BIG STIR RECORDS is proud to announce the immediate release as of Saturday, September 5, of a brand new EP, THE HOMEBOUND TAPES, from BLAKE JONES, a BSR Founding Father and the leader of Fresno, CA's Blake Jones & The Trike Shop. The six-track collection, a song cycle from, of, and about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on everyday life, is available on CD and digital download at www.bigstirrecords.com/store and everywhere now!
Jones, famed for the “art-infected pop” and community-based ethos that defines The Trike Shop, recorded these tracks at home in his famed Whispermaphone Studios and has assembled them to document and present his unique take on this most unusual of summers. In explaining the creative process, Blake says, “An EP may not be a grand encyclopedic work, but some short stories are just enough. Just right. This group of songs was conceived and recorded during the lockdown and pandemic of Spring/Summer 2020. It's a more introverted work than my usual output with The Trike Shop. I think The Trike Shop is often a communiqué with the community. This is more of a personal work made where we were all entering a personal/family/safe time. I hope it speaks to you.”
It's personal, it's quirky, it's heartfelt, and it could only be created by Jones. Turning on a pair of tunes, the delicate opening “The Last Song Of Summer” and the penultimate (and downright exuberant) “The First Song Of Summer”, it's also got Stonesy local social commentary (“Three Jerks In A Jeep”), a characteristic theremin instrumental (“Do The Lockdown Bossa Nova”), and an aching rootsy pandemic-era road song, “Homebound”, remotely co-written with Rex Broome of THE ARMOIRES. And it closes with a benedictory message of hope, in “Make Peace”. Call the record a microcosm of Fresno, or even the USA, at the height of the multiple ongoing crises, refracted through the lens of Mr. Jones' camera obscura.
“It started as a tongue-in-cheek, self-imposed challenge to keep me sane and focused on positive, forward motion as the world slowed down – 'I declare that I shall write and record an entire album within one month!' -- but it quickly changed into something else,” Blake explains. “The story goes, that John Lennon wrote, recorded, and even released his 1970 single "Instant Karma" in 10 days, so I had that as my inspiration. The first couple of weeks were full of collecting little bits and pieces of lyrics and music as I played around on the piano and the guitar. Then, a few songs warranted a deeper dive.”
“I guess this a kind of a 'solo' release, but that doesn't mean friends/musical partners didn't contribute. JOHN SHAFER (of The Trike Shop) throws his drum-magic on a couple of tracks, and ROGER PERRY plays mandolin on 'Homebound'. Speaking of which, “Homebound” wouldn't have even been a song without Rex Broome. I had a snatch of a tune – a very traditional-sounding melody for the verse. I sent it to Rex. Hey worked up a complete and deeply personal set of lyrics, telling the story of his parents selling his family's long-time home in West Virginia and finding themselves moving to a new home in Florida during the uncomfortable times that began the lockdown. Thank you, Rex – it became the perfect story to base this whole little song cycle on.”
The EP “opens with the closing” in “Last Song Of Summer”, checks in via the instrumental on “the slowed-down, not always so bad, groove of staying at home, with added theremin fun”, before hitting the Trump-era complications of “Three Jerks in a Jeep”. “Let’s just say, this is a true story – in Fresno, but probably true in your neck of the woods as well. No charges were filed. So, we gotta sing us a song of white privilege.” From there it's the trad-folk journey of “Homebound” and the hopeful messages of the new single “The First Song of Summer” -- “I imagined a world re-opening. All the bands are playing. Every day is Saturday! Get your friends and hear them say: It’s the First Song of Summer --- I think the ‘bright twang and shining’ done in a semi-R.E.M.-ish way, was a nod to the bands Big Stir and the community it represents” – and “Make Peace”. “I think this was the first song completely finished,” says Blake. “It didn’t seem to fit even this vague story arc, but it did fit as an epilogue: so much wrong in the world that we shake our heads every single day. But somehow , in the backwards/upside-dow truths of the universe, making peace and love happen seems the only way out of the hole.”
It's a view on the current state of affairs that only Blake Jones could provide, and while we await the return of the live scene, and with it the big brash sound of The Trike Shop, Big Stir Records is proud to bring THE HOMEBOUND TAPES to you.