324 E. 13TH STREET #7
Roy Montgomery’s description of ‘324 E. 13TH STREET #7’ is worth reproducing verbatim, as it describes the elusive vibe of the project better than any reviewer ever could:
“Ten singles and two albums. At a certain point during my stay in the apartment on 13th Street I either said it to myself or said it out loud – I can’t recall – but that seemed a realistic target all things considered. Few distractions, few visitors, few appointments. A busy city to break up the endless music looping in my head long after the headphones had been taken off. A micro-studio easily patched together and able to be configured in only one or two variations. Time to pay some dues. Both to the 45 single and the concept album. The small vinyl artefact that fed my musical appetite at key times in my life. No “b” sides if it could be helped. Chasing a theme for as long as it took. Waiting for the real pattern to emerge. The perfect visual ratios of 7” and 12” cover art. Talking with the dead. Replying to the faded parsimony of a young fan and would-be maker of records (me): “Get it down now because this may be as good as it gets,” “Don’t wait for a real label to pay for your studio time,” “Time spent recording should always at least match time spent playing live”. I figured that the universal average for bands and recording artists was one, maybe two, good singles and an OK album then oblivion or, worse, a slow decline through contractual obligations. The only contract I had was with a scattering of friends, mostly American, who were there to deal with the out-pourings, should they arrive. And things had bottled up. Time to un-bottle. Not all at once. A few minutes at a time only for the intense stuff. Handing over bracketed ideas to this or that label as an act of faith. Then watching in awe as others transformed signals into objects. And here, running full circle in the literal sense, 7 goes into 12 many times, with folk new and old keeping the faith. Lucky me.”
The collection is indeed the type of detailed sketchbook that would emerge from a regimented songwriter under the self-imposed isolation and personal deadline described above. The carpentry in the construction is similar to other prolific contemporaries (Bob Pollard and Steve Kilby spring to mind), but each track contains bright light bulb moments that aspiring guitarists or lyricists are sure to bookmark for reference later. If ‘324 E. 13TH STREET #7’ is then a testament to enforced but inspired four-track creativity then it is a success on every level and should continue to be judged as such. New Zealand continues to demonstrate that it produces some of the most innovative musicians of recent history, who retain their integrity at every step.
Seemingly a paean to both the art of songwriting and to the muse, Yellow Electric rerelease ‘324 E. 13TH STREET #7’ on double gatefold vinyl and digital download on April 30 including three extra tracks, new photography and an updated intro by writer Bill Meyer and by Montgomery himself. The vinyl will be available through Boomkat and Norman Records, amongst others.