Release Date: Jun 11, 2013
Record label: Undertow
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Slowcore
Shortly after the 2009 death of incredibly influential songwriter Vic Chestnutt, four friends and fans of the musician -- David Bazan, known for his witty solo material as well as his work in Pedro the Lion; Will Johnson from Centro-Matic; and brothers Bubba and Matt Kadane, the minds behind seminal slowcore units Bedhead and the New Year -- met up in a Denton, Texas studio and began work on what would become the debut album from Overseas. Though not officially uniting in memoriam of their talented friend, the four musicians already had inclinations toward somber, grave-faced music at times. The ten songs on this self-titled debut don't all sound like the slowcore murmurings of their respective pasts, but there's a certain collective darkness at the core of even the most upbeat Overseas tracks.
Overseas is a collaboration between David Bazan, Will Johnson and Matt and Bubba Kadane. Any project standing under the label of “supergroup” most assuredly wishes against its use, so I’ll keep it down to one (that one). And while the inclusion of one of its four members is probably what brought you here, let’s try to ignore that fact (even as difficult as it is).
In the late ’90s and early ’00s, word that David Bazan, Will Johnson, and brothers Bubba and Matt Kadane were releasing an album together would’ve pleased most indie rock fans, and incited at least a bare minimum of attention from the rest. Things were simpler then: “Indie” itself felt like more of a coherent idea, partly as a function of there being less press coverage of underground music and partly because the sounds percolating from below were more homogenous. Guitar-first indie held court back then, and the four songwriters aforementioned singer-songwriters each made an important mark writing their own strain of it, Bazan in Pedro the Lion, Will Johnson in Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel, and the Kandanes in Bedhead and The New Year.
I’m a recent convert to David Bazan. Last year I came across some video of him playing live, in what appeared to be somebody’s front room, and was really taken by his directness, his economical style, and his warmth. I was delighted to discover, shortly afterwards, that he was making a record with the Kadane brothers (Bedhead, The New Year), but wasn’t entirely sure that the combination would actually work.
Overseas collects the restless, subtly shifting energies of four individuals, two of them the Kadane brothers from Bedhead and the New Year, one Seattle’s rough-housing spiritualist David Bazan, the other Will Johnson, the ghostly Texan murmurer of Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel. The four are connected by criss-crossing ties of touring and playing together over the years, but the main node of intersection seems to run through the Undertow Orchestra, a collaboration between Bazan, Johnson, Vic Chesnutt and Mark Eitzel of American Music Club. It was shortly after Chesnutt’s death in 2009 that Overseas first convened.
Overseas Before divorce, there's just decay: cold stares, silent dinners, Netflix evenings. Overseas – the debut collaboration between Austin's Will Johnson (Centro-matic/South San Gabriel), David Bazan (Pedro the Lion/Headphones), and the Kadane brothers (Bedhead/the New Year) – isn't an explicit concept album about the stages of separation, but it doesn't stray far from the subject, either. "I'm thinking back to a sensual act I enjoyed with a girl in my teens, while me and the Mrs.