- Wild Hares duo Michael Salkind (left) and Tracy Santa have a new 10-track double EP — Hare Ball/Bottle of New Orleans.
It was probably pretty obvious that the Fourth of July festivities this year would wind up looking a bit different than in past years, and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s popular Symphony in the Park Independence Day concert series is certainly one such example. In lieu of the usual Memorial Park-based orchestral concert, obviously unable to proceed due to restrictions on crowd size, those seeking that orchestral/fireworks display nexus are encouraged to watch the fireworks from the safety and comfort of their porches, tuning in to 106.3 FM, Y96.9 FM, KCME 88.7 FM, 92.9 Peak FM or AM 740 KVOR to hear a concert broadcast. Fireworks footage will also be broadcast by KKTV, if you want a closer look or don’t feel like going outside for whatever reason.
I suppose it’s fitting of this Fourth weekend that we can all nostalgically return to the analog precursor of livestreaming for a good old-fashioned Americana orchestral spectacular, and perhaps some intrepid hauntologist or plunderphonics enthusiast out there can take up the mantle of integrating radio broadcasts, nostalgia and art music and produce some worthy successors to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s works like “Telemusik” or “Hymnen” ... I mean, what else are you going to spend your time on right now?
Well, okay, here’s another good idea: On Wednesday, July 8, champions of local music KCOS Digital Media will be holding a livestream fundraiser concert with Denver-based progressive band Amalgam Effect in support of Black Lives Matter, an ongoing cause that should certainly still be at the forefront of both artists’ and listeners’ minds and collective attention. Amalgam Effect, for their part, possess a complex, eclectic sound, equally informed by retro hard rock and classic prog artists such as Jethro Tull (maybe that’s too glib of a comparison, but their 2019 LP Sketches does prominently feature lilting, folk-inspired acoustic passages and plenty of vocalist Matt Spivack’s deft flute work). Likely not a sound you hear every day, and it’s an admirable move to dedicate their talents to a good cause.
The Wild Hares’ latest is a 10-track double EP available on 10-inch vinyl — one half, Hare Ball, featuring new recordings by the duo, and the other side, Bottle of New Orleans, collecting five solo tracks from Santa dating back to the late ’80s and early ’90s, “rescued from decaying reel-to-reel tapes at Nashville’s Welcome to 1979 studios.”
Like all of the Hares’ material to date, you can expect live cuts brimming with garage-rock energy (captured here by Dan Nelson of Rainwerks Studios). Tracks like “I Can’t Stop It” and “Traction in the Rain” are great examples of Santa’s gift for an insistent melody, adorned with frayed, rootsy edges. The country-rocker “Liquor Wagon,” a tune you may have heard live from the Hares over the years (you know, back when we did that), appears in a completely rollicking, irresistible rendition.
Santa’s archival solo material is equally intriguing — “I Don’t Want to Know Why” soars, “This World Is Just a Prison” and “Little Bit of Rain” are beautiful country ballads, the jangly instrumental “Forget Me Alphabet” bounces like the Replacements at their poppiest, and the featured early take of “Your Smile Is Killing Me” is more stripped-down and mysterious than the dramatic Hares reading on their self-titled 2011 LP. Indeed, that could be said of all of the Wild Hares’ material — there’s a delightfully mysterious, eccentric charm to Santa’s garage-rock. It’s not quite surreal, but certainly postmodern and literate, and the worlds drawn from the Wild Hares’ deceptively simple two-man lineup will continue to inspire the imagination upon repeated listens.