CD Hewn from the Wilderness (CD 16035611),
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Hewn from the Wilderness

  • 1. Messed Up and Ramblin'
    2. Dignity of Saint Jude, The
    3. Woman Named Trudy, A
    4. Tell-Tale Heart
    5. Get In
    6. Sitting Alone at the Movies
    7. Ride with Me
    8. Somebody's Phone Is Ringing
    9. Nothin' But the Buryin'
    10. Blind in One Eye
    11. Pine-Shaped Box
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): KLP 241CD

  • Credits
    EngineerFred Thomas; Karl Blau; Calvin Johnson

    Personnel: Fred Thomas (vocals, bass guitar, drums); Calvin Johnson (vocals, percussion); Jessica Dennison (vocals); Brian Weber (acoustic guitar, piano); Brett Lyman (acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums); Dalvin Johnson (acoustic guitar); Andrew Dorsett (piano, electric keyboard); K.E. Sixx (bass guitar, drums); Karl Blau (bass guitar, percussion); Gabriel Will (bass guitar); Spencer Kelley (drums, percussion); Jeremy Jay (drums); Austin Cooper, Steve Potter (percussion).
    Audio Mixers: Gabriel Will; Calvin Johnson.
    After buzzing around the indie underground for upwards of three decades, Calvin Johnson is still having fun, sounding fresh and honoring his rich musical past with the Hive Dwellers. On Hewn from the Wilderness, the band's full-length debut, they rework the best received songs they played live from 2009 through 2011 and draw from the primitive minimalism of Beat Happening, the groovy dance vibes of Dub Narcotic Sound System and Johnson's offbeat, observational storytelling. Mostly based around the live lineup -- Johnson's acoustic guitar and melodica in addition to singing, plus bassist/electric guitarist Gabriel Will (Strangers) and drummer Evan Hashi (Desolation Wilderness) -- the Hive Dwellers are about as stripped down as the K Records kingpin has sounded since the beginning of his career, but Will's rhythmic style and Hashi's stomping beats combined with Johnson's entrancing vocals add up to something surprisingly rollicking. Naturally, in the cooperative spirit of the band's Olympia, Washington home base (which is mirrored in the record's beehive and "Occupy Olympia"-oriented cover art), contributions from guest musicians like Karl Blau, K.E. Sixx (the Vibrarians), Brett Lyman and Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good to Me, City Center), flesh out the sound with instrumentation like piano, organ, and electric bass, giving Hewn from the Wilderness moments of raw '60s garage/surf ("Ride With Me"), slinky jazz ("Messed Up and Ramblin'"), and freaky-deaky funk ("Tell-Tale Heart", "Nothin' But the Buryin'"). But the record's best moments arrive when Johnson's vocals and lyrics take center stage; don't miss the scenester call-out and obvious centerpiece song, "Get In", as the band lays down a simple groove and Johnson rattles off oddball, outcast insults ("Cocktease, retard, nerd, insane / Skinhead, bull dyke, hopelessly tame / Social leper, sex on the brain"), inviting the motley crew to own their individualism and join their fellow freaks ("We've got our own gang, you can join it too / Just color outside the lines"), circling back to the call of the title between the namechecking. A similar philosophical feel arrives on "The Dignity of Saint Jude" and "Pine-Shaped Box", where he asks the apostle not to give up on him and makes plans for his final resting place, respectively, tempered by songs about enjoying one's own company ("Sitting Alone at the Movies" ) and bicycling ("Ride with Me"). With such a respected legacy, it would be easy for Johnson to phone it in at this point in his career, but with Hewn from the Wilderness he and his fellow Hive Dwellers show there are still lots of stories to be told and fun to be had. So what are you waiting for? Get in. ~ Chrysta Cherrie

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