BOOK CLUB, NEW ALBUM ONE-WAY MOON OUT FEB. 17 VIA THE COTTAGE RECORDING CO. & BEAR KIDS RECORDINGS
RIYL: Phosphorescent, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Marissa Nadler, The Melodic, early Dylan, Johnny & June, Lou Reed & Nico
Book Club [L-R]: Robbie Horlick, Rachel Buckley, Todd Kerstetter, Gus Fernandez, Matt Jarrard.
Photo by Dan Hollister.
“The band’s downhome Americana and country-infused pop shines through.” – Paste
“Soft strings and delicate harmonies … there’s a narrative weightiness and a pastoral simplicity to their sound.” – CMJ
“Pairs heartwrenching lyrics with rich, gorgeous melodies making it haunting and wintery. We’ll have this one on repeat.” – NYLON
“Sparse singer/songwriter fare that expands into lush folk-pop gems. Fans of She & Him, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, The Dutchess & The Duke, Patsy Cline, The Carter Family and Iron & Wine will find a few things to love within these sonic walls.” – My Old Kentucky Blog
Jan. 14, 2015 — NYLON premiered “Fallen Leaves,” the new song from Atlanta indie-folk collective Book Club, this week, calling it “haunting and wintery.” NYLON also praised the band’s penchant for pairing “heart-wrenching lyrics with rich, gorgeous melodies,” and vowed to have their new track on repeat.
Book Club’s new album One-Way Moon is out Feb. 17 on the Cottage Recording Co. & Bear Kids Recordings. There’s a wistful, unpretentious elegance to the group’s sound. At once urbane and downhome, this is modern pastoral pop music that can trace a straight line back to the simple, unaffected roots of American storysong. It’s where Johnny and June meets Lou Reed & Nico, trading twilight songs born of vacant, mostly forgotten kudzu-covered city lots, the spare, arresting two-part harmonies echoing all the way from the Georgia Piedmont to Tin Pan Alley and back again.
On One-Way Moon, frontman/songwriter Robbie Horlick practices introspection without navel-gazing, his wounded warble trickling like creekwater past the strum of the nylon six-string and the pluck of the banjo, cascading over daydreamy piano and the breathy moan of bow on strings. Further downstream, his vocal melodies empty into a crystal pool where they swirl gently, endlessly, around the wholesome, charmingly demure voice of harmony singer Rachel Buckley. The whole affair is a dazzling exercise in restraint—a stripped-bare, acoustic album where what you don’t hear is just as important as what you do.
Stream “You Say It So Glacial”
Since forming in Atlanta in 2011, Book Club has been covered by outlets such as Paste, CMJ, My Old Kentucky Blog, Magnet and more, and they’ve shared bills with a simpatico list of artists including Roadkill Ghost Choir, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Cate Le Bon, The Melodic, Richard Buckner, Maria Taylor and The Deep Dark Woods. Consistently keeping such fine musical company, the band eventually caught the attention of Grammy-nominated producer Matt Goldman. At first, he seemed like an odd choice to helm One-Way Moon, but as soon as the sessions began, Goldman and Book Club fell right in step. “Matt usually records really technical prog-metal,” Horlick explains, “but he said the idea of recording a band with acoustic instruments—no click track, no crazy 7/8 time signatures—sounded like a nice change of pace.’”
The first day at Atlanta’s Glow in the Dark Studios, Goldman had all six musicians set up in one room facing each other. They tracked everything live. “He knew how to expertly manage that space,” says cellist and Book Club co-founder Matt Jarrard (Royal Thunder, Oryx & Crake). “Each of us was positioned so that we had a direct line of sight to every other band member—we could see and hear exactly what was happening at all times. You play differently in that setting. I’d always been about layering track after track, but this time, myself and Will Raines (Mastodon, West End Motel) were a live, two-piece string ensemble. It was beautiful, Bill Callahan-style—sinister and simple.”
Goldman’s approach on One-Way Moon was familiar for the band, who usually rehearse in the round in Horlick’s living room. Of course, with the close quarters and live tracking, it was impossible to avoid mic bleed—so the band had no choice but to keep all the would-be scratch vocals, stray sounds and rough-edged parts. In the end, these “mistakes” became an essential part of the record. “I’m a perfectionist, but I’m also a realist,” Horlick says. “I love the studio, and if someone tells me to, I’ll do 50 takes. But I like when there’s a trust between the artist and producer where you both say, ‘Well, we’ve got a great take in one of those three, let’s move on.’ We were about the freshness of it, and it felt good. We were a band, and we played the songs—no smoke, no mirrors.”
Watch Book Club – “Love Like Parachutes” video on Vimeo
While Book Club’s sound might be classified as a subgenre of indie folk, they bristle at the comparison, or at least at what it’s come to convey. “I mean, occasionally, we have a banjo, but we’re not wearing vests and bolo ties,” Horlick says. “That kind of Portlandia-style indie-folk, the caravanning barista—it’s not really our thing. But we do let country in—we’re not afraid of it.”
In synch with that notion, Horlick describes his writing on One-Way Moon as “almost in the old-school country mode”—each song has a particular point to make, the verses reinforce the choruses, and the tales spun actually arrive at a conclusion. The new album also marks the first time in Book Club’s catalog—including the band’s full-length debut Ghost (2011) and its EP Shapes on the Water (2012)—that Horlick wrote specifically for the band’s female vocalist, who takes the lead on sultry Southern-gothic tune “However Can It Be?”
“I wanted Rachel to become the old chanteuse—the single spotlight in the smoky lounge,” Horlick says. “She has such a wonderful voice, so I tried to get outside of my head—‘What would a girl narrator say in this situation?’—and the song just came out. I was making my best attempt at Cole Porter-style philosophical badassery.”
As for the band’s curious, literature-inspired name? “My Mom was in a book club—everybody and their Mom was in a book club, so it was colloquial,” Horlick says. “Plus, I’ve always liked bands with ‘book’ in the name. It lowers expectations. No one’s gonna see ‘Book Club’ and think, ‘They’re gonna rock.’ No one is expecting fireworks. But I like that because then maybe you can prove ‘em wrong.”
Which is exactly what One-Way Moon does. It wins you over when you least expect it, the authentic music subtly working its way into your subconscious, unforced, unhurried—just like Book Club. “We’re not chasing any sound,” Horlick says. “We’re being true to what comes out of us. Hopefully that strikes a chord.”
“Every bit as country as folk, and every bit as rural pop as it is raw American music. No pork pie hats or corny Great Gatsby get-ups, just well-written and infectious melodies coupled with honest songwriting.” – No Depression
“Book Club’s simplicity is both endearing and purposeful, leaving room for the lyrics and vocal interplay to shine. There’s no need to cover up your songwriting when it’s this spot on.” – Austin Town Hall
“☆☆☆☆ … These fine purveyors of folk-tinged indie tunes effortlessly blend well-thought-out emotional lyrics, catchy and haunting melodies, impeccable harmonies and just the right amount of country twang.” – Atlanta Music Guide
“Modern pastoral pop music that can trace a straight line back to the simple, unaffected roots of American story-song.” – Verbicide
“Playful yet elegant … ready to captivate audiences with their beautiful, haunting musings.” – Latest Disgrace