Glen Phillips has always been a courageous and inviting songwriter. During his years as lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, the band’s elegant folk/pop sound and his honest, introspective lyrics helped them forge a close bond with their fans. Since starting his solo career, Phillips has pared his music down to its emotional core, concentrating on the simple truths of love and relationships, with a profound spiritual understanding.
Swallowed by the New takes on life’s difficult transitions and delivers some of the Phillips’ most vulnerable songs. “I made this album during the dissolution of a 23 year marriage, Phillips says. “A major chapter of my life was coming to a close, and I discovered early on that I had to work hard to get through the transition with compassion and clarity. These songs were a big part of that process.”
The album was recorded in May of 2015 with producer/bass player Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams), Jay Bellerose (drums), Chris Bruce (guitar), Jebin Bruni (keys) and Ruby Amanfu (vocals). The sparse arrangements are centered on Phillips’ vocals and acoustic guitar.
Shimmering electric guitar accents drift through a curtain of sighing strings on Go, a ballad that bids a poignant farewell to a lover at the end of a relationship.
“And though I want you close / This light can only glow / To
warn you far away from shore / Saying I love you, now go,”
Leaving Oldtown has the feel of a classic pop ballad, with a string section and piano supporting a poignant vocal, as Phillips describes a man, “hollow as a sparrow bone,” packing up his belongings as winter approaches.
The Easy Ones focuses on the importance of staying present when it’s not easy or simple, but necessary. Joined
in harmony with his 13-year daughter, Phillips says:
“You can’t just love the easy ones / You’ve got to let them in /
When you’d rather just run.”
Amnesty is a gentle rocker, with twang-heavy guitars, a funky back beat and elegant string accents, it chronicles a
long journey of searching for understanding and safe harbor.
“I’m here to catch some kind of spark / In every face I see /
And offer amnesty.”
Held Up suggests a gospel tune being chanted by a chain gang. The stomping drumbeat and jubilant handclaps support a vocal that faces the scales of judgment; in balance between self-recrimination and salvation.
“Brother you ain’t so broken / Sister you ain’t so small /
Everybody goes together / Or nobody goes at all.”
The folk hymn Grief and Praise was inspired by writer Martin Prechtel who maintains that “grief is praising those things we love and have lost, and praise is grieving those things we love and will lose”. It sums up the philosophy of the record in no uncertain terms:
“For all that you love will be taken some day / By the angel of
death or the servants of change / In a floodwater tide without
rancor or rage / So sing loud while you’re able / In grief and
Swallowed by the New is full of the inviting melodies that have always marked Phillips’ work, while his singing reaches a new degree of intimacy and immediacy. The arrangements hint at country, soul, folk, rock and classic pop, without ever sounding derivative. The emotions may be raw, but they are guided by Phillips’ steady vocals towards healing and renewal.
Phillips started Toad the Wet Sprocket in 1986, when he was still in high school. He was as surprised as anyone when their low-key folk rock landed them on the pop charts. When the band members decided to go their separate ways, Phillips began a solo career with Abulum followed by Winter Pays for Summer, Mr. Lemons and Secrets of the New Explorers. Always open to new projects and unlikely collaborations, he’s toured and recorded with Works Progress Administration, a band that included members of Nickel Creek, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Elvis Costello’s Attractions; Mutual Admiration Society with Nickel Creek; Remote Tree Children, an experimental project with John Askew and Plover, with Neilson Hubbard and Garrison
“I enjoy the spontaneity of acoustic performance, where I can take the show wherever it needs to go and follow the lead of an audience instead of following a set list. There’s more talking, more stories, and more of a loose feel. The subject matter is on the serious side, but I feel like the perspective is ultimately positive. Life is about changes, no matter how we may try and pretend otherwise. This album is all about learning how to face change.”
Toad The Wet Sprocket
Toad the Wet Sprocket is an American alternative rock band formed in Santa Barbara, California, in 1986. The band at the time consisted of vocalist/guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss, who stopped touring in 2017 and left the band in 2020. Guss was replaced by drummer Josh Daubin, who had been supporting them as their drummer on recent tours. They had chart success in the 1990s with singles that included “Walk on the Ocean”, “All I Want”, “Something’s Always Wrong”, “Fall Down”, and “Good Intentions”. The band broke up in 1998 to pursue other projects; however, they began touring the United States again in 2006 for short-run tours each summer in small venues. In December 2010, the band announced their official reunion as a full-time working band and started writing songs for their first studio album of new material since their 1997 Columbia Records release, Coil. Their most recent full-length album, Starting Now, was released on August 27, 2021. – Wikipedia
SAN FRANCISCO INDIE-ROCKER nerd Megan Slankard and her band The Wreckage have independently sold over 40,000 copies of five self-released albums and are currently planning consecutive releases of a brand new double-EP project in 2022. The new EPs, which were co-produced with Nashville Producer Alex Wong (Vienna Teng, Delta Rae), will showcase new sides of Megan’s music, balancing delightfully belligerent rock and roll with lush cinematic soundscapes of orchestral instruments and robot harmonies.
Pre-pandemic, Megan packed 2018 and 2019 with over 10 months of touring, including a 50-show Guitar Center tour with BOSE Professional, a bio-coastal songwriter tour with Nashville’s Alex Wong, and a 30-date, cross-country tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket.
Her songwriting has received national and international recognition: she was a finalist the 2021, 2020, and 2018 Unsigned Only Competition, a finalist in the 2020 and 2018 International Songwriting Competition, and a finalist in the 2019 International Acoustic Music Awards. Megan won first place in the 2017 Unsigned Only Music Competition (AAA Category) for a punk song she wrote, record, and performed herself in her kitchen, smack dab in the middle of San Francisco. (Sorry neighbors.)
Megan’s adventures have also included touring with Dire Straits co-founder David Knopfler throughout Europe, duets with Pat Monahan and Train, performing for a TedX event, co-writing, performing, and producing a song for San Francisco’s KFOG’s Breast Cancer Research charity drive (featuring featured guest singers Hozier, Florence Welch, Steve Earle, Grace Potter and more,) playing electric guitar on Jimmy Kimmel Live, singing the National Anthem dressed as Princess Leia at Oracle Park for the San Francisco Giants (and five other times, dressed as herself), singing for Glen Keane’s animated short “Duet” for Google’s Spotlight Stories, and even participating on two episodes of TLC’s reality makeover series, What NOT to Wear (she really had no idea.)
“Megan Slankard is something of an indie sensation. The Bay Area based indie singer-songwriter has a powerful, expressive voice and pairs that with honest, heartfelt lyrics. With five self-released albums up her sleeve… you can’t help but be impressed by her industry.” – MONO
Megan proudly uses Bose Professional sound systems, Guild acoustic guitars, LR Baggs pickups, Swart amplifiers, and JH Audio IEMs. She also loves and drinks copious amounts of tea from her local tea company NUMI.