Life is the new album by The Salt Collective that is the brainchild of Stephane Schuck who has been working with the core group of Fred Quentin, Benoir Lautridou since the 1980's, they are based in Paris. They are joined on this album by Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield, Richard Lloyd (Television), Anton Barbeau, Susan Cowsill, Mitch Easter, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) and Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene Holder, Will Rigby (the dB's), Laura Thomas, Leah Webster. Recorded at Fidelitorium (Kernersville, NC), Ferber Studios (Paris), Modern Recording (Chapel Hill, NC), Artisan Studios. Produced by Chris Stamey. The album was recorded using the theories of creative collaboration the surrealists termed Exquisite Corpse for how the work is passed on for others to add too with almost no instruction these are the results of this experiment.
The album opens with Asylum that features Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws, it has sweeping strings that allow Juliana and Matthew to sing sweetly over the onrushing gentle indie rock, with very detailed production, all sorts of sounds jumping out of the mix.
Where the Wild Things Are features Juliana Hatfield and Richard Lloyd whose guitar jumps out, as it does all sorts of imperious things over and around the other guitars already there, as Juliana bewitches, but this is all about what Richard brings to the party.
Not Going Back features Chris Stamey and Pat Sansone this has lush harmony vocals with crystalline guitars, on a proper pop rock song that asserts very clearly, it's time to move on, as the guitars go off in squiggly directions.
The Pebble In My Hand features Peter Holsapple on a psychedelically dappled song to walk along a beach to, this has sparkling guitars over rather more downbeat lyrics, that are by turns smart and questioning for where things are going, will you find sanctuary or not.
Another Bus Coming features Mathew Caws and Mitch Easter as things slow down feeling rather reflective on the slight side, I'm still not sure what Charlie Brown has to do with bus timetables. Waiting for the warped guitar solo from Mitch I guess.
Dream Inside features Matthew Sweet on a song that harks back tangentially to the earlier parts of his career when Richard Lloyd was in his band, on what in places sounds like an anti-war song, it's woozy in the right ways as you go on an internal journey.
A Piece Of Candy features Anton Barbeau on a song that would have fit on his recent Manbird album nicely, this is densely layered with interesting slightly off in their own world lyrics, but whatever you do call him later and listen to more of his magical music, love the semi elastic guitars with stormy percussion backwards phased elements, expansive more a whole box of candy rather than just A Piece Of Candy.
Nursery Rhyme Is with Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple or The DB's has a cool brass attack, harmony vocals layers and layers of musical intrigue, this is also super catchy and radio friendly.
Throwing Stones keeps Chris Stamey and has Faith Jones replace Peter Holsapple for some AOR in places proggy pop, that goes off in lots of directions including some Doors style organ.
Spacewalk 2068 brings in Susan Cowsill to take us deep into the future, or not that far really for a psych opera hoping that life in our part of space is better in 2068 than it is now, Susan's vocals are full of emotion.
I Knew You Well is back with Chris Stamey and as the album goes on it seems to get proggier with super sweet vocals, deep strings, sawing guitars, as we hear all sorts of musical explanations for why you might have known them so well, but don't anymore.
The album ends with Making It Up As We Go Along that is in the same vein as the other Chris Stamey songs on here, densely layered, precisely produced musical adventures, as you hit the wide open roads again on a long highway, driving during drive time this should be blaring out the windows as you live your life how you want to.
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