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. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Barcelona” by The Builders & The Butchers from the album Salvation is a Deep Dark Well available through Gigantic Music.
Next time you pass a busker on the street, don’t be afraid to stop and give them a moment of your time. You never know when those folks pouring their heart and soul into your preoccupied eardrums just might be the next big thing. Portland’s The Builders and the Butchers got their start playing acoustically on street corners and outside of clubs before moving their gigs indoors into proper venues. Early shows were not only participatory, with many members of the audience joining in, but were also a forum for developing songs and arrangements for much of their music before it got recorded in an album format.
Originally hailing from Alaska, the B&Bers sought refuge in the Rose City to escape the oppressive arctic winters and didn’t anticipate they would change more than just their scenery. As singer/songwriter/guitarist Ryan Sollee, who has strong roots in punk and rock music, began adjusting to Portland’s more temperate climate, he also began delving into other musical styles including roots and Americana music that still has a strong undercurrent in much of the music coming out of the Northwest today. Something struck a chord (so to speak) in Sollee, who sought to find a way to reconcile his two worlds. Thus, The Builders and the Butchers were born during a jam session amongst friends who traversed more than just state lines. Not quite the Hold Steady, and not quite The Decemberists, Sollee, et al, craft rock-infused bluegrass music peppered with characters who have strong narratives and tales to tell. Today’s song, “Barcelona” has a Spanish feel (as one might imagine), complete with horns and Latin rhythms. It tells of the mythical dangers of the famous Spanish city at night. “Barcelona” hails from the band’s second full length album Salvation is a Deep Dark Well, which was recorded by The Decemberists’ Chris Funk (who has also worked with Langhorne Slim).
The Builders and The Butchers just kicked off a U.S. tour with a record release party in Seattle and Portland before heading out on the road, starting in California, next week. For a complete list of dates, check out their website or MysPace page. For now, here’s a video of them shot at The Moore when they opened for The Decemberists early last year: