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Accidental Birds

April 9, 2021

A week or so after last November’s election, I set up a little home studio for the first time since I sold all my analog recording gear around the turn of the century (this century). I had no experience making digital recordings on my own and, as Nina Hale can attest, my first sessions with the new gizmos were sometimes interrupted by cursing, moaning, and other signs of frustration and bewilderment. Mostly it was fun, though, and within a week or two I was making things that sounded pretty much like music, having fun programming beats and playing or sequencing synthesizers as well as acoustic and electric pianos and guitars. To better gauge where I was at, I asked John Fields if he would mix the first song I’d finished on the new equipment. He sent me something fairly quickly, and though in the end I decided that track wasn’t quite up to scratch as a song or recording, I loved John’s mix and knew I could make a decent album from home if I cooked up better material and called on other musicians to contribute remote overdubs.

The album, Accidental Birds, will come out June 4, to the extent that my release dates are strictly enforced. About half its songs were written during the recording period, between later November of last year and February of this one, either at the piano or by shuttling between piano and laptop. The others were written earlier in 2021, and one, “Devil Blush,” is a revision of a song originally intended for the backburnered collaborative musical that gave rise to last year’s Munson-Hicks Party Supplies, a set of my songs mainly sung by my friend John Munson. Most of those earlier songs seemed to demand a more old-fashioned recording approach—they had time shifts, say, or other qualities that I didn’t think I could manage electronically or remotely—so in February, with Covid numbers being lower in Minnesota than they had been for a while (lower, too, alas, they they are as I write this), I brought together two overlapping but different five-piece groups for two masked and socially distanced one-day sessions at Creation Audio, a studio near my house. In the interest of safety, we didn’t rehearse; I sent demos, charts, and a few notes, and we worked stuff up in the studio. Well, the players are really good, and it is fun to record when it initially comes together. My vocals and a few other overdubs were added to those basic tracks over the last week of February.

A slew of dazzling and inspiring musicians contributed to the album. In alphabetical order they are Jake Baldwin, JT Bates, Liz Draper, Kevin Gastonguay, Zacc Harris, Peter Hennig, Michelle Kinney, Adam Levy, Charlie Lincoln, John Munson, Christopher Thomson, Janey Winterbauer, and Jeremy Yylvisaker. All tracks were mixed with great inventiveness and expertise by John Fields. I made the album rather quickly and didn’t correct every one of my mistakes, but I’m proud of it and hope it coheres despite its disparate influences and approaches.

The titular phrase refers to birds that migrate beyond their normal range, by being blown off course, for instance, or by resting too long on a ship, or through inexperience, or for mysterious reasons. It looks like I’m not the first to use the phrase metaphorically, and on top of that I’m not entirely sure how the metaphor applies.

 

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NR MINT and some updates

December 5, 2019

I’ve been doing some music criticism at NR MINT, basically a blog with modest journal pretensions in that it might occasionally publish pieces by outside writers. I enjoyed talking to the writer Austin R. Wilson about writing and music. Here’s the interview. John Munson and I are pretty much done with Munson-Hicks Party Supplies, a new set of my songs mainly sung by John. We’ll finish up a a few odds and ends after the holidays and can probably get the album out in late spring or early summer. In addition to John and me, it features guitarist Zacc Harris, drummer Richard Medek, and several brilliant guests. More later.

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September 15, 2019

After seven years of dragging my Texas-born, boot-clad feet, I’ve finally taken steps to make “Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Greene” available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming/digital sites.

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Henry Threadgill Piece

February 14, 2019

Here’s a long piece I wrote for City Pages about the composer, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist Henry Threadgill, in advance of a two-day festival being held this weekend at Walker Art Center.

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Sweeney Todd’s Show, Saturday, March 3

February 22, 2018

Dylan Hicks and the Looming Crisis will be doing a low volume but still rock ‘n’ roll show at Sweeney Todd’s Salon (and Listen Room) on Saturday, March 3. Some new, old, and brand new songs. Yes, there will be drinks and chairs. You can get advance tickets here.

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Killed Puzzle

January 26, 2018

In looking for an old document, I came across something I wrote for a puzzle column that was retired before this last effort published. I tried to paste it here but couldn’t seem to preserve the formatting; after a half hour, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Anyway, I’ll post it here, and put up the answers sometime next week. Posted only for fun, but I’d be happy to mail an LP or CD of my latest album to the person who gets the most correct answers, provided that person lives at an address that won’t force me to shell out for expensive international shipping. Puzzle First Quarter 17

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A minus review from Robert Christgau

October 27, 2017

Really cool to see this review of Ad Out from Robert Christgau. I’ve been reading him since a friend pointed me to “Rock Albums of the ’70s” when I was a teenager, so it’s kind of a thrill to know he digs our stuff.

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Clear Me Some Space

October 4, 2017

My brilliant friends Carolyn Swiszcz and Wilson Webb made this video for the new country-funk single by Dylan Hicks and the Looming Crisis.

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Thomas Love Peacock

July 30, 2017

The latest edition of Post Road includes a little piece of mine on Thomas Love Peacock’s Romantic satire Nightmare Abbey.

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Ken Waterhouse Talent & Drywall

July 30, 2017

My manager has a new Facebook page, which includes a (supposedly) promotional video spot for my forthcoming album.

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