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Sunnybrook’s Paul North Unveils New Solo Project, Gives Status Update On Sleep Whale (It List for August 23)

Busy Summer for the Musical North Family: Denton’s Sunnybrook was essentially a solo project already, with principal member Paul North working on material for years until he drew the attention of the appropriate local parties. That in turn yielded nods from the biggest playmaker in all the land, but still left North improvising a way to get his record out.

North has released the random Sunnybrook download here and there, but now he’s trying something seemingly different: simply recording under his given name. That would be Paul Henry North, and everything about the starkness and cardinal descriptiveness of his meta-moniker screams “Western folklore tale.” So, lucky him.

The three tracks he’s posted are led by a baritone ukelele, have indulgent splashes of harmony mixed with more subtle electronic elements, and are very much along the lines of his work in the still-popular Sunnybrook. In that case, lucky you.

The most telling moment in the new tracks comes early on in the first song, entitled “Red Coats”:

I open my mind to a world of my own

Where on the record player lives “God Only Knows”

What I’d be without you

It’s a classic move in pop music to shamelessly call out your influence, and in this case subsequently quote the influence besides. Think Van Morrison shouting out to Jackie Wilson, Lou Reed’s word-for-word in memoriam to Bobby Fuller, or even local act Shiny Around the EdgesBowie reference. It’s a cringe-inducing moment for some, but if you’re already coming on strong with the ghostly harmonies and layer-cake instrumentation, why not? It beats the heck out of the countless interviews where an artist claims to have never heard his or her obvious well of inspiration.

No word yet on whether or not brother Joel North (also of Sleep Whale and also maintaining solo-outfit Northern) has an ever-collaborative hand in this particular project, but we do know that Joel has kept active this summer. Here he is describing both his new music and his old music in a recent video interview:

I used to play in band with a friend of mine named Bruce called Mom, and that was…a band basically built around organic sounding, played instruments layered over really weird, experimental, electronic noises. Now I play in a band called Northern, which is pretty much me playing just a cello and singing songs.

He also goes on to explain his abstinence from alcohol to a rather Russel Brand-esque interviewer, who hilariously keeps trying to goad North into the realm of the uncomfortable. As all interviewers should.

Finally, I asked Paul about the status of Sleep Whale since I noticed that in the interview, brother Joel sounds as if it is a thing of the past. Says, Paul North:

I think we have all been wondering that. I’m not sure myself. I know Spencer (Stephenson) had a record come out on Western Vinyl and Bruce (Blay) had an album come out on mush.

Bruce and I have been working on new material. Joel is starting to perform more regularly as Northern. Long story short: We haven’t been rehearsing, you may see a Sleep Whale show from time to time, but we are not as invested in that as heavily anymore.

Onto the List:

Video Juice (Fallout Lounge): Though this is the only video-themed night of the week at Fallout, the random videos showing above the bar are generally excellent. On recent Saturday for instance, there was a Cabaret Voltaire collection playing in its entirety.

Since this is presented by an entity that calls itself “Wax Nostalgic,” one would assume that the focus is on the past, perhaps even “The Golden Age of Music Video,” since MTV is mentioned on the invite. The genres listed include “old school hip hop, funk, glam, new wave, disco, soul” etc so you can’t be entirely sure of what you’ll see going by that broad list. But one other thing, how come everyone is so hard on Fallout Lounge?

Tap Uptown (St. John’s Wood): The average Dallas-ite probably doesn’t use Uptown and “community outreach” in the same sentence very often, but a local organization called Tap Uptown is seeking to change that. The group has been putting on a show every Tuesday in August at St. John’s Wood, culminating in a service project at North Dallas High School that will take place just before the last event in this series takes place on August 30th. That show will feature recent FrontRow interviewees The O’s. Tonight’s event will see Trophy Wives taking the stage, which is an offshoot of Somebody’s Darling.

Tap Uptown has a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters on this project, and you can get more info by emailing philo@fellowshipdallas.org. Though I think it’s a good cause, that email address was my one strange moment in looking up details on the organization. Fellowship Bible Church has a press release that says the band playing its event are “bad ass?” I better step it up a little bit.

Midas Touch Tuesdays (Beauty Bar): Featuring DJ Trademarx, this young event has already served as an after-party for one of the biggest dance-related events of the current concert season, The “Hard Summer Tour.” Though I’ve always believed that a writer should strive to be Henry James-like even when describing after-parties, we so often fall short. Oh, “this horror of waking,” as ol’ Hank Jimmy would say.

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