Shawn Jones and Derek Van Gieson collaborated for years, but not musically. The latter created artwork for the former’s band, local folk-pop favorites the Lovely Sparrows, with his distinctly dark drawings gracing the covers for LPs Bury the Cynics and Shake the Shadow. Marriage at Nevers brings out a different side for both artists.
“At one point, I made a trade with Shawn: some art in exchange for studio time with him,” offers Van Gieson, who lives in Minnesota. “My last band was breaking up and I needed something to distract me. I took six demos down and Shawn and I just cooked putting things together. It was fun and easy, which was beyond refreshing for me.
“Shawn had his hands full with his own projects, but he knew we had something we’d be returning to. And then COVID hit.”
From his homemade Lockhart studio, Jones continued working on the tracks, including bringing in Dana Falconberry and Doris Blade to fill out vocals. Marriage at Nevers’ released its debut last month, pulsing with ominous beats and swirling psych-tinged melodies.
“Well, things have probably gotten a bit darker over the years, and that’s maybe just where my ear has gone,” acknowledges Jones of the heavier tone. “You’ll hear some of that in future Lovely Sparrows tunes, but Marriage is more of a nod to bands both Derek and I grew up listening to: the Cure, the Smiths, Joy Division, XTC. It’s about our love for creating shared worlds that we can draw from and geek out over. Mood wise, it’s spooky and a little dark, but I think the record moves and bounces in a fun way.”
To accompany the album release, the band now premiers a music video for “Phases.” The clip animates Van Gieson’s artwork from his 2015 graphic novel Eel Mansions, offering up something of a trailer for the supernatural noir, an opening to the rabbit hole of his gritty Mill City. It also accentuates the equally hypnotic and melodic pull of the song.
“I think we’re both champing at the bit to get in the studio again together as soon as it’s wise to do so,” says Jones. “Hopefully the record captures the vibe of our previous late-night sessions: whiskey, candles, Twin Peaks detours, and copious coffee breaks.”
Watch “Phases” first here, and find Marriage at Nevers on Bandcamp.
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