Creech: more time and space

Creech have been a fairly productive bunch since they formed in 2010. The Spokane natives played their first show on the eve of the 2011 New Year and until now have released a self-titled album (no longer online) and an EP entitled Seed, in addition to starting their own tape label, Haze Tapes, which has put out seven releases including a Palisades/Spectres split.  In July they are releasing their full length Pasture, which was written and recorded at their house in the Sunnyland neighborhood over the past year with tracking taking place in the Fall and mixing just wrapping up over the last several months.

The eight track release was engineered by Jackson Mathey, a co-worker of the Paulsons’, who jumped at the opportunity for a new recording project.  With tracking occurring at the band’s place of residence they were allowed to focus more time on production and writing, which makes Pasture their most fulfilling endeavor to date. While not a concept album the band maintains that this release is their most cohesive recording and the one they are most proud of because they were able to do it in their own space.

“It was nice to say ‘Ok I’m going to sit and play drums in my living room’ as opposed to in the studio where your mind is shocked being in this weird environment with this equipment and there’s a time limit,” said drummer John “Will” Paulson.

While their initial nine track self-titled release got them off the ground they noticed leaps in content progression by the time they recorded the four song Seed in the Fairhaven recording studio with Eric Wallace. But at Fairhaven they were still at the mercy of the clock with pressure to get in and get out, so being able to a more earnest endeavor on their own time is no doubt more rewarding.  Pasture will also be their first release with a dedicated bass player, Jack Aldrich (of Portals Align), who was involved with the writing process from start to finish; their previous EP and full length were done when the band was still a three piece and enlisted moonlighting bass players such as Tom Smith from Little Elephant.

Pasture has a very familiar feel to it and can sound similar to early Death Cab for Cutie at times, while other elements are reminiscent of The Lonely Forest, The Velveteen, The Lewis, The Jim Yoshii Pile Up, perhaps Elliot Smith, and some other mellow influences that evade my memory. It is a very Northwest coffeehouse circa 2003 album. Many of these qualities could be attributed to the recording atmospheres of living rooms and bedrooms (which encourages additional processed reverb), or it could be the mix of spacious piano and guitars in contrast to the tight closet drum tracks. It is also the dreamy and full-toned, yet bare-boned, instrumentation that lends to this unintentional pastiche of decade old qualities.

Rob Paulson’s slightly out-of-tune Yamaha CP-70 electric piano add a nice warbled texture to the songs, especially alongside the bendy, reverbed notes of Mike Grave’s guitar. Paulson’s voice has that classic “in my bedroom” quality with drawn out, subdued, and doubled vocal tracks that alternate between high and low fidelities.  His vocals possess little movement in melody but when it occurs it is tasteful and gratifying. Additionally, Aldrich’s six-string bass playing is comfortable both in the rhythm section as well as underpinning the melodies by mirroring the guitar and piano lines.

Pasture is charming and reminds me of when I listened to music like this almost exclusively, when I was a sad bastard enamored with the tepid and crestfallen sounds of piano and guitar, as opposed to the sad bastard I am today trying to summon a semblance of feeling that isn’t numbing melancholy through angrier, tortured, and progressive extravagance.  It’s lo-fi, DIY, PNW, acronym-ed and anachronistic.  It also provides a great backdrop to the first day off work I’ve had in a little while which is, of course, grey and dreary.

The band plans to release Pasture as a cassette on Haze Tapes after mastering work by Chris Vita is finished.  Haze tapes began when they were trying to decide how to release Seed, and Rob suggested cassette as a joke. After looking into they decided it was their best option, as many bands verified lately, because the cost was minimal, a download code could be given with each copy, and they still get to provide a physical component to the album. When they released Seed they also wanted to do a release for their friends in Club Scouts and things snow balled from there with them buying a cassette duper and learning how to set up tape masters and print/cut/fold cassette artwork into place (with the artwork for Pasture being done by Brazilian photographer Thiago Vidotte), which they do by hand for every tape.

“Plus I just like how cassettes sound,” added Will Paulson, “We grew up with CD’s so it’s nice to keep this previous format alive.”

Creech are already back to writing songs after taking a break while mixing the album, but even as they release Pasture and focus on future material things are a about to get a little complicated for the band: the Paulson brothers are moving to Seattle where they will likely work together on Rob’s solo material (he has put out three solo albums) in addition to Creech.  As a result, they are not making plans to tour in support of the album and instead will focus on playing shows between Bellingham and Seattle over the next year with possible plans to tour next Summer.

“This album is the most accurate representation of us and we want to be able to send it ahead of time when it comes time to tour,” said Rob Paulson.