Backyard Tire Fire Proclaims It’s “Good To Be” with Steve Berlin-produced New Album

As we reported back in January, Bloomington, IL bar-rockers Backyard Tire Fire went into the studio with producer/member of Los Lobos Steve Berlin. The band announces that the new album will be called Good to Be and will be released on February 16th, 2010 on the band’s own record label Kelsey Street Records, and will be distributed by Thirty Tigers/SonyRed.

The band has put two songs from Good to Be up on their MySpace Page. The title track “Good to Be” I’ve heard performed live already and has the trademark Tire Fire sound. The other track is “Food For Thought” which showed up in their session. It is one of my favorite songs from that session. My first impression of the tracks is that Berlin didn’t really mess too much with the band’s sound, but I think I’m noticing some new reverbby guitar sounds that I don’t think existed on the other records.

Backyard Tire Fire released their last record The Places We Lived on vinyl– they have been very upfront about their desire to keep the recordings very analog. I’m hoping they continue the tradition with a vinyl release of Good to Be, too.

Tracklisting (with links to recent performances on — build your own Good to Be!):
1. Roadsong #39 (Live 10-17-09)
2. Ready or Not (Live 5-22-09)
3. Learning to Swim (Live 1-17-09)
4. Brady (Live 5-22-09)
5. Food for Thought (Live 5-17-09)
6. Estelle (Live 6-6-09)
7. Hell and Back (Live 4-11-09)
8. Good To Be (Live 10-17-09)
9. A Thousand Gigs Ago (Live 7-3-09)
10. Piss and Moan (Live 5-22-09)
11. Once Upon a Time

Click Here for Backyard Tire Fire’s Website

Click Here for Backyard Tire Fire’s MySpace Page

Click Here for Backyard Tire Fire’s Daytrotter session that also includes a version of “Food for Thought.”

Click Here to hear Backyard Tire Fire Live courtesy of

Tortoise Picks Favorite Instrumental Tracks for Time Out New York

From a twitter by Thrill Jockey, I found out about this article at the New York Edition of Time Out where John McEntire, Jeff Parker and Doug McCombs of Tortoise provide a playlist of their all-time favorite instrumental tracks. The five tracks picked as you might expect provide a peek into the influences of the band. While it’s cool that Time Out collected these tracks and provide a streaming player for us to sample the tracks, it doesn’t explain who the artists are or maybe the significance of the tracks.

1. Sonny Sharrock – “Who Does She Hope to Be” from 1991’s Ask The Ages album on Axiom Records. This was picked by McEntire, and I’d never heard of Sharrock before this. The track ends up being a mini-class on post-bop jazz. The beautiful and meloncholy track is a short and sweet track featuring the guitar work of Sharrock, which at times sounds a lot like Santana. We also get some amazing horn work from Pharoah Sanders whom Sonny worked with early in his career. Charnett Moffett provides some beautiful double bass as well. Also in the combo is noted Coltrane sideman drummer Elvin Jones. The song at 4:42 is the most direct and concise track on the album, and frankly one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard. Sharrock died in 1994 at a young 53 years old, but established himself as an influential guitarist in the free jazz space. As a side note, Sharrock was the composer for the Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast TV show. I keep playing this song over-and-over. Amazing song.

2.  Latin Playboys – “Viva la Raza” from 1994’s self-titled release on Slash/Warner. Chosen by McCombs, this is the opening track from the Los Lobos side-project Latin Playboys. An interesting choice. Latin Playboys is made up of Los Lobos members David Hidalgo and Louis Perez along with noted producer and engineer combo Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Froom and Blake are responsible for a bunch of amazing albums over the years, but in the context of the Latin Playboys, they produced the “experimental trilogy” of Los Lobos albums Kiko (1992), Colossal Head (1998) and This Time (1999).  So, it isn’t surprising that during this very fruitful period in the band’s history that Latin Playboys– itself a bit experimental– would form. The second and last Latin Playboys release Dose was released in 1999– also during this period. In my opinon if you listen to the Latin Playboys along with the trilogy, it doesn’t sound like anything other than part of the Los Lobos catalog. According to the Wikipedia article on Latin Playboys, Hidalgo brought some demos he recorded at home to Froom who suggested that they be used in a new band rather than their intended recipient Los Lobos.

3.  Art Ensemble of Chicago – “Rock Out” from the 1969 album Message To Our Folks. Chosen by Jeff Parker. Not really very surprising, since he spends nearly all of his non-Tortoise time gigging constantly in jazz combos. I suspect that he is very influenced by the long-standing tradition that the Art Ensemble has become in its 42-year existence in all of its variations. Early pioneers in the avante-garde jazz arena. This band’s history alone could keep me tied up for weeks digging into their catalog.

4. Link Wray – “Rumble” – Chosen by Doug McCombs, Link Wray and the Ray Men’s 1958 hit “Rumble” originally on the Cadence label is the precursor to a number of music genres– surf, punk, metal. According to the allmusic article on Link Wray, he single-handedly invented the power chord. “Rumble” continues to be a familar tune as it was used pretty prominently in Pulp Fiction. Paved the way for every instrumental band since, and I guess that would include Tortoise!

5. Ennio Morricone“A Fist Full of Dollars” Morricone more than anyone else I think influenced the Tortoise sound the most. Even on the upcoming Beacons of Ancestorship, there is a track called “The Fall of Seven Diamonds Plus One” with its arpeggiated guitar (likely the Bass VI played by Doug who picked this song) as well as the bag full of metal percussion is certainly recalls a spaghetti western soundtrack. Instead of trying to hire Morricone to score his upcoming movie Inglorious Basterds maybe Tarantino should have called up Tortoise.

An entertaining mix– I just wish it had more songs on it. A comment I made on the article with the mix was that I was surprised that Doug hadn’t picked “The Lonely Surfer” by Jack Nitzsche. When I saw Tortoise in Madison last year I had a chance to talk to Doug about his favorite topic, the Fender Bass VI. He told me the greatest example of a Bass VI song was “The Lonely Surfer,” and that he’d tried to convince Tortoise to cover this song.

Click Here to visit the Time Out New York Exclusive Playlist from Tortoise. Update: The player doesn’t work anymore, sadly, so I’ve updated the above list to include YouTube Links.

B-Sides Favorites Backyard Tire Fire Return to Studio With Steve Berlin

Ed Anderson

It was only last August that Bloomington, IL bar-rockin’ band Backyard Tire Fire released their fantastic The Places We Lived which I reviewed here.

Ed Anderson, his brother Matt and Tim Kramp are heading back into the studio in late February with Grammy-Award winning producer Steve Berlin who is also a member of Los Lobos whose last album The Town and the City was reviewed here. Berlin found out about BTF when they opened for Los Lobos last October. They dug Tire Fire’s show so much they invited the band to sit in on the encore! The following week Berlin reached out to talk to the band about the possibility of producing their next record! Berlin said about BTF, “Great songs, great playing and great guys. I’m really looking forward to the recording sessions… In my opinion they are one of America’s best young bands.” I agree.

I think the matching of Berlin to Backyard Tire Fire should be a winning combination.  As with previous efforts from Backyard Tire Fire, the next album will be recorded in a studio, to tape and completely analog. This means that they’ll be pressing vinyl like the did on their last record, I’m sure. The sessions will take place at Type Foundry Studio in Portland, Oregon with Jeff Stuart Saltzman engineering.

They guys recorded a couple of songs for Daytrotter last year that will end up on the album, “Food for Thought” and “Ready or Not.” A couple of really great songs even in their minimal form for Daytrotter.

Click Here for the Daytrotter page for Backyard Tire Fire.

Backyard Tire Fire is on tour starting this weekend through a stop in Iowa City opening for JJ Grey and Mofro on Sunday, February 8th. There’s a gap in the tour dates until March 13th in which they will have been in the studio. Iowa gets three stops through May, so that is pretty cool. I still haven’t made it to the Redstone Room, maybe by April 30th the snow will have subsided and I can make it down there.

January 30 & 31 / Louie’s / Bloomington, IL
February 3 / Bluebird / Bloomington, IN*
February 4 / Downing University Center Theatre / Bowling Green, KY*
February 5 / The Intersection / Grand Rapids, MI*
February 6 / The Magic Bag / Ferndale, MI*
February 7 / The Dame / Lexington, KY*
February 8 / Industry / Iowa City, IA*
March 13 / Chicago Street / Joliet, IL
March 15 / Mountain Stage / Charleston, WV
March 19 / 40 Watt Club / Athens, GA**
March 20 / Emerald Lounge / Asheville, NC**
March 21 / Gottrocks / Greenville, SC**
April 2 / Locals Only / Indianapolis, IN***
April 3 / Southgate House / Cincinnati, OH
April 4 / Barley’s Taproom / Knoxville, TN
April 10 / Mojo’s / Columbia, MO
April 11 / Off Broadway / St. Louis, MO****
April 14 / Wisconsin Public TV / Madison, WI
April 16 / Gerstle’s / Louisville, KY**
April 17 / Hangar 9 / Carbondale, IL**
April 18 / Double Door / Chicago, IL**
April 23 / 7th Street / Minneapolis, MN
April 24 / High Noon Saloon / Madison, WI
April 25 / Green Room / Sheboygan, WI
April 26 / Brown Baer / Elkhart Lake, WI
April 30 / Redstone Room / Davenport, IA
May 1 / Nutty’s North / Sioux Falls, SD
May 2 / Vaudeville Mews / Des Moines, IA

* Supporting JJ Grey & Mofro
** Co-bill with Bloodkin
***Co-bill with Steepwater Band
****Co-bill with Pokey LaFarge