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 DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “From A Soon To Be Ghost Town” by Fruit Bats from the forthcoming album Absolute Loser, due May 13th on on Easy Sound Recording Co.
With songwriter Eric D. Johnson at the helm of a revolving cast of musicians, Fruit Bats have spent the majority of the last two decade’s as Johnson’s outlet for his thoughtful, affecting folk-influenced tunes. Across his first five albums, Johnson carved out a role not only as a Pacific Northwestern stalwart (undoubtedly in part due to his membership on the Sub Pop roster during the label’s 2000s revival) but as a reliable songwriter as any during the decade, releasing a series of consistently rewarding LPs while holding down occasional work as a sideman for The Shins and Califone. In 2013, Johnson retired the moniker and continued his musical endeavors as a film composer and under the moniker EDJ. However, in 2015 Johnson returned to the project after the end of a period of personal struggle, resulting in the project’s sixth LP, Absolute Loser. Johnson opens his first track since returning to the project with a line about leaving – “It’s hard to be the last one in a soon to be ghost town” – but he sounds like he’s slipped comfortably back into the Fruit Bats paradigm. With a dash of piano and his regretful-yet-bold vocal performance, Johnson returns to the music road that he traveled on for so long with a tune and performance that’s as beautifully constructed as anything else in his catalog. “From A Soon To Be Ghost Town” doesn’t break the Fruit Bats mold as much as it underscores how solid it was in the first place, and that if he can continue pumping out songs of this caliber, Johnson’s work with the project is far from done.
Fruit Bats’ next stop in the Pacific Northwest is at Pickathon 2016 in August. In the meantime, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook page, and watch the band play “Birthday Drunk”, another song from the forthcoming album, live for KEXP at Pickathon last summer: