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 our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Book of James” by Augustines from their forthcoming release Rise Ye Sunken Ships.
Rise Ye Sunken Ships was originally supposed to be the follow-up album to New York folk-rock band Pela’s debut LP, Anytown Graffiti. Tragedy struck, however, when singer and songwriter Bill McCarthy’s brother committed suicide, and the band struggled to cohere after the ordeal, eventually disbanding. Pela bassist Eric Sanderson later teamed back up with McCarthy to form a two-man outfit they call Augustines.
McCarthy wrote “Book of James” about his brother’s battles with drug addiction and subsequent suicide, and a recording caught the ear of producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene), who agreed to record the duo in Canada. While “Book of James” likely started out as a stark, stripped-down acoustic song, Newfeld included forceful, building percussion, some slide guitar, and communal clapping to add some inspiring instrumental gravity to go along with McCarthy’s impassioned lyrics and vocals. Though it is a song that came from tragedy, “Book of James” is an uplifting tale of forgiveness and perseverance, and will serve as the capstone to Rise Ye Sunken Ships, the release of which we are all anticipating at KEXP.
To announce the new project, Eric and Billy performed a special session live on KEXP from the Cutting Room Studios last week, which you can listen to right now. For more info regarding Augustines, including a nearly 5000-word synopsis of the band’s history and their experience working with Dave Newfeld, visit their website. Here’s their official electronic press kit for the new album, directed by Seattle’s Matteo Bava: