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Love Songs

by Winterpills

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about

Over a decade ago, singer-songwriter Philip Price scrawled the name “Winterpills” on the wall of The Bay State Hotel, a now-dead but fabled Northampton, Massachusetts watering hole and music venue. Initially, it was going to be the name for a dreamt-of electronica project, but, somewhere along the line, it blossomed into a critically acclaimed indie band with a deep catalog of elegant, dark chamber pop.

Now, the quintet gives us its seventh album, a provocative entry in its catalog, Love Songs (Signature Sounds), out March 18th. Recorded and co-produced with Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, Lou Barlow, Speedy Ortiz), the album showcases an invigorated and raw Winterpills. This new release marks ten years as a band. To commemorate this career milestone, Winterpills will also reissue its self-titled debut on vinyl. Together, these releases bookend a freewheeling psych-folk-rock continuum.

“Without even trying, over time the canvas has just gotten bigger,” says Winterpills’ principle songwriter Philip Price. "Time stretched us.”

The Northampton, Massachusetts quintet are consummate masters of the slow burn; they’ve nurtured a singular aesthetic with lush and sometimes gritty instrumentation, emotive and literate lyrics, sublime vocal harmonies, and cinematically structured songs that stealthily pull you in and then destroy you. Winterpills has prompted favorable comparisons to Elliott Smith, Low, The Go-Betweens, Fairport Convention, Pernice Brothers and Big Star, among others. The five-piece group is singer/songwriter/guitarist Philip Price, singer/keyboardist Flora Reed, guitarist Dennis Crommett, bassist Max Germer, and drummer Dave Hower.

Winterpills formed as friends, musically comforting each other during one particularly miserable winter after a year of breakups and deaths. Price began performing as a solo artist in the vein of Elliott Smith and Leonard Cohen after his power pop band, The Maggies, disbanded after nine years. Initially, Winterpills was an outlet to combine his quieter, heartfelt songwriting with a richer array of synthetic textures. Winterpills took something of a left turn by becoming a full band that conjured the vigor and sophistication of power-pop and folk-rock with subtle electronica flourishes. As time has worn on, Winterpills has peeled away that ambience in favor of a powerful and graceful live band aesthetic.

There’s a circularity to the group’s newly reissued self-titled debut album from 2005, and its latest, Love Songs. Both albums have the feeling of euphoric artistic self-discovery. “We hadn’t recorded together in awhile, and we felt refreshed when we went in the studio this time.” Philip admits. Whereas 2005’s Winterpills is a raw rock album with delicate moments, 2016’s Love Songs is a much bigger sounding rock record played with swaggering musicality.

Love Songs is tightly thematic. "At first the thought of calling it Love Songs was intended as a whimsical nod to the other million albums of the same title," Price says, "but then casting that light on the existing songs made them jump into stark relief: they were all love songs after all, though arriving at that place through strange portals and unused back roads." The tracks are definitely not your standard missives of affection: within the 11-song album, Winterpills explores love of the idea of love, love of unrealized love, love of the dead, love of family secrets, love of the concept of eternal return, love of ideas, and love of celebrity.

Standouts in this prismatic survey include the single “Celia Johnson,” “Freeze Your Light,” and “He Grew A Wall.” The track “Celia Johnson” bursts forth with a scruffy Jeff Magnum-like elegance conjured from the contrast of skyward Byrds-like harmonies laid over propulsive drums and garage rock guitars. The track was inspired by Philip's fascination with the late English actress, Celia Johnson, (best known for the 1945 British romantic drama Brief Encounter).

Lone celestial harmony vocals open “Freeze Your Light,” reminding longtime fans of the power of Philip’s vocal interplay with co-writer, keyboardist, harmony soulmate, and wife, Flora Reed. The song majestically unfolds from a fragile intimacy as it gathers burly power with lumbering drums and dirty guitars. The chorus has a gospel purposefulness that feels cathartic and spiritual; the embedded and quixotic desire to freeze all our loves in photographs, pixels and 'cardboard boxes with broken handles' saturates the song.

“He Grew A Wall” is about a suicide that shook the local music scene. “I watched that loss confound us all,” Philip reveals of the song’s subject, “I woke up one day with most of the words in my head laid out for me.” The track features some of Philip’s most poetically poignant lyrics against a mournful descending guitar line: “So the wind told a lie/You were deceived by the sky/The sun refused your call/The moon denied it all/You grew a wall”.

The album’s emotional resonance and fresh energy comes from the environment it was created in. Philip produced and engineered three albums in a row for Winterpills in their home project studio; but Love Songs was recorded in a professional studio buzzing with music gear curiosities, setting the stage for intrepid sonic exploration, including a slightly out-of-tune vintage Vose & Sons upright piano used liberally on many of the albums tracks: Love Songs bids farewell with the early Elton John-esque “It Will All Come Back To You.” The song’s arrangement is richly emotive—it sweeps upward from plaintive piano and voice to vigorous full-band accompaniment with stacked vocal harmonies, noise guitar, and trumpet. Co-producer Justin Pizzoferrato forged a telepathic connection with the group where he could intuit their aspirations, while providing fresh perspectives from the many different genres he’s worked in.

It’s been an unexpected journey for Philip, chasing the ghost within that moniker he scribbled on a bar wall twelve years ago. But what stands out to him as the most meaningful part of the journey is the deep ties within the band. “We feel lucky we’re still good friends after all this time. And I’m in awe of what everyone in the band brings to this weird table we built,” he says. His most profound connection, though, is with Flora Reed, his wife, and creative ally. “We totally have all our eggs in one basket, and it’s been great. I highly recommend it. We do save a little money on hotel rooms.”

credits

released March 18, 2016

Engineered and mixed by Justin Pizzoferrato at Sonelab, Easthampton, MA. November 2014 – November 2015. Produced by Winterpills and Justin Pizzoferrato.

Mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering, Chicago, IL. saffmastering.com

Philip Price: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, lap steel, backing vocals. Dave Hower: drums, backing vocals.
Max Germer: bass, backing vocals

Anders Griffen: trumpet & cornet on Celia Johnson, A New England Deluge and It Will All Come Back To You

Kris Delmhorst: Cello on Bringing Down The Body Count and Diary, Reconstructed

Band photos by Henning Ohlenbusch, Max Germer & Sharon Esdale; photo-collage by Philip.
Actors, makeup and general helpers: Lesa Bezo, Sharon Esdale, Matthew Kloman, Sarah Knox, Seth Lepore.

Intense Fox by José Iñesta Vaquera (500px.com/jose_inesta). Foggy Trees by Patrick Hendry.
Meteor Mezzotint: Wellcome Library, London Astronomy: a meteor shower in the night sky.
“A Telescopic View of Donati's Comet, Oct. 15, 1858” From A Popular Treatise on Comets by James C. Watson, PUB. 1861.

All Songs By Philip Price Copyright © 2016 Lalablahblah Music/ASCAP.

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Track Name: Incunabula
oh me.
hide behind my sleep
me oh my
hide behind my eyes
hey hey hey
hide behind the day

but I’ve been true.
I’ve been true.
been so true.

ooh ooh ohhh

day breaks. sky falls.
fires are everywhere.
no one ever calls.

cloud fleets.
heart beats.
nothing. oh never.
nothing ever dies.

it’s so lonely inside love.
it’s so lonely inside love.
it’s so lonely inside love.

so long, love
so long, love
but leave our ruins

ooh ooh ooh.
Track Name: Wanderer White
at the end of time
theres a friend of mine
took me at my word
on my private line
and the sun was round
as a dandelion

and you followed me out of grace
you followed me out of grace

push you off the wall
and you fall and fall
then you hold me down
then you push me round
i heard every sound
as your family drowned

and you followed me out of grace
you followed me out of grace

whooooooooooooooo-whooah

come on wanderer white!
wheres your fiery spite?
now's your time to shine
its the afterlife
you seduce all your friends
on their wedding nights

and you follow me out of grace
you follow me out of grace
you follow me out of grace

whooooooooooooooo-whooah!!!
Track Name: Celia Johnson
my baby bird’s broken
she hasn’t spoken for days
i carried her body
through the darkest part
of the maze
as she cried
oh she cried
i am thinking of her eyes
as the all branches waved goodbye

you don’t even know him
you won’t ever show him your face
you cover his eyes while you’re
filling his head with your days
i’m in twain
i am surgically slicing up the rain
i’m inspecting every link in the chain
i’m erasing every dream in your brain

da da da…

sometimes in the summer I
sleep with my doors open wide
was on such an evening I
learned Celia Johnson had died
and i cried
oh i cried
i am thinking of her eyes
i am thinking of her eyes
i am thinking of her eyes
as Trevor Howard says goodbye.
Track Name: Freeze Your Light
all their faces were
dull and faded
blues all washed out and
pixelated
there’s no proof they were
serenaded

but i will keep the camera on you
i will keep the camera on you
freeze your light.

dreamed he dragged from his starlight motel
a cardboard box with a broken handle
filled with lenses and roman candles

and i will keep the camera on you
i will keep the camera on you
freeze your light.

i love forever your guilty praises
hidden letters in smoky mazes
all the way down
all the way down

i will keep the camera on you
i will keep the camera on you
freeze your light.
Track Name: A New England Deluge
once round the moon then broken down
i remembered what it felt like
to be young and free, in my body’s memory
running, never out of breath
dying over and over and in my death
the seven seas
blood running down my knees

and i have this picture
of your older sister
as she’s running down the drive
after kicking in the hive
but i can’t sell you
this New England deluge
will you meet me down
on the floodplain?

billy eino was my tiny friend
he followed me around
until he gained my sympathy
at seven he was 3 foot 3
gym time, he rode on my back
cackling as the jocks kicked back
the soccer ball
he begged me, ‘please don’t fall”

but his aorta blew up one morning
my mother whispered in the car
of the murder of a star
but i can’t sell you
this New England deluge
but will you meet me down
on the floodplain?

And i drove for hours
and i brought you flowers
and i got down on my knees
begging baby please
but i could not sell you
this New England deluge
will you meet me down
on the floodplain?
will you meet me down
on the floodplain?
oh will you meet me down
on the floodplain?
Track Name: The Swimmers and The Drowned
my lamb, my sheep
you confessed it talking in your sleep
you know that nervous system
isn’t yours to keep
my love, my pet
you know i memorized your silhouette
the way your eyes follow me
like some bad debt

your fails, your doubts
your sit-ins and your fade-outs
you need a parking lot to keep you
hollowed out
and clean, my queen
you spilled your whiskey in your magazine
why did you wait so long
to get your sad vaccine?

held up
held down
between the swimmers and the drowned
the bread you steal
between the hunger and the meal
now you see the known
through your faded rods and cones
alone

your arms, your cries
I still dream about
your tired eyes
the way you always bitched about
your low supplies

held up
held down
between the swimmers and the drowned
the bread you steal
between the hunger and the meal
now you only see the known
through your faded rods and cones
alone
Track Name: He Grew A Wall
so the wind told a lie
you were deceived by the sky
the sun refused your call
the moon denied it all
grew a wall

i hardly knew you at all
i slept for six days on the steps outside your hall
couldn't reach the high note
lost your only glasses swimming across the moat
grew a wall

couldn't move
couldn't talk
the only thing i hear is the clock
and the footfalls of the firefighters
but i never reached the typewriter

grew a wall
grew a wall
grew a wall
Track Name: Chapel
i am
beaten
your silk worm
has eaten
my mulberry
heart

i’ll go
underground
i’ll go
underground
and the wind
will drown
me out

i was
blinded
the path sealed off
behind me
how long
will it last?

i am under
glass
i am under
glass
i am under
glass, glass

i left
bitter apples
for you
in the chapel
no sugar
in these trees

i have
burned them down
i have
burned them down
i have
burned them down
to the
ground
Track Name: Bringing Down the Body Count
oh maria
bringing down the body count
oh can you lift your hands up
into the rude sun?
i'm counting the compound eyes
staring at you and your face
behind the glass

oh maria
bringing down the body count
subtracting one death from every life
you bring better luck
to those you thought were dead
the corpses walking through the snow

seventeen, sixteen, fifteen

oh maria
bringing down the body count
oh can you hold your head up
under the dead moon?
how could you kiss me on the mouth
when my wife was sleeping
under you?

seventeen, sixteen, fifteen

oh maria
bringing down down the body count
oh maria
bringing down down the body count
oh maria
bringing down down the body count
oh maria
bringing down down the body count
Track Name: Diary, Reconstructed
the fire blew through the tiny town,
the walls we knew were melting down
video tapes, super-8 movie reels
photographs of love’s appeals
a jar of dried out hawthorne leaves
a note inside, said: ‘what the hell do you believe?’

and i have been your eyes
i have been your eyes
i have seen through your eyes
and will these dreams reprise?

the secrets we kept
we all wrote them down
while the others slept
in their stolen crowns
we all witnessed the winds
as they pulled the trees
back into the earth
and us upon our knees

god i need those words to remember you
when you were the one
i could not see through

and i have been your eyes
i have been your eyes
i have seen through your eyes
and will these dreams reprise?
will these dreams reprise?
will these dreams reprise?
Track Name: It Will All Come Back To You
with my hat in my hand
and my ozone sigh
i made everyone
kiss me goodbye

i was overdressed
at the farmers ball
i had my nose in the air
thought i was above it all

i sold you silverware
for a good price
a handshake and a wink
would buy you thirty knives

but i was scared of you
i was scared of you

i introduced you to my father-in-law
before i knew your name
you told the same joke
to everyone who came

we were all stuck on a bus
with no license plates
the driver shared your flask
and i walked home alone
in your ice skates

someday if you let it
it will all come back to you
someday if you let them
they will all come back to you
someday if you let it
it will all come back to you
someday if you let it
it will all come back to you
someday if you let it
it will all come back to you
someday if you let them
they will all come back to you