Fri, Dec 15

The Bobby Lees

Grace McKagan, Escape Artist Lovers,

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Iggy Pop, Blondie, Henry Rollins…just a few of the Punk icons who have shown support for Woodstock, NY based band THE BOBBY LEES.

Their new album BELLEVUE was released on October 7th 2022 on Ipecac Recordings (The Melvins, Mr. Bungle, Faith No More) and was produced by multi-grammy winning producer and mixer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Beyonce)

Their last album SKIN SUIT was produced by underground punk-legend Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion and was released via Alive Naturalsound Records in 2020. Henry Rollins said “The Bobby Lees Skin Suit album is wild and different. I dug it immediately. Dangerous music is good for you”.


Grace McKagan

Grace Mckagan arrives with wondrously dark and gorgeous synth- pop, swirling in punk playfulness and danger. She’s a wall of sound, behind bare naked confessionals, infused with biting social satire and calls to self-empowerment.

“Think of some unholy combination of the Kills, Peaches, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Nine Inch Nails, and you’ve got Grace.” (Vogue Magazine)


Escape Artist Lovers

Escape Artist Lovers are a duo who, while perhaps unconcerned with what they wear to the
mall (and if they attended college it was probably, like, Antioch or something), do play an honest
(and bittersweet) rock music. And it’s clever. And their hair is messy. Rakish even. And, yes,
despite being from California, they also do sound like they have a fair amount of UK bands in
their respective record collections.

Rain Phoenix and Kirk Hellie have known each other for over a decade, but only started
collaborating as Escape Artist Lovers in 2020, when Big Pharma, MainStream Media, and the
lizard people fooled approximately 3 million people into thinking that they were dead, resulting in
the NWO: American Chapter mandating what has come to be known as The Great
Inconvenience. Point being, unless you were lucky enough to work for Amazon or in public
health/education, there wasn’t much to do. And the forming of anything larger than a power trio
was frowned upon. So Hellie and Phoenix, being patriots, formed a rock duo.

Presumably reading the somber room, and allowing for the existence of hope, they made a rock
duo that sounds like a white gospel group covering Moe Tucker (or Lou at his
naive-sweet-toothiest) from orbit around the sun.

Tone of bio intro aside, both Hellie and Phoenix have a background in counterculture that skews
earnest. Since the 1990s, Kirk— has been a sideman for the likes of Steve Jones and Glenn
Branca, collaborated with various artists including Atticus Ross/Jehnny Beth/Mogwai, and has
fronted his own bands (a couple of which were dropped by some of the finest major labels of the
time)—has balanced a love of C86 sun-dappled melancholy with thoughtful experimentation. As
for Rain, she’s been the picture of positive actualization since she was a kid; growing up awash
in the arts starting out with her brother River in Aleka’s Attic, she collaborated toured or worked
with artists ranging from Michael Stipe (and REM), Gus Van Sant, to the much underrated
Alternative Tentacles band, The Causey Way, then went on to front her own bands before
making her first solo record ‘River’, produced and co-written by Hellie.

With Escape Artist Lovers, Hellie and Phoenix have taken their extensive record collections
and filtered those timeless songs through lifetimes of hard knock optimism and an unflagging
belief in the power of an insinuating chorus to transform the soul.

On a song like “High From the Hurt,” where the musicians’ start together and stay
together—with Phoenix’s high delicate chime intertwining with Hellie’s cooly romantic
restraint—as the song goes from a loping, Valley/Country piano ballad to a wearily psychedelic
freakout, it hardly matters who built the vehicle or who is the co-pilot. The destination is what
matters. “Turn on You” starts off haunted by the ghost of Concrete Blonde’s “Tomorrow Wendy,”
before ending up on whatever astral plane Byrds go to when they die. Conversely, on a track
like “Hey Motherfucker,” what matters is where the song lives; a creche, with Darklands (and
maybe that one song with the strings, about being friends with fish, off Nevermind), playing as a
lullabye in the background.

Escape Artist Lovers’ reverence for their art damaged heroes might be easy to take for
granted. Not everybody opened for Sonic Youth on their 18th birthday (I don’t have the exact
numbers in front of me, but it’s a short list) and not everybody has been a much sought out
sideman with the not exactly uncompetitive Los Angeles music scene. But for the two artists in
question, their roots are their roots are their roots, and it would be rude to deny it and, listening
to their new songs, impossible. Even divorced from the collaborations and inspirations that lives
spent laboring in bohemia has afforded them, the duo take on the music of strangers (Jesus and
Mary Chain, Dream Academy, “No New Tale To Tell” era Love & Rockets, the
Beatles/VU/Ramones holy trinity, Crocodiles, Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey) and treat them as family.
The result is less a recreation of ‘70s Laurel Canyon, ‘80s Paisley Underground, ’90s alt
songcraft and sonic exploration, than a continuation. Hellie and Phoenix aren’t operating in the
shadow of history, they’re basking in its sunlight.