We’re rolling along with our Michigan Artist Spotlight on Lansing-based Gifts or Creatures by focusing on the band’s sophomore album, Yesteryear Western Darkness. The record is pure, authentic Americana that warmly engages its listeners with thoughtful lyrics and pleasant melodies. Simultaneously, Gifts or Creatures manages to create sounds that are timeless but fresh; each song produces a truly grand sense of nostalgia for a simple, bygone America, but also holds true to the condition of the 21st century human.
The Making of Yesteryear Western Darkness, written by Brandon John Foote
Our latest album, Yesteryear Western Darkness, began with an early version recorded at a friend’s home in Kalamazoo in March 2012. The session ended up being used for pre-production recordings, with the core of the album material being re-worked and/or scrapped. Throughout the following summer, we toured the state and hashed out a large nucleus of the album in a live setting. We entered La Luna Recording & Sound in November of 2012 to track the majority of what would become the final released record. Our dear friend Seth Bernard (of Michigan’s beloved Seth & May) took on the production roll for us. His timeless talents and musical skillset are absolutely responsible for the fully visualized album. Seth played minimal guitar and lap steel throughout the album as well; although he mostly worked with us from the control room as the support and backbone of the project.
Ty Forquer features his stunning vibraphone skills throughout the album. Ty has been a close friend and reliable musical partner over the years using various forms of instrumentation. Ryan Freitas played electric bass and brought his MSU jazz background to the table. Ryan is an incredibly talented young man who recently performed in Lyle Lovett’s large band. Our friend Joel Thiele (formerly of the brilliant Anathallo) played drum kit throughout the majority of Yesteryear Western Darkness. Joel was born to play drums, performing with ease and a ferocious attack. Pedal steel master Drew Howard – aka, “Captain Midnite” – is a Lansing legend who has toured the world over. He’s become a big brother and mentor to us over the years. His pedal steel is the most celestial and exquisite instrument you’ll ever hear. Trevor Hobbs (of Breathe Owl Breathe) is featured on drums and synthesizer. Trevor was a key element and huge encouragement to the formation of Gifts or Creatures back in 2009.
Ian Gorman of La Luna Recording & Sound was the primary recording engineer throughout the tracking process. Ian brought well over a decade of experience to the session and was able to help Seth and I capture the sounds we were chasing. He’s a gem of a man and we’re beyond blessed to work closely with him. We finalized the album by mastering here in East Lansing with sonic guru Glenn Brown. The friendships and lifelong bonds we have built within the Michigan community allowed us to form such an impressive team of musical colleagues. Of late, we’ve had the great honor of having metro Detroit native, DL Rossi join our team on drums. He’s an incredible songwriter and musician in his own right with a beautiful collection of solo material available.
Listen to the album on GorC’s bandcamp page here.