Song of the Day: Bishop Allen – Like Castanets

Bishop Allen’s found inspiration
photo by Aubrey Edwards

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is Like Castanets by Bishop Allen from their 2007 album The Broken String on Dead Oceans.

Bishop Allen – Like Castanets (MP3)

Formed by long-time friends Justin Rice and Christian Rudder, Bishop Allen takes its name from the street in Cambridge, MA, where the two lived after attending college. Their debut, Charm School, was truly a DIY effort, recorded completely themselves, one track at a time over a couple of years, while the two played all instruments and eventually released the album on their own imprint, Champagne School. As the two searched for inspiration to spark their follow-up, Rudder learned of a discarded piano, quite literally left on the sidewalk, and loaded it into his van, despite not having played the instrument since he was a child. The piano became the subject of “Corazon,” which appeared on an EP entitled January, the first of an ambitious undertaking. Each month in 2006, Bishop Allen released an EP of four songs (except in August when they released a full set of music recorded live), all new. The project was not without its pitfalls — early packaging caused 1 in 5 CDs to be crushed in transit, the entire pressing of the April EP had to be redone, and the last two EPs were delayed. Still, what other band can claim to have released 44 new songs in a year? The songs were not throw-aways, and some eventually ended up on their sophomore release. Of the dozen songs on The Broken String, nine come from the EP project, though on the album they are reworked. In discussing the band’s evolution with AZCentral, Rudder says, “I think the lyrics on this record are deeper. Not in a ‘deeper philosophical’ way, there’s just more to them.”

You can pick up both full lengths and all of the EPs at the band’s website or their MySpace page. And if you missed their performance in Seattle at the beginning of the month, you can catch them when they’re back at Neumo’s on October 17 with John Vanderslice.

You can also see pictures of their in-studio performance at KEXP here. And check back at our Live Performances page for a stream of that session.

For now, check out this performance of “Like Castanets” during a free live show at NYC’s River to River Festival:

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