Around the Bend & Then Some
Seattle-based roots rockers 17th Chapter come with one of those arresting back stories that always accompany the most arresting artists. Fronted by former vagabond-turned-happily married dad Matt Garrity, the band would never have come to be if it wasn't for a '70s spiritual guru run amok, an adolescent coming-of-age spent in a remote ashram, Corey Feldman and Patrick Swayze's older brother (!), and the magnetism that guides like minds towards common goals. The band's forthcoming debut Around the Bend and Then Some is the kind of record that only gets made after decades of living real life, American life. It's simultaneously autobiographical and universal; Garrity's songwriting is fraught with the juicy tension of early REM and Nada Surf and his quintet nimbly swings through pop-minded barnburners and downtrodden slow-burners. In the midst of Seattle's Americana revival, 17th Chapter distills the style's road-worn, red-eyed emotion into a sound honest, unforced, and immediate. Soon after Garrity was born in Madison, WI his parents began chasing a spiritual satisfaction that always seemed just out of reach. They eventually found themselves in San Francisco, following the wildly cultish teachings of Franklin Jones. At his instruction, they sent 12-year-old Garrity to boarding school at a former summer camp in upstate New York, an ascetic, ashram-style school where pop culture and materialism were banned. Garrity found solidarity with his fellow students who shared a dilapidated cabin (named after the 17th chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita) all year round. The other thing they shared: a battery-powered boombox that picked up the sounds of classic rock, country, and pop radio from someplace seemingly a million miles away. It was their lifeline to the outside world. By the time he was 19, Garrity was bouncing around the Western states in a used Ford Pinto occasionally going to College and working odd jobs. He ended up in Seattle working Special Effects on Edge of Honor, a low budget movie starring Feldman and Don Swayze. After Feldman borrowed and blew up his car Garrity moved into a VW bus and decided to stick around. Construction, bartending, film editing, college, and more bartending kept him in Seattle while he wrote many of the songs and ideas that appear on Around the Bend and Then Some. More importantly, he developed close relationships with several ace Seattle musicians, including drummer Mike Stone (Peter Buck, Bill Frissell), multi-instrumentalist Kimo Muraki (Bre Loughlin, Shawn Smith), bassist Zak Melang, and hotshot jazz keysman Ryan Burns. Along with producers Tyler Coffey and Jeremy Lightfoot, these guys helped shape the sound of Around the Bend. The result is an album of songs that feel perfectly comfortable in their own skins. Live, Stone and Melang are replaced by Greg Garcia and Bob Lovelace; in concert, the band bristles with raucous, untethered energy.