The Big Shitty

by Paul Curreri

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about

This October, Tin Angel Records will proudly release The Big Shitty, the eighth album by Virginian songwriter / guitarist / producer, Paul Curreri. Primarily recorded over four day's time in a wintery Berlin, Curreri's much-celebrated guitar prowess is supported by the excellent English rhythm section he's toured with for the past few years -- Joe Carvell (bass) & Euan Rodger (drums). With the exception of one track on which his wife, the lovely Devon Sproule, pops up on a very distant clarinet (a new interest), like his last two albums, Curreri handles all additional instrumentation himself.

Leaning deeply forward into arrangements which are spacious, electrified, and sharp, the resulting performances by the core group seem graced by a sort've musical fearlessness. And Curreri, heady & hunting, at times sounds viciously close to unhinged. And perhaps he should.

The Big Shitty seems a place populated by a people nervously questioning their long-trusted paths, whose gangs are in various states of dissolution. Their comfy defaults, the bumper stickers, even the tattoos look different. The truth is not just out there, it's cracking its knuckles on your front porch... again.

"The last time I was in this ditch / I must not have thought I was done with it. / Here beside the broken mattress: / Two bottles of red, two books of matches."

Explosive and evocative (and often surprisingly humorous), Curreri's lyricism indicates his familiarity with the place. But on the surface, this batch of songs seems less immediately autobiographical, more character-driven, more fantastic. On "Hacket," swampy guitars high-five an ironically sunshiny piano, and a young man at a critical impasse is introduced:

"I should tell you: Hacket born John Justice. John, just as his father was; / Justice: from him mother's side. / John became Hacket after quitting every sports team. / It was a funny time. / Still, Hacket was happy till a bug hatched inside him, / Its chemical guano set to shorting his penchants. / Add that to the booze and life's general break dance -- / Gets tough to harmonize."

And there are the tribal people who inhabit "The South Tip," who meet weekly to dance and cut meat beneath the stars and the eyes of history ("The past stretched out like a tall smoker lying down."). Atop a single trancey guitar riff, babies are born, drums circle, and young lovers try to figure it out:

"A teenaged boy said, 'hello.' / She couldn't see who it was. / But it didn't matter, because they had not met. / 'Hello, you!' and they laughed. / They shared a cigarette with bug in it. / She said, 'I feel like a balloon.' / He said, 'I feel like a big tree, / and I hope you get tangled.' / An old person found them. He sent them back into the group."

Still, one can't help but be aware of the occasional parallels between these scenarios and Curreri's personal life. It seems he and Sproule are finally leaving "The Velvet Rut," the nickname for Charlottesville, VA, their hometown at the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains. (Curreri's fifth album, which received 5 stars in MOJO, wore the nickname as its title.) This fall, the couple is relocating to Berlin, Germany. The album's final track, "Who Got Gang?," seems to frame the decision around the slow decline of a very special friend:"Jack was slender as a perfect function, / With a gate so Spanish and over the weather." But the well eventually runs dry:

"Jack's passing made me leave the country. / It was my wife's idea. I was drunk and ugly. / Just a killer carving, baby, just a ruthless tempo, baby. / And in time the blame I choked unfolded. / Jack, you were better than the folks could've known they wanted. / Just a constant vogue, baby, just all around, baby."

While it wouldn't be a misinterpretation to call The Big Shitty dark, there is a well-lit elegance to Curreri's articulation of its subject matter -- lyrically, but also via his melodic and production sense. One of our staff noted that she thought she'd still understand the album "even if Paul weren't singing in English." High praise, and well-deserved.

Tin Angel Records is the UK Midlands-based happy home to an eccentric collection of songwriters and performers including Devon Sproule, Baby Dee, Charlie Parr, Black Carrot, Kelly Joe Phelps & Corinne West, Two Wings, Larsen and more. We are very proud to introduce you to Paul Curreri's exciting new album, The Big Shitty.

credits

released October 31, 2011

Produced by Paul Curreri

Joe Carvell played the bass
Euan Rodger played the drums
Paul Curreri played the guitars and the other stuff plus sang the singing
Devon Sproule played the clarinet on The South Tip

Recorded at TriCone Studios in Berlin, Germany
Engineered by Rowan Smy & Tom Marschal
Additional recording and mixed at Amanda's Old Room in Charlottesville, VA, by Paul Curreri
Mastered at Jimmy Dog Studios in Charlottesville, VA, by Jeff Romano
Front cover by Gibb Slife
Photography by Aaron Farrington
Layout by Oliver Betts

All songs by Paul Curreri © Merdaloy Music

I love Joe, Euan, Rich, Keith and especially Devon. I really can't imagine.

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Track Name: Nothing's Changed On The Dance Floor
She went downtown to see what all the fuss about
She wasn't messing around
She'd looked it up and now she had it down
She saved 25%, laid back snapping of her chewing gum
"I'm the fucking man"
The streetlights bent and gave her some

I saw her next week in the same old chains
I saw her on the dance floor and nothing had changed

He figured why not? I used to know, now I forgot
Come dusk, she cries
And tells him that it's all she wants
So a baby girl comes
His drinking slows and his smoking stops
He says "I can make her quit crying if I circle round the block a lot"

I saw him next week in the same old chains
I saw him on the dance floor and nothing had changed

Last night, we felt so good that we kicked the door
We let our feet drag
To protract the night just a little bit more
We pawed the grass, made love out back just before the sun
And after all that
She-bop, she-bop bop my favourite song

But you see us this week in the same old chains
See us on the dance floor and nothing has changed
Track Name: The Big Shitty
The last time I was in this ditch
I must not've thought I was done with it
Here beside the broken matress
Two bottles of red, two books of matches

The children tap upon the window
Parents ask them not to do so
The children ask "Mommy, is this it?"
Their daddies call me a son of a bitch

The wild thing's come home to roost
To multiply, then to turn it loose

This hole is bigger than you expect
I got a little blue car I drive around it
And still I ain't seen every bit
Though it's pretty hard to keep track of it

A shirtless boy, a heavy mallet
The chicken head, mama, tell me about it

What do you call a hippie's wife?
Mississippi
Where do hipster houseflies socialise?
The Big Shitty
It's plain as plain, I'm doing fine
It's a genuine, certified barrel of monkeys down here

Three times ago, I was in and out
Two times ago, I sorta hung about
The last time took a month and a half
Now I try to keep my mind off that

There's always something up in the attic
Whether or not you go look at it

Yes, the wild things've come home to roost
To multiply, then to turn it loose
Track Name: Juju
Just now home from a fireworks show
They shot it out the vineyard
The finale was louder than it was big
I dug that, alone, up-windward
Now yeah, I'm home, along again
Proud to have gone and done it
If I can make myself dance just a little bit
Today might well be worth it

Juju, I can't touch you
But Juju, I'm alright
Juju, nothing hurting me tonight

On my way back, just south of town
Police car darked the shoulder
"Do you know how fast you were going there son?"
I guessed, but shot way over
"Does this automobile belong to you?"
Said "No, I belong to it"
"Son, you think all this is pretty goddamn funny?"
Said "Not all, just parts of it"

Juju, know I miss you
But Juju, found a light
Juju, nothing hurting me tonight

Ain't no ghosty nickel-and-diming me, yeah
Chiggering my trigger switch, yeah
I will bang you ghosty again
(But tonight I'm resting)
And again I'll smoke cigarettes
Things'll be beautiful but sad
Did your mama teach you to judge me like that?

How many nights have come before
Where I've written just the same
But woke to find my eye swelled shut
And a broken guitar string?
That's true - and it might be true again
But what do you want me to do?
Alone, at home, I just got my dance on
And I might tomorrow too

Juju, long the distance
But Juju, long the time
Juju, nothing hurting me tonight
Track Name: Poor Little Motorbike
Poor little motorbike
You never get where you'd like
The weather's never bullseye
To really take off
Gusts off the big trucks
Merges through the loose stuff
Right back to where you came from
With a little less tread

Tearing through the moonlight
The night owl's drunk night
Who forget you once you're out of sight
Then the stars go down
You're a bonafide blaster
Spirited and registered
A quarter-ton gumption tester
Honest as Mary

Just to be turning it out, out, out
Just to be turning it round, round, round, round

Shot out the bicentennial
Manual, and bellyful
Of moxie so perennial
At least so far
Woe, to hash the rare electric bug
The mother's scowls, ears plugged
The disappearance of the run-amoks
While mechanics moves on

Two crowing bari saxes
Under waves of wild cymbal crashes
Endless and fantastic
Splitting the air in two
Poor little motorcycle
Four-cylinder roman candle
Specialer than a rider can handle
Old Jap Soul

Just to be burning it out, out, out
Just to be turning it round, round, round, round

Poor little motorbike
You never get where you'd like
The weather's never bullseye
To really take off
Gusts off the big trucks
Merges through the loose stuff
Right back to where you came from
With a little less tread
Track Name: The Water Tower (Kill My Teacher)
Last night I went off to climb the water tower
Saying "Something needs doing and I'm gonna"
Wasn't carrying nothing but a bit of how-you-gonna-cook-it
I didn't have any idea
There's James in the heat lightning, shaking
Gay James, I know his cousin
James is drunk and he wants to go hear music and keep drinking
I say no, I gotta kill my teacher

Oh yes, I know that the world
Or the world I have known
Is in need of being blown right open
That the crack with the light shining out of it
Has got to be opened

I'm not saying that the black came quick
It rolled in like a lightboat wake
At first it rolled like it was taking the mick
But then the jabber grew
Days are like a hot stop-action planet
Nights do a slow-mo diet
I go to see a move twice, and I can't understand it
I gotta kill my teacher

Oh yes, I know that the world
Or the world I have known
Is in need of being blown right open
That the crack with the light shining out of it
Has got to be opened

James trailed me towards the water tower
He was mumbling about a drink and this "I got to see"
When the rain came, we didn't walk faster
We moved considerably
I can see the car with the dent and the emblem twisted
At the path to the water tower's edge
I'm really gonna do it, James the rubbernecker
I'ma kill my teacher

Oh yes, I know that the world
Or the world I have known
Is in need of being blown right open
That the crack with the light shining out of it
Has got to be opened

I made out the water tower in the rain and I walked at it
A starter pistol popped from a nearby high school
My teacher sat atop the ladder in the rain
And I started climbing
I said "You said time would come, and it did come
Everywhere I've been, I've never known 'til know"
He said "Suffering is rarely done alone, Paul
And do you think I'll be your last teacher?"

Oh yes, I know that the world
Or the world I have known
Is in need of being blown right open
That the crack with the light shining out of it
Has got to be opened
Track Name: The South Tip
A group had gathered at the south tip because it was Friday
Some carried fruit, and some carried knives
The moon lit the south tip like a disco
And the dance began
Those who could not, complained of the music
They cut fruit and over-drank
They tried not to worry and drank
A family had ashes in a coffee tin
The wind took them off the tip and into the sea

A teenaged boy said "Hello"
She couldn't see who it was
But it didn't matter, because they had not met
"Hello you!" and they laughed
They shared a cigarette with bug in it
She said "I feel like a balloon"
He said "I feel like a big tree
And I hope you get tangled"
An old person found them
He sent them back to the group

The past looked down at the south tip and smiled
The past was the moon
The moon had rarely missed a Friday
The past stretched out like a tall smoker lying down
It knew the end because it saw the beginning
And found the in-betweens peaceful
Down at the south tip, a baby was born
Not at the disco, a nearby house
But it could hear the drum

Some nights are longer than others
But the dawn comes
And still no wisdom, at least not tonight
But even those that wake up on the bank of the south tip
Like the boy and the girl
Saw, instead of were told
She cried when he said he must travel
He tried to wipe her tears
She thanked him, but insisted on using her own hand
Track Name: Hacket
Hacket found it rather heavy what his mother had said
Smack in the middle of dinnertime
"Lousy daddies hardly never sit deliberating it
So should there come a time"
Still that night aimed to talk the back leg off a donkey
And an underground lake gushing his pulmonary cavity
He woke with the weather-swinging the back door wildly
Bursting acetaldehyde

I should tell you, Hacket - born John Justice, John just as his father was
Justice from his mother's side
John became Hacket after quitting every sports team
It was a funny time
Still, Hacket was happy 'til a bug hatched inside him
Its chemical guano set to shorting his penchants
Add to that the booze and life's general break dance
Gets tough to harmonise

Oh Hacket
What the plan is
On this itty-bitty slippery planet
Could the only way out be the only way in?
Just like them?

Hacket had a sense of something sucking on his tethet
Snacking on his anchor line
The purpose of the mooring long-forgotten altogether
But still operating fine
One day it was winter and dusk came quickly
The airport security frisked him foreignly
Hacket aware that he had drifted considerably
No choice but take it in stride

Oh Hacket
What the plan is
On this itty-bitty slippery planet
Could the only way out be the only way in?
Just like them?

Hacket hadn't been home more than a litre or so
When all of his guests arrived
The meeting came to order and the matter at hand
All very civilised
There on the platform with both trains approaching
Thermometer bursting like a sausage of locusts
Hacket at the window with his wallet wide open
Fingering his final dime

Oh Hacket
What the plan is
On this itty-bitty slippery planet
Could the only way out be the only way in?
Just like them?
Track Name: Are You There Anymore
It was late and cool, and I was shirtless on the porch in the streetlamp
Another day done, the sleepyheads eating my wake
My smoke on the breeze was like a hobo hopping onto a new leaf
And I, just as light reached down
Put the tip of my yellow-stained finger on the ground
And set to spinning the blue world round
Like a globetrotting rascal

May the moon the lit the life in others
Have compassion on me
I can hear you in everything if I can hear you in anything
Am I one of the free?

Are you there anymore?

It's less often tha not a married man sits and fishes like this
His wife asleep in her ball in the bed in a dream, unkissed
I was lucky enough to marry a halfling - part ain't, part is
A woman who will sing or she won't for no reason
Talking about her now is making me question my decision
To be out here alone with such an iffy ambition
To balance an egg on a needle

May the sun light us to love each other
Ever passionately
I can see love in everything if I can see it in anything
And do it diligently

Are you there anymore?

The neighbour boy was crying, I opened my head by my ears
I dug past the recent, and fumbled round 'til I found Pete Seeger
I was never fond of his music, but the kids who were are better people
No magic of the evening was lifted
No explorer's lost diary was suddenly unwritten
I simply walked through the dark house to my bed and set to drifting
Toward the next new verse of the song

May the wind that rolls through these opened windows
Carry sounds of the seaside
Barefooted everythings, air-cooled anythings
Over my wife and I

Are you there anymore?
Track Name: Powwow At A Lousy Party
How many here would rather they weren't?
"Yeah, my wife brought me, and in this sorry shirt"
"I'm just steaming on the couch while my house gets work"
"It's like a steam bath out there, I had to drown my thirst"

"Well as long as we are, we best make the most"
"That's easy for you, man, from what so-and-so told me"
"Who? Her there said it? I oughta break her nose"
"Excuse me, do y'all know what time Lucky Seven closes?"

"Anyhow, have either of you fellas been to the Cayman Islands
Because I had a dream about it and I woke up smiling"
"No, but I once slept in a lighthouse in Kaanapali"
"I had a dream one time about Kaanapali"

"So like she said, my kidney is bound for Port-au-Prince
Guess how much I'm gonna get for it?"
"Man, I'd lower your voice before you get turned in"
"Well, you can bet your life you'll never see me again"

"You think that selling your guts is gonna make you feel free?"
"Well, the future ain't what she used to be"
"What if come one day you want that piece back in?"
"Then I'll sell something else and be happy again"

Just then, a comet came and the house burned down
But right when it hit, our hero jumped off the ground
The comet bounced and shot toward Kaanapali
With him holding its tail and saying "Thanks for the party"
Track Name: Who Got Gang
Jack was slender as a perfect function
With a gate so Spanish and over the weather
Just a killer carving, baby
Just a ruthless tempo, baby
Every box ticked, he was a knack mosaic
Quintessential, prime Ionic
Just a constant vogue, baby
Just all around, baby
But Jack was actual, Jack was broken
Bored, given to, undevoted
Still a killer carving, baby
Just a ruthless tempo, baby
We two'd drink in the pinwheel sunset
Getting flexible and broader-minded
Just a constant vogue, baby
Just all around, baby

Who got gang? "We're all behind you"
Anything? "We're all behind you"

One night a scene that I won't forget
He stroked my collar like a pussycat
Just a killer carving, baby
Just a ruthless tempo, baby
Said "Jack, your eyeballs look like TV static"
He said he always looked good in monochromatic
Just a constant vogue, baby
Just all around, baby

Who got gang? "We're all behind you"
Anything? "We're all behind you"

Jack's passing made me leave the country
It was my wife's idea, I was drunk and ugly
Just a killer carving, baby
Just a ruthless tempo, baby
And in time, the blame I choked unfolded
Jack, you were better than the folks could've known they wanted
Just a constant vogue, baby
Just all around, baby

Who got gang? "We're all behind you"
Anything? "We're all behind you"