Soldiers Of Fortune is a self-proclaimed “ANTI-BAND” comprising members of the kind of New York indie-rock and experimental bands beloved by record store clerks everywhere — dudes from Oneida, Interpol, Endless Boogie, and Man Forever plus Chavez leader/all-star utility man Matt Sweeney. Guests on their album Early Risers include Stephen Malkmus, Cass McCombs, Dan Melchior, and Comets On Fire’s Ethan Miller. So yeah, it’s a big party of underground dudes who like their music damaged by art but rooted in the classics, thoughtful yet visceral, wry but never cute. It’s coming out on Mexican Summer, which seems about right, though if you told me Matador issued it in 1996, I’d believe that too.
Actually, the group dates almost that far back. They loosely formed in 2004 with the goal of never writing songs and simply playing an improvisational concert now and then. Longtime fan Keith Abrahamsson of Mexican Summer has been trying to convince them to release an album for years, which brings us to Early Risers. It’s their second record after 2011’s expertly titled debut 12″ Ball Strenth and some early sessions that never made it into the world for public consumption beyond a few tracks on MySpace. (Remember when every band had a MySpace? That’s how long this whole thing has been going on, albeit in fits and starts.)
So, the music: In keeping with the band’s vast lineage, Soldiers Of Fortune’s sound spans from the balls-out rock ‘n’ roll of lead single “Nails” to the ambling roots-rock of McCombs collaboration “Old Roman Wall.” The latter premieres here today, and it’s a bleary barroom ballad that strikes me as what the Band might have come up with had they hired Lou Reed as their creative director. McCombs’ love of the Grateful Dead shines through, as do all the Yo La Tengo records that surely line the various Soliders’ collections. Listen below.
Correction: The original post erroneously omitted mention of Soldiers Of Fortune’s debut 12″, Ball Strenth.