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Music

Three new Alaska albums - including a quick follow-up from Medium Build

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: November 29
  • Published November 29

From left: Stevi Morton, "Summer Wind"; Medium Build, "roughboy"; and Ryan Bowers and the Brain Trust, "Sweet Calamity" (Courtesy images)

Medium Build has quickly established itself as one of the state’s most prolific and prominent bands.

Alaska music scene veterans James Glaves (guitar/keyboards), James Dommek Jr. (drums) and Chad Reynvaan (bass) provide skillful and imaginative accompaniment to the electric vocals of singer-guitarist Nick Carpenter. And just six months after releasing “softboy,” the band has quickly produced a follow-up.

With a distinct ’80s feel, “roughboy” is richly layered without feeling overproduced and features Carpenter’s haunting lyricism, which can stop the listener cold with its candor. Glaves and Carpenter talked to ADN about the new album in a short email exchange. This interview was edited for length.

ADN: You released an album over the summer. This seems like a super fast follow-up. What was the motivation for moving so quickly to produce another album?

MB: We are extremely fortunate to have the ability and technology to produce and release albums from the ground up without help from any third parties. These days, an artist can record an album with a laptop and within a few days have it available on every streaming service available for a relatively small fee. Plus, we write a lot of songs and it’s super fun to record, so why not?!

ADN: What’s the process like for you, from the writing of a song to developing it and recording?

MB: We are constantly writing and recording new songs. Sometimes the creativity flows and we write an album’s worth of songs in a few days. Sometimes it’s hard going and nothing seems right. But our main objective is always to love what we’re making. Does this song make me dance? Does it make me feel good when I listen to it? Can I lose myself in this song? If yes, then we make sure it all lines up and print it. No need to mess with something too much. We try to limit ourselves. We want to keep the process streamlined and fresh. People are more distracted than ever. We hope to come correct with media that adds value and texture to life.

ADN: How would you describe how the new album, both sonically and lyrically/thematically?

MB: Basically as soon as we came up with the album title “softboy,” the term “roughboy" was immediately brought up and it just kinda stuck as the title for the follow-up. So after that we knew that the two albums should and would live in the same neighborhood aesthetically and sonically speaking. That neighborhood for us is called “pop music.” The cool thing about pop music is there aren’t really any rules anymore, the songs just have to have somewhat of a familiar and melodically pleasing element in them at some point to hopefully attract all different types of music fans. Lyrically speaking, fans of the intensely personal and oftentimes dark nature of “softboy” will feel right at home with “roughboy.” Almost every track on “roughboy” was written about a specific real-life situation that either Nick or myself (James Glaves) lived — some of which include love lost, anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, etc.

Stevi Morton, ‘Summer Wind’

Stevi Morton’s debut album features some of her favorites from jazz and big band music, with compositions from George and Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter. She even dips her toe into the country genre with a tune written by Kris Kristofferson and Danny Timms.

Ryan Bowers and the Brain Trust, ‘Sweet Calamity’

Ryan Bowers is known mostly for playing American roots music in groups like the Rock Bottom Stompers and the Norris Bowers Band. The Fairbanks musician takes advantage of some of that traditional string band instrumentation in “Sweet Calamity,” but the album is much more pop than bluegrass. Bowers was trained at the Berklee College of Music and his background studying music is clear in the arrangements and harmonies.

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