October EP Now Available

Download the EP for free right here.

OCTOBER by Sci-Fi Romance

After a drought between albums, it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to put out a new EP today and release it as a free download. Two weeks ago, I didn’t even have the idea for this project, and I love that it now exists and is out there in the world, learning how to shamble along and getting its own apartment and all that good stuff. I explained the genesis for October in my last post, but the tl:dr version is that I got the completely indefensible idea to write and record songs inspired by the movies I watched this month, and to do it all as quickly as possible, I dug a 20+ year-old four-track cassette recorder out of the closet. Finding cassettes these days is, as you might imagine, a little tough, but the deed has been done.

Here are some details about exactly what’s on this lo-fi concept-EP of…what? Horror folk? Heartfelt monster confessionals? Well, call it whatever you like.

The Fall of the House of Usher, 1960

The film that kicked off the series of Roger Corman/Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe adaptations is, fittingly, I think, also kicking off my tribute to classic horror movies I dive into every October. A very blonde Price plays the tormented Roderick Usher, who suffers under the historic weight of the Usher family’s many sins. He goes to great lengths to make sure that he and his sister are the last of the House of Usher.

Dracula, 1931

Watching Lugosi this time around, I asked myself a question I never had before: Why does Dracula leave Transylvania now, and for England of all places? I felt like he was bored after hundreds of years of relative solitude, and (to quote The Smiths) wanted to see people and wanted to see life. But Dracula’s problem is Dracula, wherever he goes.

Ed Wood, 1994

I couldn’t watch Dracula and not watch Ed Wood. Of the many, many lovely things in this, my favorite of all Tim Burton movies, is that in the end it doesn’t matter how terrible Ed’s movies are, it matters that he made them.

The Body Snatcher, 1945

Boris Karloff’s first appearance on the EP comes courtesy of his astonishingly creepy portrayal of John Gray, who steals bodies for “anatomy,” selling them to a medical professor for use in university classes. But when the cemeteries fall under increased scrutiny, it becomes easier for Gray to make the corpses himself.

The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

It makes me sad that Una O’Connor screeches her way through this film, in which Karloff endows his monster with so much humanity and pathos that in the moment when he first sees The Bride, I want her to love him as much as he wants to be loved. Alas…

The Masque of the Red Death, 1964

Probably the best of the Corman/Poe/Price movies, this movie is endlessly evocative and Price is his at most mustache-twirlingly evil. But watching the film this time, I was struck by Hazel Court’s performance as Juliana, who on paper was no doubt simply a “jealous lover,” but on screen communicated much, much more.

So download the album, enjoy it, roll around in its warm analogueyness. And happy October.


Obsolete Technology Will Demand a Reckoning: The Ghost of John Henry

Our new album, The Ghost of John Henry, is available today. The folk tale about a railroad worker who raced a steam drill has stuck with me since I was a little kid, and so in a lot of ways it feels like I’ve been leading up to this record my whole life. That makes the response we’ve received to it so far — the wonderful reviews, pre-orders, internet radio play — tremendously moving. Thank you to Kurt and Jody for not turning around and running the other way when a crazy man (me) asked them to be in a band so we could make a concept record about a 150-year-old legend.

Why John Henry? This is from the album’s liner notes, and about as good an explanation as I know how to give:

After the Civil War, railroads spread out across the country, built on the backs of immigrants, convicts, and men who left their lives and loves to lay track beyond the horizon. But to the rich men who controlled the rails, their eyes fixed only on balance sheets, these workers were cogs in a machine – easily discarded, easily replaced. Into this world walked John Henry, said to be the strongest man to ever swing a hammer or drive a spike.

On his heels came steam. New steam drills appeared with the inevitability of tomorrow, intended to conquer mountains and make men obsolete. Faced with the loss of his livelihood, John Henry challenged the machine to a race. The details are lost to history, but what remains is the legend of a man who fought a machine and won, though the effort cost him his life. His stand was noble, proud, and futile. As technology continues to press against what it means to be human, we persist in his struggle, and walk with his ghost.

Quick Album Update: The Ghost of John Henry

It’s a very exciting time for me, since the new album will be out on Tuesday and we’ll be playing our CD release show a week from tonight. We’re taking digital pre-orders here and physical CD orders here. It’s hard to quantify how much different this feels than when the first album came out in October, 2010. Metaphorically speaking, I created and released that thing in the dark dead of night. Nobody knew I was making it, and I just sort of flung it out into the world without any plans or expectations. This time around, I’m extremely thankful that I’m not going it alone — that Kurt and Jody are in this boat with me — and that somehow people got a hold of the first album and liked it enough to express interest in this one. So thank you.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you’re excited about the album and have a favorite music blog you read regularly, please do us a huge favor and reach out to them on their Facebook pages or blogs and tell them they need to hear and cover the new Sci-Fi Romance record. If you write to them, they will listen.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the early reviews of the record:

  • Hear, Hear! called the record “honest folk-pop in its rawest glory.”
  • Popa’s Tunes called it “killer music and commentary on man and technology” and is doing a special pre-release stream of the album here, so you can listen to the whole thing.
  • Screaming at the Wall wrote that “If you have any sort of ear for indie-folk and you’re looking for something that stands out, Sci-Fi Romance’s “The Ghost of John Henry” will not disappoint.”
  • Team Hellions called it “the best album of the year you haven’t heard yet.
  • And The Mad Mackerel posted our video for “Broken World,” calling the song, along with our track “Steam Drill Blues” “outstanding.”

Thank you so much to the writers who have given us an early listen and posted about the record. We’re really flattered and humbled by the reviews.

Stay tuned. Next week, the album arrives. Until then, here are a couple of tracks you can download for free if you haven’t yet.