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 selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Oslo Novelist” by Grand Archives from their 2009 album Keep In Mind Frankenstein available from Sub Pop.
Avoiding the sophomore slump can be an intimidating feat for any artist, particularly when you’re part of a collective that was picked up by indie giant Sub Pop on the basis of a few demos (I’m sure the fact that the band was made up by former members of Band of Horses and Clarissa’s Weird sure didn’t hurt). Seattle’s Grand Archives accomplished just that with their second full-length album, 2009’s Keep In Mind Frankenstein, but it wasn’t easy. The band spent months writing and honing songs on the road only to throw out all but one when they got to the studio. Originally slated to be a more rockin’ follow up to 2008’s self-titled breakout debut, they weren’t happy with how the songs were turning out so they dumped them and set about writing all new songs. Inspired in part by the “haunting” beauty (reportedly there is a very haunted house in the area) of Index, WA the songs took on more of a solemn feel, especially on today’s song “Oslo Novelist,” which features the desolate sounding pedal steel of Jason Kardon (Sara Cahoone).
This song is about an author who endures writer’s block for much of his lifetime only to finish his book on his deathbed. Ironically, Mat Brooke, the principal songwriter for Grand Archives, had the music for this song, but couldn’t seem to pin down the lyrics and ended up making them up as they went along. The result is an achingly beautiful tune that is one of the best tracks on the album. Now if only my occasional writer’s block was so productive.
Grand Archives are currently on tour in Scandanavia and even have a stop in Oslo, Norway, on February 15th. Keep an eye on their MySpace page for their next hometown date.
In the meantime, here’ Grand Archives performing this track live on KEXP: