In 2010, we revisited the Seaside Lounge to record basic tracks with Josh Clark, returned to Chessie Studios for a few months to dub and color, then came back to Seaside to mix with Josh. After the bacchanal that was Opus Mixtum, we reverted to Antietam lean and mean to put out a set of ROCK SONGS.
”Things You Can’t Explain" (live Bell House, Brooklyn, 5/10/14)
Click to see enlargements
Numbered Days: View video
Things You Can’t Explain (Union Hall, 11-5-2010): View video
Something’s Gonna Give (Union Hall, 11-5-2010): View video
Clarion (AKA So Far) View video
Satisfied (Union Hall, 11-5-2010): View video
TK also appeared in a piece on Studio 360 (PRI radio network) called American Icons: Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner, doing an interview along with Vernon Reid, recording a version of the SSB of her own, and making a video to accompany it.
An interview with Jason Gross in Perfect Sound Forever reveals the TK mindset of the time:
PSF: How do you keep motivated to continue your musical career?
TK: I want to prove that Rock (since my generation signed on at both our and its birth, practically) is not only for being 15 or 20 or even 30 anymore. I hope that when you hear us we tacitly enter a Zone together where we can mess with the day to day, transcend or reshape it, praise or dissect it, and turn the thing that weighs us down on its ear, even if the agreement only lasts for 3 minutes to 1 hour. I want everybody who leaves one of our shows to feel happy, supercharged and like anything is possible.…to GET to do this, the bargain demands that the white noise of how many people hear us, how much we get written about, how much we sell, who didn't sign us, who got famous that we know, what bands were dismissive of us, get TUNED OUT as much as humanly possible.
…How do I keep doing this? The other day we had our first rehearsal since putting an exclamation point on the release of Tenth Life with a trip out to Chicago to play and to open my art show. I love that first day of school feeling. Blank tablets. No gigs to practice for, no songs to bring to the finish line, no record to mix for the first time in almost a year. Open season. We hung out at the clubhouse for a long, long while, chewing the fat, then finally sat down and jammed two new songs. Days later, walking down the street in mental comfy chair mode, I was struggling (in a Sunday crossword kind of way) with a new transition I was planning for one of the jams. I was unsure of the 1-2 or the 1-2-3 of it. Paces away, a semi-tractor trailer (in my neighborhood rather than I-95!) jackknifed on its way uptown from the Crosstown somewhat suddenly and disruptively, cutting off a 60-something gentleman in the crosswalk. T-shirted with grey-splattered hair, he was impatient and vexed, then, taking a deep breath, he Southern-drawled, "Alllll-rightt son. Make it work..." at the same moment the sonic rebus was solved. Bing-bam. Perfection. I cannot imagine ever being ready to give those types of process moments voluntarily.
What they said:
6. Antietam, Tenth Life (Carrot Top)
As the leader of this undefeated New York trio, singer and guitarist Tara Key has never pulled her punches, but never have they landed so fiercely, and with such grace, as they do here, six songs in. “Clarion” is an instrumental, a melody building on its own lyricism, all sunsets and sunrises, until it fades into “Better Man,” where it reveals itself as a fanfare, because this is the song—relentless, confident, triumphant, every swagger earned and paid for a hundred times over—you didn’t know you were waiting for.
Fresh off the sprawling sounds of Opus Mixtum, Antietam seems re-focused on how to deliver a tightly constructed rock record. This 38 minute gem provides a blueprint for today's rock youngsters to follow. While not properly appreciated during their first run of recordings, Antietam deserves to finally get the wider notice that eluded them years ago. Few bands have the goods they do.
We here at Swampland understand the value of experience. Maybe the mainstream music world is obsessed with youth, but only veteran rockers with some miles on the tires can deliver this level of achievement.
Some bands keep such low profile that it’s easy to forget they’re still out there making good music. Kentucky-bred/New York-based Antietam is one example – the trio doesn’t tour all that often and its releases tend to be softballed into the marketplace. That’s a shame, frankly, as there are few rock groups as dependable as Antietam. Unsurprisingly, Tenth Life, its ninth LP, offers ten tracks of good old-fashioned guitar rock – crunchy, loud and tuneful…The argument could no doubt be made that Antietam isn’t doing here anything it hasn’t done many times over, but screw that notion – by virtue of the band doing what it does best, Tenth Life is extremely satisfying.
Two of your trio’s members have recently slipped past 50. The other one’s over 40 and has a toddler. Your band’s been around 26 years, and its modest sales seem inexorably linked to the inverse of your records’ critical kudos. Your audiences, while never exactly robust, are getting older and smaller. You tour less in an age when touring matters more. Each new face on the hip-new-thing carousel is a reminder that rock & roll is supposed to be the domain of the young.
Most bands with less longevity have bowed out quietly and turned to other pursuits when the signs all point in this direction. So what do you, Antietam, do? You defy common wisdom like you’ve always done. You release the aptly titled Tenth Life, one of the most ferocious and feral blasts of punk-inspired guitar rock in your esteemed catalog. And with it you prove yet again that great music doesn’t give a fuck how old the people making it are.