“If love had a sound, this would be it.” – Willamette Week on Super XX Man. Marking a dozen volumes, Scott Garred’s latest to be issued by Portland’s Tender Loving Empire label in October.
After 13 years writing, recording, and producing, Scott Garred aka Super XX Man, has cultivated a mildly edgy modern rock sound in the new release Volume XII: There’ll Be Diamonds. Previous releases have garnered acclaim from the likes of Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered (“If we’re going to choose ten songs every week, let it be Super XX Man”) and Amy McCullough, music editor of Willamette Week (“If love had a sound, this would be it”).
Although there’s plenty of the familiar Super XX Man-style of music on his latest album, what will no doubt surprise many long time fans are the moody, foreboding tracks that lie at the heart of the album. Songs like “Medication” (MP3), “Little Leaf” and “Crazy People” help to comprise, as Garred says, “my most sonically ambitious album to date.”
Songs are marked by washes of feedback, dark atmospherics and pointillist lyrics that chronicle the lives of the people Garred works with at the Oregon State Hospital, the oldest psychiatric institution in his home state.
It’s a pronounced shift in focus for Garred who has used the other volumes in his ever-growing discography to sing about friends and family, love and loss. Garred is as much a storyteller on this album as he is an empathizer reiterating how people cope with life at the State Hospital. On Volume XII, Garred sings about a woman who plays guitar until her fingers bleed, a man so lonely he only wants to go to parties and meet girls, and the ‘guilty except for insanity’ person strolling down a corridor wearing his new state-issued sweats. The album’s closer, “Cautious Like A Panther,” has this same person strutting his stuff down any trendy thoroughfare in Portland.
Scott Garred started off his career as Super XX Man (pronounced “super double ex man”) in the mid-’90s while still a member of the Austin, TX indie pop trio Silver Scooter, putting out a pair of self-released cassettes. Garred has since relocated to Portland, OR, continuing a steady stream of releases that have moved from home recorded four-track material to full fledged studio productions. Along the way, he has also turned Super XX Man into a bona fide band, that these days features his wife Michelle Garred on accordion, singer Ali Wesley, Kelly Dachtler and Josh Woods (who trade off guitar and bass duties) and drummer Bob Ham. The band will be on tour this Fall in support of the new album.
Super XX Man has been through many changes since the beginning but none as dramatic and exciting as what can be heard on Volume XII: There’ll Be Diamonds. It is a difference that both long-time fans and new listeners will surely welcome with open arms, sharing a long embrace with Garred’s musical vision.
Super XX Man Discography
Volume I CASS (Self-Released, 1995)
Volume II CASS (Self-Released, 1996)
Volume III 7-inch EP (Peek-A-Boo Records, 1997)
Volume I & II CD (Self-Released, 1999)
Volume IV CD (Peek-A-Boo Records, 2000)
Home CD (Post Parlo, 2000)
Volume V CD (Post Parlo, 2001)
Volume VI: Collecting Rocks CD (Lelp Recordings, 2003)
Volume VII: My Usual Way CD (Lelp Recordings, 2004)
Volume IX CD EP (Self-Released, 2005)
Volume VIII: It’s a Super XX Man Pizza CD (Self-Released, 2005)
Volume X CD (Hush Records, 2006)
Volume XI: A Better Place CD (Hush Records, 2006)
Volume XII: There’ll Be Diamonds CD (Tender Loving Empire, 2006)
Volume XII: There’ll Be Diamonds Tracklisting:
Release Date: October 21st, 2008
01. Medication (MP3)
02. Psychotic Break
03. Crazy People
04. You Say
05. There’ll be Diamonds
06. Big Balloon
08. Little Leaf
09. What Lies Beneath
10. 5A Problem
11. It’s Now
12. Downtown Chapel
13. Cautious Like a Panther