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until the hatchet is buried

Liner notes from the limited edition vinyl release of Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys – Kill off the Night

Every band has a beginning. Every band has an end. The arc of their story can be as revelatory as their output. For Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys, Kill off the Night represents an inception point, if an unlikely one, considering their eventual identity as western swing revivalists and dance floor favorites.

Carlos de Españia photo 1994

At the end of 1993, surrealist alt-rock quartet Myself a Living Torch found themselves at an impasse. Bright and songwriting partner, arranger and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire E-Bone Schulz (now Harlan T Bobo), had effectively exhausted their deep bag of idiosyncratic statements. As if awakened from a fugue, along with trusty rhythm sidekicks Chris "Troy" Green (bass) and Christopher Fisher (drums), the restless pair shed yet another layer of skin. On a dare, the group rebranded. Stomp boxes and samplers were kicked aside, traded for more rustic tools. Mercurial attitudes were refit with a broader, though more direct empathy. Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys, irony fully intended but reverence intact, set out into the inky-dark void of American heartbreak — the abyss where the traveler acquiesces, realizing his compass is useless. Here is the midnight of lost tomorrows, the harrowing instant before the morning after forever, the ghost town where loneliness begins.

What became was a set of stylized recordings, delivered in a mode that could be termed Western Noir. Five songs were tracked by Kevin Ink on vintage gear at his Studio That Time Forgot on Capp Street in San Francisco's Mission district and five were captured on lo-fi 8-track at the band's Minna Mansion rehearsal flat in SOMA — all ten waltzing in a cautious embrace with sadness, deftly lending character and voice to the haunted soul of loss. In sum, Kill off the Night is a coy nod to the melancholy elegance of 1960s cosmopolitan “crossover” music — not country, not pop, not rock, not blues — material typified by the songs of Jimmy Webb and the production of Al De Lory — the kind that, for those of a certain age, lingers in the corners of your memory long after the phonograph ceases to play.

On some velvet-draped midnight, give this record a spin or two. And while you're there, remember the “days of suede” — the days when you had it made, lying on the sand, doing what lovers should do. Then seize the dreams above the clouds and kill off the night 'til the hatchet is buried.

Also now available: From deep in the vault, the 1995 Waggletone Records 7" vinyl release of "I'm Still Missing You" b/w "Let's Get Drunk and Talk About Marriage" with newly designed and printed insert sleeve. To order the 7" and the deluxe Kill off the Night 12" LP visit the Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys Bandcamp site.


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