“Dark Side Of The Moon” by Chris Staples, from his debut album American Soft (Barsuk Records). Just watching this video a few times, I’ve again realized how easy it is for me to miss out discovering great new artists, lost in the overflowing chaos that is my inbox.
When not touring as a backing musician for artists like J.Tillman and Telekinesis, Staples is a journeyman, working as a carpenter wherever he finds himself living. In the spring of 2014, having recently decamped to the Northwest, Staples happened to do some work on the home of Josh Rosenfeld, co-founder and head of Seattle’s renowned Barsuk Records.
One night, Rosenfeld sat down to dinner with Matthew Caws and Michael Benjamin Lerner, members of Nada Surf and Telekinesis respectively. Rosenfeld recalls, “I knew Chris from his days in Telekinesis and told Michael that he was installing a screen door at my house. He and Matthew both told me that I had to hear Chris’s new record, which, thankfully, I did.”
The two songwriters raved about the album, and insisted that Barsuk had to release it. Rosenfeld – and the entire staff of the label – agreed heartily, and American Soft became Staples’ debut Barsuk release. Continues Rosenfeld, “The hooks are great – subtle and elegant – and his voice has a soft raspy ease to it that I could listen to all day.”
Sidenote: I’ve had people ask me a lot about how bands can get signed to labels. In this case, I guess it can help if you’ve got some trade skills, but what I tend to tell artists to build relationships with other bands. People in the position to help bands (labels, publishers) trust the opinions of their own artists when doing A&R.