Friday, September 4, 2020

The Ellie Badge Releases Live EP

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge LIVE at Growlers in 2019! - COURTESY THE ELLIE BADGE
  • Courtesy The Ellie Badge
  • LIVE at Growlers in 2019!

The Ellie Badge released a surprise album today, Friday, September 4th. The album, LIVE at Growlers in 2019!, marks the band’s first release of a live recording. When, on a phone call with frontman Jeremiah Matthews, I suggested all the band needs to do now is release a double-length concept album, Matthews laughs and says he has a rock opera in the works.

click to enlarge Jeremiah Matthews - COURTESY THE ELLIE BADGE
  • Courtesy The Ellie Badge
  • Jeremiah Matthews

“It was about a year ago, when we opened for Listener and ’68,” Matthews says of the recording, noting that the band pushed themselves into “heavier,” more bombastic sonic territory — Listener and ’68 are both on the more face-melting side of the music spectrum. So fans of Matthews’ solo shows, defined by his proficiency with guitar and keyboard loops and his clear, angelic vocal delivery, might be in for something of a surprise. To help achieve the desired sonic intensity, the setlist was taken primarily from The Ellie Badge’s newest full-length release, Horse Stories + Personal Fables. “It’s four songs from the newest record and two from the record before that,” Matthews says.

LIVE at Growlers was recorded by Josh “Baby J” McKemey. It was mixed by Jim Gray and mastered by Joel Mariani of Endless Bummer Records out of Boston, Massachusetts. Endless Bummer has put out two of Matthews’ earlier releases, but that’s not the only reason he picked Gray and Mariani to mix and master the record: “Any money they raise off of any of their music stuff, they donate to BLM.”

The album is available via the band’s Bandcamp page, and Matthews hopes proceeds from the sales will help fund his next recording project, a pair of dual EPs. “The first Friday of every month, they waive their fee,” Matthews says of Bandcamp. “Hopefully we can raise a little money to record when everything’s calmed down.”

  • Courtesy The Ellie Badge

LIVE at Growlers serves another purpose: It’s something of a placeholder for The Ellie Badge, who have been dormant during the coronavirus pandemic. “I haven’t really seen any of them,” the songwriter says of his bandmates. “I’ve been writing a ton, I’ve been demoing at home. I have my drums set up, and I’m recording live drums. I’m just writing as much as I can so [we’ll be ready] when we can safely be together again.”

The players on the live record are Matthews on guitar and vocals, Eli Wilson on guitar and backing vocals, Wyatt Braden on bass and backing vocals, and Patrick Curran on drums. Matthews says the album represents an end of an era, in a way. It marks the last recording with Wilson, who has since moved to Knoxville. “This is the only live stuff we’ve ever released.”

As for how the record sounds? Though this listener is on record as a die-hard fan of Matthews’ quieter solo work, LIVE at Growlers is a welcome balm in these days of no live concerts. It’s loud, raw, with frenetic guitar riffs and Matthews stretching his voice to the breaking point. “Hospital Song” is excellent, Matthews’ vocals clearly audible above clean guitars and a driving drum beat. And “Just Stay Home” is a particular standout, combining Matthews’ ear for catchy melody with his band’s ability to harness wild riffage to rip the roof off. It’s well worth a listen, particularly for erstwhile concert-goers growing tired of just staying home.

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