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Bret Busch – Pills Lace & Confetti
(out July 14)
Although Pills Lace & Confetti bears the name Bret Busch, it’s a product of working relationships formed over his 25-plus years as the singer of a half-dozen Atlanta bands, including Parlour, Pardner, Ramada and The Hollidays, projects that sprung from the same fertile Cabbagetown scene that launched artists like Cat Power and Benjamin Smoke.
The core team behind Busch’s new solo debut came from two wonderfully disparate ends of the musical spectrum—the indie-centric Merge Records roster (including members of Destroyer and The Rock*A*Teens) and the backing band of hyper-creative R&B star Janelle Monae. These guest artists’ combined talents and Busch’s admirable range as a vocalist coalesce on Pills Lace & Confetti, creating a sparkling, unapologetically loungey, lysergic trop-pop album—a laidback, caipirinha-sipping affair peppered with breezy tropicalia, sweltering disco, pensive jazz and boozy country flourishes.
It’s worth noting that when Busch isn’t making his own music, he moonlights as the lead singer of beloved Smiths tribute band Smithsonian, convincingly conjuring the expressive voice, tender heart and tongue-in-cheek melodrama of Stephen Patrick Morrissey. Going back decades, Busch has also had a long-running musical relationship with his friend—and frequent Neko Case collaborator—Kelly Hogan.
The groundwork was first laid for Busch’s new album years ago when he ran into Rock*A*Teens bassist (and Pills Lace & Confetti producer) Will Joiner at a mutual friend’s wedding. Having recorded together years earlier, Joiner suggested it was high time Busch made a formal solo release.
From there, the two pieced together an impressive supporting cast of musical acquaintances. “Will and I have such an amazing network of musician friends,” Busch says. “I mean serious, working musicians. We joked that he and I are the only ones who have day jobs.”
Rafael Pareira, from Janelle Monae’s band (and Tribo Records), was tapped by Joiner to engineer the album, co-produce and add percussion. Fellow Monae backing musician Terrence Brown contributed a lush psychedelic feel on synth & keys, and Destroyer’s Joseph Shabason provided some decidedly chill saxophone on the album.
The fourth member of Busch’s core team for Pills Lace & Confetti is Rock*A*Teens / Tenement Halls singer-guitarist Chris Lopez. A full third of the record, including two originals and a cover of “Sun’s Up” from The Rock*A*Teens’ brilliant 2000 album Sweet Bird of Youth, were written by Lopez. “I’m from South Georgia, and I think Chris is a quintessential, modern Southern rock artist,” Busch says. “I knew that his whole ’50s-influenced vibe and his fascinating lyrics would be the perfect fit for this project.”
The personal touch of each artist involved with Pills Lace & Confetti informs a varied approach that—whether soulful or serene—always accentuates the upbeat story-songs. “Since I love and have played so many styles over the years, I wasn’t trying to do just one thing with this record,” Busch says. “I didn’t want it to be too crazy, and I wasn’t trying to be too avant-garde. Really, I’m a singer first, and that’s what I wanted to present by doing this project under my name. I wanted to have at least one country-ish song on there (“Where I’m Going”) because I’d done a lot of that with my band Pardner. But, other than that, I really just let my collaborators guide the sound.”
Further examples of the variety offered up by Busch and his supporting cast include the hushed, dreamy jazz ballad “Wedding Waltz,” a faithful cover of Gerry Rafferty’s AM Gold hit “Right Down the Line,” the soulful Brazilian flavor of “Small Town Fight,” the upbeat Afro-Caribbean-injected indie rock of the Lopez-penned “Ink Black Sea,” and the downright danceable “Summer” and “Puget Sound.” Each new track underscores the versatility of the musicians involved.
Outside the dark confines of a seedy fetish club, pills, lace and confetti might not seem like an obvious combination, yet Busch and his friends have emerged with a satisfyingly cohesive record culled from a diverse set of musical interests and backgrounds. While the project’s modest namesake goes out of his way to give most of the credit to his collaborators, his seasoned vocals—an alluring blend of uptown class and rock & roll depravity—are what most noticeably ties together these potentially incongruent strands into something focused and beautiful.
For press inquiries, please contact: Rachel Hurley