It's been six years since Edith Makes a Paper Chain recorded their last album, and Sarah Hope isn't entirely sure why.
"We all just have full-time jobs, and it was hard to get everyone together to create this album," says the frontwoman of one of the west side's favorite bands. "And then there was just good old-fashioned slacking."
The folk-tinged indie group, whose influences include Be Good Tanyas and Paper Bird, will make amends Saturday with a CD release concert for the self-recorded Theretherethere at Stargazers.
The album's title song epitomizes what Edith does best, as Sarah and her daughter Miette's mesmerizing harmonies hover over Matt Chmielarczyk's minimalist electric guitar. (Think Galaxie 500's Dean Wareham in his quieter moments.) Jeremy Van Hoy weighs in with a muted trombone part, while bassist Mike Kimlico and drummer John Litchenberg provide appropriately subdued rhythms.
It's not that the group's repertoire is limited to Mazzy Star-like soul-searching. We wouldn't still be seeing hula hoops at their shows, if that were the case. But there's always been an introspective side that sets the band apart from its peers.
Take, for instance, "Fire Song," whose melody and lyrics were written at the peak of the Waldo Canyon Fire.
"We were sitting on our friend Bill Starr's roof," says Hope. "It was supposed to be a birthday party for him, but from his roof up on the mesa, you could see everything burning. We were watching these big explosions. At first we thought they were trees, but then realized that they were houses. It was mesmerizing and ominous, and no one knew how long it would be or how much would burn."
In addition to being a CD celebration, this Saturday's show will also be a homecoming. Miette, who left for the East Coast two months ago after earning a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, is coming back for the occasion. (Since Miette's departure, the young musician's harmonies are now handled by Manitou singer-songwriter Xanthe Alexis.)
"I miss her like crazy every day," says Sarah of her daughter, "especially in the mornings when the distractions of the day haven't settled in yet and I am still kind of raw. I miss her not only as a daughter but also as a collaborator and fellow musician. But that said, I would never have wanted her to stay here — she needed to go out in the world and fulfill her passions. Ever since she was little, she was making music. That's what makes her happy."
When it comes to the music itself, Hope sees the new album as a bit less folky and slightly more pop than past efforts. "As far as the songwriting goes, it might be a little more positive or optimistic. I always used to be afraid to go there at the risk of being irrelevant. But I don't really care about that anymore. Just like anyone, my dark side is dark, but that's not all there is."
If you want to round out the weekend on another positive note, you can return to Stargazers Sunday afternoon for a benefit on behalf of Blue Star Connection, which provides musical instruments to young cancer patients through a network of hospital music-therapy programs. The concert will be headlined by My Blue Sky (featuring Wet Willie and Jeff Beck vocalist Jimmy Hall) in a tribute to the Allman Brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Alternatively, you could catch Another Shade of Hate's reunion show this Friday at the Black Sheep. Your call.