually like to subject your ears to "My Educated Remains" you can email me for my mailing address [remains at] and send me a blank disc and I will mail MER to you complete with the cover sleeve. I gurantee you, at the very least, this music will get a reaction out of your cat.

Here's to loud noises and the beauty of atonal swirls in my bedroom.
-Ryan Walsh

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Missed Connection

You: reconfiguring the chemical make-up of nitrogen. Long brown hair which turned into ropes and laces near the bottom. Eye patch with "Closed For Repairs" sticker on it (very cute!) Southern accent but only speaks French (I bet there's a story there!) Tattoo of a man in trouble on your right ankle. Reading a copy of "Let Us Praise Famous Men" with 4 more copies of the same book next you on the 66 bus. Traveling through time last night in Coolidge Corner at around 3:14 and 8:25. Putting nitrogen back the way it was. Invading my personal space at the Wendy's in Central Square. Left me a blank note in my MBTA Employee locker. Dancing, always fucking dancing. Making the radio play good music instead of shit. Stole my parking spot but gave me a french kiss before scaling the fence and escaping into the night. Bewitching me all night long on the craziest frigging D train you'd ever want to be on. Saw you bowling. Saw you painting your own pottery. Saw you color coding my wardrobe before vanishing into thin air with my own personal version of shyness. Listen, you, or you's me. You are ten times better than the sexy former Ms.Nevada who works at the Somerville Ground Round. You rock my world in a much larger way than the petite blonde playing eye-contact-rodeo with me on the Chinatown bus back from New York City. You load romantic ideas about the coffee shop girl with tear tattoos into a cannon and shoot them all the way to Rhode Island. I cannot get them back now. You have committed arson and burned down the house in which all the memories of my former girlfriends lived. You will not be arrested for this crime, my friend works for the Boston police deaprtment, plus the house only existed inside my head. I am on pause until you slow down for one moment and tell me your name. I have vague plans to break my own legs if I do not meet you before Christmas time. I am in Rapture and I'm using that in the old sense of the word. Come on, come out, come in.

If you need more details about who YOU are please write me.

Ladies & Gentlemen This Is Bullshit

Matt Parish (Ho-Ag) vs Ryan Walsh (Stairs) - The Interview

Two Obscure Boston Musicians Jabber Away For An Hour Or So

Matt Parish (Ho-Ag)

Ryan Walsh (Stairs)


RW: How's it going?

MP: It's going okay, I just had an hour and a half
lunch meeting with Joel Roston on Boston Commons
eating sandwiches from Falafel King. We ridiculed
passerby and watched young activist confront
a man driving a truck around with various wooden
signs attached declaring "Militant Islam Evil,"
"Homosexuality is a Sin" and "Kerry is Unfit."

RW: That reminds of a sign I saw last week while
walking the Freedom Trail. I had friends in from out
of town and they wanted to walk the trail so off we
went. There was a guy in front of the state house
with a giant banner that read "Stop Gay Marriage" and
he had a little boom box with some music playing.
Ironically, the music was very very gay. Here's a
little known fact about the Freedom Trail. If you
walk it backwards you become British.

MP: That's funny, I would have thought that if you
walked it backwards, you'd end up losing all free
will. And the ironic thing is that of course you had
no free will in the first place, you'd just spent the
past two hours following a thin red line through
various twists and turns, never leaving its dogmatic
trajectory through a city tempting you at every moment
to stray for a bit and check out maybe some weird sound
you heard coming from behind a fence across the street
from Paul Revere's house or to go talk to that attractive
person calling your name from the tenth story window on
Park St. No, just stick to the path, right? This is no trail that
leads to Freedom! So we have learned that my initial premise
is completely wrong and the British joke was by far simpler
and made more sense.

Back to the anti-Homos van, of course he was playing
excessively gay music as well.

RW: That's something I found shocking. My adherence
to the red line. It's not like you need to walk
directly on it but I found if I strayed too far from
it I felt uneasy. I remember getting to the site of
the Boston Massacre and feeling let down by the low
number of deaths that occured. "That's not a
massacre" I thought outloud. I immediately felt like
a desensitized pompous American. So, in a way, The
Freedom Trail, for all it's easy-to-swallow tourism
infotainment nuggets revealed some interesting
things, to me, about being an American.

MP: Yes, well, on to other things--Trevor Dunn is
playing bass (in a duo with a harp player) tonight at
the Zeitgeist. Too bad the Stairs like to practice
so much . . . How efficient do you think Stairs prac-
tices are? I'd give Ho-Ag a 60 rating.

RW: We're usually very on task. Not that it's like
school or work. I think you just need to
instinctively know if free form wankery is going to
lead to something or not. If it's not then cut the
crap and work on the songs. If the mood is right then
keep noodling because you'll probably come up with
something good. A drunk practice where you play loud
and sloppy can be just as productive as a sober
examination of the set.

MP: If that's how you want to look at it, that's
fine. Ho-Ag usually begins a practice with ten minutes of
trying to fix someone's amp or guitar. Then a trip to the
convenience store for Gatorade. Then we will play all the
songs we know how to play. thena;slkf ew.....well I just went
downstairs and ate some free ice cream bars that my
work has been giving away today, along with free snack food
all week to appease those of us working during the
DNC. I tell you here and now: the DNC is the best thing to
happen to my economy in ages. Back to Ho-Ag practice,
though: comment. The kid from the Stairs
usually tells us what to do.

RW: Ah, that's a good segue into Eric. We share a
drummer. Sort of. How did this all start?

MP: Well, we have no drummer. We can't even get along
with each other, much less an outsider. Therefore, no
one wants to be our drummer. The ones who do are not
right for us. Luckily, Eric is the best drummer I've
ever played with and conveniently already has his
drums set up in our practice space. Plus, he likes the way
Ho-Ag music sounds, even if playing in the band yields
him no more chicks than playing in the Stairs
(probably less). He is a fine fellow, though, and amazingly
can play right in line with both bands and sound
pretty natural, even though the drum parts are like
absolutely nothing alike. How did all this start with
Eric and the Stairs? The first I ever heard of him
was in 1999 when you recorded the first Mr. Pistol thing
on the Tascam and you were like "There's this guy I
knew from high school playing drums with us now" and I was
all jealous of it. That's how I relate to all my friends'
bands--I'm either very jealous of whatever creative
success they're having or I'm very suspicious of them for not
seeming to have been doing a sufficient amount of work
lately, like we made some pact to always be working on
new stuff and now they're breaking it up or something.

RW: I've know Eric since preschool. We both got
kicked of the National Honor Society on the same day
in high school and formed a shitty cover band. I was
awful and he was amazing. That ended after 1 show.
Two and 1/2 years later I showed up at his doorstep
with a 4 track recorder and we've been working pretty
closely since.

Once in 7th grade my friend Anthony offered Eric $10
to drink a concotion of his creation and Eric gave it
a shot. It had eggs, tomato juice, vinegar, pepper,
butter, chocolate powder, olives...this awful drink
they cooked up for Eric. And he got about 3/4ths of
the way through it and threw up. I waltzed in the
door, drank the last gulp, and was awarded the ten
dollars. Eric was horrified. I think he had a chance
to make $5 by eating some leaves off a tree. Which he
did. That was a lot of money for us. You could buy a
pack of Upper Decks or an "Image" glossy cover comic
book with that kind of money. So my impression of our
working relationship is that he's just waiting for the
proper time to get back at me for that incident.

MP: $5 could have probably bought you 2 Image comics,
like Maxx and maybe some Spawn. I think Maxx was the
only good one, looking back on it all. But that's what
is awesome about Eric--he's a doer not a talker,
although he talks, too. Like "I don't think this part is any
good," that kind of thing.

There's no one in Ho-Ag that I've known since
preschool, although I met Tyler for the first time in 5th grade
and the first time we ever hung out was probably in 6th or
7th grade watching MST3K and stuff. But there is a kid
from my neighborhood who used to fall asleep and talk in
his sleep during sleepovers and get ridiculed in that
state. But wasn't there always a kid like that? Now that I
think about it, it's probably just like Ouija boards--whenever a
bunch of kids are sleeping around, there's at least one person
who can't resist acting like they're sleepwalking and stuff,
admitting to crushes on other kids' older sisters' etc..,
What would sleepovers be without that?

RW: Probably very much like going to bed any other
night except that your friends would be in the room
with you. I used to sleepover one friend's house and
his brother would hire us to do illegal things like
remove stop signs he disapproved of. We would always
be payed in Dominator pizzas. Remember those things?
Large, rectangles of tastless pizza. Have you ever
seen a ghost Matt?

MP: The only ghost I've ever seen is the one in the
bathroom when you turn the lights off and look in the
mirror and say Bloody Mary over and over. Some
thought it was Satan, some thought it was Bloody Mary,
my one friend thought it was an Indian ghost coming back for
revenge against the people living on his land and
misappro- priating his image for high school sports apparel.

Other than that, I don't think so. I'm in a band
called Krap Ghos', but that's only the musical ghost.
Why, have you seen ghosts?

RW: I'll tell you later. Do you like writing songs?
What do you like to write about? How do you write
songs? Do you enjoy any beverages during the
songwriting process?

MP: Fine, tell me later, I can keep things off the
record if you can.

I like to write about all sorts of things, but mostly
people escaping death through either extraordinary
physical achievements or mental cunning. That pervades
a good amount of Ho-Ag lyrical material, although recent
songs have taken a turn toward the battle of man versus both
nature, machines and fate. Ho-Ag is quite like a high
school English class in that regard. I have problems
writing about specific things, which you're really good at.
You can pinpoint things and write a quick verse about
some tiny aspect of someone's life, or even just some
quick line that can suggest a whole story.

I feel like when I get going, things just build up on top
each other and maybe don't suggest anything too vivid
by themselves but if you kind of force them together,
you might start to see a shadow of whatever kernel i was
starting out with. That's kind of the goal, anyway.
I try and understate things, skirt around whatever the main
idea of the song is, which is funny because, musically, Ho-Ag
is about as overstated as you can get, I feel like.

As far as the actual mechanics of writing songs goes,
I have yet to find a regular method to doing anything. The
best thing I've found so far is to just have a little tape
recorder around and kind of make it a goal to sketch one or two
things out on an acoustic guitar as often as possible--little
riffs, chord progressions and singing over them, whatever--
and then go over it all once it gets filled up, just to
scavange whatever I can out of it. I like starting with big
full chord progressions and stripping them down to a sparse
bass line and minimal guitar stuff that just barely hints at
that progression. I've done that successfully: twice I think.
Otherwise, I pretty much deal almost solely in rhythms and
abrasive-sounding harmonies. Ho-Ag stuff is super concentrated
in rhythm first and foremost and usually the melodies are like
the very last things to even get thought about in songs. I think
being in a band where your music is so much about the vocal melody
would be terrifying, how do you do that?

RW: Well, for starters, I'm required to, by law, per
order of the judge who demanded the creation of this
band that I'm in. For Real Answer: That's the aspect
of music I've been most attracted to since I became an
active "music listener" and so that's what I've tried
to emulate since then. I think if the thing that got
me off most about music, when I was little, had been
wicked wild guitar solos then that would have been
what I practiced and copied and eventually tried to
write on my own. I was the only kid who listened to
Weird Al Yankovic for the melodies (totally unaware
that they were available in versions not about eating
too much or too many people on a public bus). So when
it came down to finding some angsty music to kind of
provide the soundtrack to my own lame mini-rebellion I
found stuff like Faith No More records which, even
though they're loud and better known for other
dynamics, are full of amazing melodies.

So, when I'm writing songs for the band it's very rare
that I concentrate on anything but lyric and melody
(and a basic chord progression to hang it on). All of
the dynamics and shifts don't come around until I
bring it to the band. That's what that Hierarchy Of
Hoaxes disc I made last summer was all about. Forcing
me to create and execute full arrangements by myself.
But I'd rather do it with the band because a)they're
better at it and b)it's more fun that way.

And lastly, sure, I'll tell you now that I believe I
have seen a ghost.

MP: That's good that you saw a ghost, where was it?

Also--that's interesting that it starts out with what
you liked about music as a kid, because the first music I
really liked as a kid was rap, like Run DMC and stuff
from Breakin' and even like Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff,
De La Soul, Public Enemy-stuff that generally has no melody
whatsoever except for like a horn sample or something.
When I started liking punk stuff, it was really the less melodic
and shout-along type stuff that I was into--Black Flag and
Dead Kennedys (who hide most of their melody in the guitar lines I
guess), Minor Threat, etc.., Faith No More was probably the
main thing that got me interested in weird, big commanding
melodies, too--which is weird because that's obviously not what
they're so known for.

Back to your beverages thing--I mostly down tons of
coffee (always) or tea (wintertime) during writing alone.
Especially when writing lyrics, I take a lot of things from
books and magazines and need lots of caffeine to stay focused
while hunting through things trying to find connections.

I always picture someone being able to look at the
words to a song and being able to find all the sources
for all the different lines. We've been writing a lot of
stuff together lately, though, and that usually is fueled by
Gatorade for some weird reason.

RW: It's summertime, Gatorade can be very refreshing.
Well, at this point I think we should round this up
with some rapid & succint one sentence questions.
What's your favorite album to play right before going
to visit a loved one in jail?

MP: Rain Dogs. What's your favorite live bootleg

RW: Faith No More live at Modjeska Theater where the
fight between the bouncers, band, and fans breaks out.
Roddy Bottum's got quite an uppercut. What's the
worst part about not having the Pony Express anymore
in this country?

MP: The worst part about that is, I guess, that our
mail smells like mail room workers' hands instead of
hay now. Why do you regret never joining the Merchant

RW: The Generous pay and the fact that they would've
let me bring my guitar. What can you keep in a

MP: I know from experience that I can keep candy bars
in a drawer. Also, photos of friends and enemies.
What's your favorite brand of pencil?

RW: Dixon Ticonderoga. Tried & True. How many
members of Ho-Ag does it take to screw in a light

MP: One to screw in the light bulb, one to wait for
the first one to leave and redo it without telling them,
and one to check email to see if anyone replied to the
latest drummer wanted ads. Stairs?

RW: One to get a grant to buy the lightbulb, one to go
lightbulb installation school, and one to accidentally drop it.
Luckily, the fourth Stair tape records the whole thing and it's
worth sitting in the dark for.

The 5 Times I Almost Died

Hello, my name is Ryan Walsh and I play guitar in the Stairs. I have also nearly died a total of five different times. I feel lucky to be alive. In order to show my gratefulness for continued life I will share with you the stories of the five times I almost died.

The Five Times I Almost Died

1. A German Shepard knocks me down in 1987 and tears the everliving shit of my head/ear. I hold the ear onto my head on the way to the OR. I lost a lot of blood. At first the dog was being friendly towards me and the suddenly it looked at me with evil in its eye. He went right for the ear - tried to Van Gough me.

2. I attempt to jump a small chain between wooden posts and land face down onto the pavement in the 4th grade. Smash out my front two teeth and my upper lip splits in two. This is not life threatening in itself. But the plastic surgeon forgot to put me on antibiotics and the wound became infected. It came close to spreading to my head in which case I would've been a goner. I was in the hospital for weeks. They used to come in twice a day to use a syringe like device full of water to inject into the wounded bloody lip in order to clean it and make me scream like all holy hell. The hospital had Nintendo however. Home did not. Being in the hospital was not so bad and I didn't know, at the time, that I almost died.

3. 7th grade. I fell through some ice up in New Hampshire. I was on a trip with a church group. There were no adults around and I smartassed my way onto the ice. Crack. Sink. All the other kids just watched not knowing what to do. I was clawing at the ice shards trying to get a grip and get to solid ground. I remember screaming, "I'm not gonna die! I'm not gonna die!" over and over. I finally got some fingers dug into some shore dirt and pulled myself out.

4. 10th grade. I make friends with the older kids in school and they invite me one night to play a game called "Fuck The Rich." Basically that involved driving to rich neighborhoods and driving all over their lawns. One guy came out of his house wearing a bathrobe and holding a crow bar. He sunk the crowbar right into the car door but we still escaped with the crowbar still hanging out of the car. However, later that night the driver decided to steal gas. The cops caught up to us and we tried to outdrive them. We were going 80 MPH down small curvy sidestreets and we smashed directly into a brick wall. No one was wearing seatbelts. No one was hurt. I'd classify it as a miracle frankly. For some reason, even after the crash, we decided to try to push the car into hiding to evade the cops. Moments later the entire town of Dedham's police force had us surrounded. The driver was arrested. The cops were gleeful when he began to cry and tell them that the vehicle was his father's company car. Being the only minor of the group I was the only one who had to be brought home by a cop. My parents had just gotten home from vacation and were not happy. All the rest of the kids (besides the driver) tore out the page with the story in the Monday edition of the town newspaper to avoid trouble. I had minor neck and head aches but no one was seriously hurt. Which is bizarre. As if that wasn't enough trauma for one god fearing New England I was to almost die one more time come the year 2004.

5. 2004. On my bike on the pedestrian foot bridge in Allston that covers the Mass Pike. I sped down the ramp and crossed the street no problem. But I was headed to Harvard Square so I was going down that side street. There was a car coming up that street. To avoid it I swerved and my bike handle hit a telephone pole and I was launched off the bike off into the air. I hit the ground and skidded for about 3 feet. If I had skid 4 feet I would smashed my head into a textiles building and died. Stupidly, I was not wearing a helmet (this was a few months before Kristen Malone's accident in the very same location). An Asian family got out of their car (the car that made me swerve) to see if I was alright. I was dazed and walking around in circles moaning and barking.

I'm not quite sure what I think about psychic's but I'm open to the idea that people are able to sense things about the past and future that we can't with our five senses. That said, there used to be an old gypsy woman who lived in the apartment above mine (this is all true by the way, I know it might sound outlandish). Her name, as she told it to me, was Grandmother. She used to leave me soup in a plastic bag outside of my door (Apparently I took too long to wash the bowls and return them so she had to resort to the bags). Very kind. Once while were out on the front steps of the building she grabbed my palm and began reading it. According to Grandmother I am to live to be very old and die quite peacefully. That's comforting. But has anyone ever been told by a psychic that they're going to die in the near future? I feel like that's "bad for business." Grandmother did this for free however and she had always been truthful to me otherwise. Over the years I became good friends with Grandmother and once had to drive her and her sister around town trying to find this certain deli that sold jewelry from the back of their store. But that's a story for another time. If I'm around to tell it. You never know.

Ryan Walsh - November 2004

Befuddle Your Neighbors With Arcane Phrases And Gestures

New Stairs Stuff For Sale: Hats, Lunch Boxes, Shirts

Go here to browse the new Merch:

Be the envy of the other members of the jury! Make your wife do a double take! Help us go on tour!

CD's & The Original T-Shirt on sale here

All Of The Older Albums - Yours For The Taking

{note: Jan 1 2005 - We've closed this down for now - it was a fun experiment and perhaps we'll do it again at some point. If one of the albums below especially intrigues you drop us a line and we'll work something out}


The Stairs are currently keeping a Soul Seek folder open and running 24 hours a day 7 days a week to let you download hundreds of new and old Stairs songs for free. Firstly, if you don't know SoulSeek, go here and find out: With this sharing program not only are you able to hear songs you normally couldn't find anywhere else but you'll also be able to leave us messages and even let us hear some of your music. It's all very exciting.

So once you've downloaded SoulSeek and have it up and running search for username 'Factorytim' and that's us. Browse our files, take what you'd like, leaves us a message, etc. If you cannot find our SS account or are having trouble browsing our files please email:

"We really do write and record hundreds of songs a year" said an unnamed member of The Stairs, "but we only get to release about one album a year. Since we're an independent band (read: broke) it's impossible to release more than that. But with SoulSeek we're able to do this. It's like cheating death, really, or at least giving him a really bad paper cut."

The officially released albums in The Stairs Discography are:

"Miraculous Happens"

"Chime Away"

The Motel Candlewasters "Hierarchy Of Hoaxes"

Everything thing else in the folder, whether it be The Stairs, The Motel Candlewasters, or The Ransome Brothers is not an official release in our discography. These other albums are collections of demos, outtakes, live shows, and collage pieces. While they may never be officially released we'd like you to be able to hear them if you'd like. Most folders also have a jpg. of the original artwork that you can print out for your copy's cover.

The Stairs Unreleased Collections/Albums

"Textbook & The Orange Outside" - An off kilter collage work loosely based on a group of people causing havok in each others' lives during the autumn of 1986. Assembled in 2002 but makes use of material dating back to 1984.

"The Fantastic Inventions Are Buried In The Basement" - A collection of pop and lo-fi folk songs. Features: "Keep This House Happy", "Little Spells", and the song from which the "Chime Away EP" got its title.

"Sweethearts, Darlings, & Famous War Generals" - This is an eleven song collection. Its comprised of bare bone acoustic songs all dealing with the subject matter of girls and wars. Includes "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men", "Moon Song #5", and "Jellyfish Tequila."

"Recorded At Gunpoint" - Demo collection recorded in the winter of 2003. Includes many songs being played in the current live set that have yet to be properly recorded. Includes the much sought after "We're So Underground We're Practically In Japan."

"Here Comes Treble" - Demo collection recorded in Fall 2003. The band bass guitar was in the shop thus the title and the overall sound of this album. Includes, "Absolutely Fucked In Every Possible Way", "The Psychic's Wrong Again", and "It's All Been Downhill Since The Talkies Started To Sing."

"The Unnatural Bridge" - A cover album of The Silver Jews "The Natural Bridge." We got a lot of requests from people looking for this cd, and since we don't sell it, putting it on soulseek is a good solution. D.C. Berman on the album: "Hearing your version of the Natural Bridge was a revelation for me." The original is better, of course, and you really should hear it if you haven't yet.

Ryan Walsh "K Is For Code" - A demo collection from Winter 2002.

"Live Radio Show - Washington, D.C. Summer '04" - This is a live performance on college radio show. The first half is good and then things fall apart. This is a good listen for our detractors or people who like things that crumble.

The Motel Candlewasters "Hierarchy Of B-Sides" All the songs recorded for the Hierarchy Of Hoaxes album that didn't make the cut.

The Ransome Brothers - The Ransome Brothers are comprised of Rob Johanson (ex-Soltero, sometimes Stairs member/collaborator) and Tom Hummel (ex-Soltero) recorded songs in a genre that might be described as traditional folk collides with lo-fi pop.

"The Waning EP"

"We Will Rise EP"

"Cartography LP "

"The Dens Of Our Fathers EP"

The Stairs Present....

"The Complete Recordings Of Dust Johnson" - We don't want to say too much about this. Take a listen and you'll see what we mean. It's "the musical recovery of the year!" according to Ed Morneau.

October 2004

"sheer joy and enthusiasm" alive & well

French Stairs Article Translated Into Proper English

Original Article In French:

English Translation:

"Those of you who are Silver Jews fans might have heard about The Stairs. The Boston band, a self-produced act like thousands of others no one will ever see mentioned anywhere, indeed managed to get a bit of publicity with their cover of the entire The Natural Bridge record, David Berman's second and best album. Without having heard any of it yet, it was safe to assume that we were dealing with people who had rather good taste and were worthy of interest. The result, named The Unnatural Bridge, is unsurprisingly hit-and-miss, but still pretty nice - the band have recently made it available on Soulseek, along with lots of other unreleased albums (more info-myspace link).

But then, when visiting The Stairs' official website, one realizes that this oddity is only a very small part in an already incredibly prolific discography for such a young band, including loads of side-projects with weird and intriguing names. One also realizes that the real first album of the band, Miraculous Happens, got rave reviews from some of the best American webzines, which didn't really enable the band to get a whole lot bigger. Just one listen to the mp3 they have confirms that their relative obscurity is undeserved. We should spread the word.

This year's EP Chime Away, an 8-song cd destined to fill the wait before the parution of a new album in early 2005, is a good occasion to put a spotlight on these guys who declare sounding like "Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Olivia Tremor Control, The Beatles, Camper Van Beethoven and Pavement, even if all those comparisons are lazy and cheap". The fact is, though the record actually brings to mind tons of different bands, it never falls into boring plagiarism. For instance, Stop Me Stop Me Stop Me Stop Me (Before I Get Creative), which should in a logical world become a huge hit (but then again, logic...), sounds quite a bit like The Strokes (especially the intonations in the singing), but looser, more intense, filled with hooks and most of all fun. A hit then, some urgent listening. Memory School, which starts off as an almost sappy melancholic ballad only to shift towards a noisy finale, sounds more like Eels, but not even Mister E deals with such a dark brand of humour to evoke somewhat twisted childhood memories: "La la la la/It was the best of times/It was the worst night of your life/La la la la/Your mother chased you 'round with a big old kitchen knife ". Ryan Walsh and his group confirm their skill at the art of counterpoint during one of the best tracks of this record, The Aunts And Uncles Of Three and its catchy cheap synth riff : the opening line going "We're officially bored for the rest of our lives" whereas the sheer joy and enthusiasm of the band is almost palpable.

Chime Away, then, a joyous mess, where one can find a bit of Pavement's slacker spirit, a bit of the ear for melody of some of the Elephant Six bands, fun, energy and talent - largely enough to make up for one or two slightly less inspired moments in the second half of the album. It is strongly advised to go and give a listen to the numerous mp3 available on their webpage, and possibly more (their records being available for very reasonable prices, and sent speedily). A band to support and follow."