Monday, May 4, 2009



There's a ton going on at Riot Act Media this week, and I'll be telling you all about it--starting with Lovitt Records artist Quieting Syrup. They're a tremendously brand new addition to the Riot Act roster, even though I've known Chicago-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Stephen Howard for almost (Jesus!) a decade. This--this record--is finally happening now, after an entire musical career of Howard cutting his teeth as a team player. Over the years, he's used his considerable talents playing bass with indie darlings Denali and Capitol Records "droppies" Ambulette, and has played baritone guitar as a member of the self-proclaimed slowest band in Chicago, Pinebender. His full-time job is actually playing in a blues band called Mississippi Heat that travels the world, and recently toured Africa, which is bonkers. But I digress.

Howard might not be as fitting to the sideman role as he has led himself and others to believe; that's just how his career has developed. This record, Songs About A Sick Boy (you should have it now, if you can't find it in your pile, let me know) is INTENSELY personal in a real, heavy, harrowingly beautiful kind of way--not in an "I'm a songwriter who is whining about my breakup" kind of way. Howard, who has been a super central figure in the Chicago music community for over a decade and is affectionately known by most as "The Kid", has battled through major health issues pretty much his whole life. A total of 12 songs written over a period of 12 years, this album focuses almost exclusively on his health battles and subsequent emotional fallout following the ebb-and-flow cycles of affection, addiction and ailment. It's been written and recorded during Howard's continued recovery  and struggle with his various illnesses; songs here were often written from Howard's hospital bed but reflectively sung from his thrift store couch.

He says about it: "Some of these songs were written at a point in my life when things were really grim, when I was 15 and drowning in drama or 25 and going though surgeries. "My body was really failing me and I had so much time to recoup that music was an escape and a way to translate my anxieties. Now looking back, it becomes a marker for how far I've come."

His hopeful voice is one of defiance and faith. The songs offer an innocence and buoyancy, filled with the heartbroken confidence of a man who has just let go, sweetly singing himself to sleep in order to face the day again tomorrow. Stephen Howard is a bro, and he is brave, and he has made a great record, and I would love it if you could give the songs a listen and consider said record for review, or Quieting Syrup for a feature, or any kind of coverage you might see fit to run.

Please let me know if there's anything that I can get for you re: this release (like an interview or a digital download), and I'll get on it.

1 comment:

Marsel Sucks said...

a download hosted on mediafire please!