In the fall of 2010, musician Eric Krewson founded The Chairman Dances, and the band set about releasing music at a phenomenal gait -- around one record a year. And they brought those sounds to basements and bars across their hometown of Philadelphia and as far as they could manage across the country. Things began to change for the band when their 2016 record, "Time Without Measure" started to gain traction from online media, and in just a few short months, they were opening for Rhett Miller of The Old 97's.
Adapting and blending bits of early '90s indie rock, chamber pop and folk-ish introspection, the band lays out a comprehensive landscape of loping rhythms and gorgeous melodies. Their particular brew of "bookish indie rock" is startling in its honesty and execution, awash in nuanced sentiment and circling pop movements. The band has amassed a considerable list of influences, but their work isn't just a compilation of uninterested homages -- it's a complex and emotional collection of experiences that seem to fill the chambers of your heart. And you can hear all this motion and activity threaded throughout the songs on their forthcoming record, "Child of My Sorrow," which is due out Sept. 7 via Black Rd Records.
Recently, Krewson took some time to discuss a few of his most influential albums for The Southern Sounding. Check out his choices and thoughts below.
Okkervil River - "Down the River of Golden Dreams"
"A close friend gave me this album as a Christmas or birthday present in 2003. It was recommended to him by a friend in Austin. By 2003, I knew plenty of albums with thoughtful lyrics, but nothing prepared me for what I heard here. The arrangements, in large part the work of Jonathan Meiburg (of Shearwater), are wholly original and give the impression of floating down the dream-bearing river of the album’s title."
Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, Pat Methany - "Different Trains & Electric Counterpoint"
"If I never heard Steve Reich’s compositions, I may not have studied musicology (I wrote my thesis on his 'It’s Gonna Rain,' a short piece, for tape, based on a sermon by a Pentecostal preacher). Without that schooling, I wouldn’t have learned to write. I wouldn’t be working at an academic music library. The music I make with The Chairman Dances aside, my life might have turned out radically differently had I not, in 2006 or 2007, heard a radio program dedicated to Reich’s music. I remember, I was driving in Philadelphia, headed north on 38th Street and stopped at a red light, when I first heard the opening gesture of 'Different Trains.'"
Franz Schubert, Thomas Quasthoff, Charles Spencer - "Winterreise"
"Much written before the turn of the twentieth century (musically and otherwise) is assumed to be irrelevant, at best, sentimental and naïve at worst. I write assumed because inquiry is discouraged. 'Winterreise' is fascinating. It’s a song cycle that retains little traditional narrative. There is no action, all of that took place beforehand, before the first song begins."
Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones – "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman"
"I came to this album as the band and I arranged and prepared to record 'Child of My Sorrow.' Hartman’s voice is rich -- it is immense -- and yet somehow agile; he had incredible command of his voice. As I rehearsed the songs I wrote, altering melodies and trying out different techniques, it was Johnny Hartman, more than any other singer, who was my vocal teacher in absentia."