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. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Far From The Roses” by Minor Alps from the 2013 album Get There on Barsuk Records.
Although they’re always easy headline-bait, musical collaborations between two famous artists have a spotty track record. Some of the last few years’ all-star team ups have from unspeakably terrible to unexpectedly brilliant, and Minor Alps, the collaborative project from Boston veteran Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf leader Matthew Caws, fortunately falls into the latter category. Longtime friends and frequent collaborators before Minor Alps’ formation, Hatfield and Caws both spent most of the mid-1990s as college radio staples, scoring one crossover hit each (“My Sister” and “Popular”, respectively), before establishing themselves as two of the Northeast’s most enduring cult artists. Get There, the duo’s full-length collaborative debut, splits the difference between Hatfield’s melancholy jangle and Caws’ melodic romanticism. The duo share vocals nearly evenly, and rally around their natural chemistry, producing an album that feels naturally intimate and admirably vulnerable. “Far From The Roses”, a midtempo song that serves as one of the album’s louder cuts, wisely plays to the duo’s strengths. Mirroring vocal lines and lyrics about bittersweet ambivalence (“They say where your heart is is where your home is/Distracted enough to lose all your focus”) ride a steady pace of drums and keyboards, while twin jangling guitars provide a contrast to the pair’s nearly-sighed vocals. Hatfield and Caws feel in sync with each other, and despite its diminutive name and bleak album cover, “Far From The Roses”, along wit the other ten tracks on Get There, ranks as some of either songwriter’s finest work in some time.
Minor Alps just finished their inaugural tour, which included a Seattle stop earlier this month, but keep an eye on their website and Facebook in case they announce any more dates. Right now, you can read about their debut live performance at the Barsuk Records 15th Anniversary Concerts here, and watch the video for the Get There standout “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands” below.