Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ham1

Ham1, an Athens, GA mainstay that released its self-titled (and free!) debut to much acclaim in 2005, has been picked up by eco-conscious Orange Twin Records for its second album, The Captain’s Table. Ham1 is the brainchild of Athens songwriter and schoolteacher Jim Willingham, and his newly solidified lineup features Eric Harris of the Olivia Tremor Control on drums as well as contributions from Liz Durrett (whom the band frequently backs up), Kris Barratt of the Capes, and Pete Erchick, also of Olivia Tremor Control. Ham1 takes equal inspiration from old movie soundtracks and modern dilapidation, drawing from jukebox rock and roll archetypes, spaghetti westerns, and flea market lost and found sounds to create original pop songs and instrumental scores. Ham1 will soon embark on the “Three On A Tree Tour” supporting Liz Durrett and Vic Chesnutt and acting as both acts’ backing band.

A ringing attribute of Jim Willingham’s songwriting is that it manages to be both exuberant and high-minded -- inviting and literate -- all at once. Combining the terse acoustic propulsion of the late-model Feelies with the breezy, half-stoned-on-the-beach pop-ambiance of Dean Wareham’s Luna, Willingham nevertheless brings a distinctive Athenian warmth to his Captain’s Table. It figures: there are horn-charts and string-sections, burst veins of Link Wray-ish guitarplay, pastoral keyboard-drones, tremulous bits of Hawaiian slack-key guitar and some country-fried saunter up under the rhythm section. Chiefly, though, there’s that friendly storytelling voice -- half-sung, half-spoken – escorting you through the broken waltzes, atmospheric ballads and jittery rockers, all.

For his first Orange Twin release, Willingham capitalizes on his longstanding musical relationship with a pair of veteran Elephant Six luminaries; former Olivia Tremor Control members, drummer/multi-instrumentalist Eric Harris and keyboardist Pete Erchick, make key textural and compositional contributions to the new disk. Rounding out the idiosyncratic lineup are Athens fixtures Jacob Morris and Chris Sugiuchi on cello and trombone, respectively; acclaimed local songstress Liz Durrett, whom the band often backs on stage, lends her rich vocal harmony to two tracks.

A solid couple years of playing around the south have shorn up the group’s ensemble sound, and The Captain’s Table is strong proof; the group’s intricate instrumental chemistry frames the record perfectly, coalescing Willingham’s sprawling vision into a unified artistic whole -- this is no loose collection of songwriter-plus-band musings. Producer Andy Baker’s shimmering, vibrant patina serves each song with minimal intrusion; there’s an airy, informal atmosphere to the album that makes for rewarding repeated listening: you can choose to skate along the brilliantly crystalline surface of each song or dive full-bore into Willingham’s weird and beautiful lyrical world. Highly Recommended!

Ham1 - White Rat
Ham1 - Hare Lipped Bust
Ham1 @ MySpace


Bonus:
Moving Units - Hexes For Exes (2007) !!!
The White Stripes - Icky Thump (2007)
Back Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/32pxks
Sum 41 - Underclass Hero (2007)
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/2uxbu5
The Protomen - The Protomen
Billy Shea - The Candlelight [EP]
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/2rbr92
The Plastic Constellations, Alexander Tucker, Rogue Wave, Nick Castro & The Young Elders, etc.
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/y4csep
Paolo Nutini - These Streets
The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Kelly Clarkson - My December
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/35krwn
Interpol - Our Love To Admire (2007)
[CODE]http://tinyurl.com/2lrf94

4 Comments:

Blogger molotov said...

Welcome back. You have been missed.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog...do you have links to Mark Ronson--Version or Billie Holiday-Remixed and Reimagined? Hope you had a great vacation.

3:57 AM  
Blogger Clor said...

Thanks dude. I like this band :D

8:29 AM  
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