Song of the Day: Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts – The Horse & the Sistine Chapel

photo by Dave Lichterman

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 Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “The Horse & the Sistine Chapel” by Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts from their latest album available on Burning Building Records.

Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts – The Horse & the Sistine Chapel (MP3)

Before you start tearing into all those presents under the tree and over-indulging in your Aunt Marge’s egg nog, Kevin Cole has an audio treat for your music listening devices in the form of today’s Song of the Day podcast from Seattle band Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts. Risk is the sixth full-length from DGH and co. and represents a collection of emotionally honest fuzzy folk rock that drifts towards shoe-gazery without losing its rock-n-roll roots. Today’s featured song, “The Horse and the Sistine Chapel,” is one of the more straight-forward rockers on this album, but it’s a opening statement to an album chock full of vivid lyrical imagery set over expansive melodies that beg to be set on repeat. Album opener “We Are Professionals” is one such tune and it is definitely in good company.

Speaking of good company, I got the chance to chat with Harmann and get his thoughts on the holidays and his new album.

What was your all-time favorite Christmas present that you’ve either given or received?
When I was living in Portland, my parents and sister came to my house for Christmas. My sister’s gift to me was a quilt that she’d been making over the past year. It’s made from old sheets from when we were kids, my Dad’s old PJ’s, old tee shirts, etc. It’s the best thing I ever received. I use it all the time, and it’s kind of falling apart. Know anyone that repairs quilts?

Favorite holiday song?
I’m not a huge fan of holiday songs, but I LOVE “Christmas Windows” by Youth Group. It reminds me of being a kid. We covered it a few years back at Lesli Wood’s final Toys for Tots benefit at the Mars Bar. I really miss doing those.

How did the concept (and title) of the Risk come about?
It was just a word that has been floating around in my brain for the past few years. As we came closer & closer to recording, & then releasing the record, it all started to make sense. I took a lot more chances both lyrically & musically on this one. The band dynamic had changed. We recorded with a new producer & at a new studio. It kinda went on and on, and by the time we actually had to name the record, it seemed like the only choice.

What can you tell me about “The Horse and the Sistine Chapel?”
It’s about someone that has a family secret that they’ll take to the grave. A few people know about it, but it will always be denied. For the most part this person is held in high esteem, and worshiped, but what they know (or what they’ve done) would destroy that.

What’s next for you and the Trouble Starts?
We’re touring a ton. We’re doing a west coast jaunt in April, then I’m going to the UK & Scotland to do a bunch of acoustic shows with I Build Collapsible Mountains, in June. Then in the fall we’re doing a West Coast and East Coast tour. We’re also trying to write and demo new songs for the next record. We’re working in reverse a bit, right now, with Shea writing beats & sending them to us to write songs around. It’s working out pretty well so far… It’s also an easy way to write, on the road.

It sounds like a busy year for Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts. You can catch them at the Columbia City Theater on January 14 with Drew Victor and Elk & Boar. Check out their Myspace page and website website for more info. For now, here’s a video for their song “Dee”:

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