Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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 deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Pacer” by Systems Officer from their 2009 album Underslept on Temporary Residence Limited.
Systems Officer is the solo project of bassist and multi-instrumentalist Armistead Burwell (aka Zach) Smith IV. KEXP listeners may be more familiar with his bass work for a couple other well known projects like Pinback or Three Mile Pilot. Although Underslept is Smith’s debut album, it is not the first Systems Officer release. In fact, a self-titled EP surfaced back in 2004, but now, five years later, we have the proper full length album. The wait paid off, thanks to the songs’ experimental and deeply textured sounds, yet ultimately pop-driven structures. Underslept is sure to please fans of his other projects -- collectively with pals Rob Crow and Pall Jenkins, the trio can maintain as many as ten simultaneous projects -- but they shouldn’t come here looking for the next Pinback album because this isn’t it. What it is, however, is a great new place for Smith to showcase some of his own remarkable lyrical abilities (now pushed to the front) while still invoking the same inventive bass and instrumental work that helped make him renown.
Today’s Song of the Day, “Pacer”, is all about “disbelief” and seems to follow along much of the same hopeless theme that appears evident throughout the album. That’s not to say it’s all depressing, but let’s not go calling it a summer album either. In fact, in the winter month of February, this song may sound just about right.
Currently, there are no videos for Systems Officer, but Zach Burwell did perform last summer during the Three Mile Pilot reunion tour. Here’s “Way of the Ocean,” from a live recording shot at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill: