Shawen Acres is the place to be

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Nate Farley was in Guided by Voices, but his methods of writing, recording and releasing music couldn't be much different from those of his famously prolific former band.

Farley's former bandmate Robert Pollard often seems to toss off a couple dozen songs after breakfast and release them by dinnertime. But Dayton rock veteran Farley, who also did stints in the Amps and the Breeders before relocating to Columbus, took the slow and steady approach to releasing music from his own project, Shawen Acres.

"I was a frontman in a lot of bands in Dayton, but after I was in the Amps and Breeders and GBV, I was second banana for a long time," Farley said. "It's taken four years of Shawen Acres being together for me to finally feel comfortable as a frontman again."

Now that he's back in form, Farley and his band - Dave Glenn on guitar, Duane Hart on bass on Josh McGregor on drums - have finally unveiled their debut, The Precious Blood Festival. The record is on sale at Used Kids and Magnolia Thunderpussy and will be available Friday when the band plays a benefit for Haiku hit-and-run victim Rachel Widomski at Skully's Music Diner.

The wait to release an album wasn't all about Farley readjusting to the role of singer-songwriter. It also involved a bit of self-editing, a skill not usually associated with members of Guided by Voices.

Farley had a different record called Life as a Long Night ready for release, but he decided to go back to the drawing board at the last minute and shuffle in some more of the power-pop tunes that anchor The Precious Blood Festival.

"The original album had a lot of weird, kind of obtuse songs - not really stuff you could grab a hold of right away," Farley said. "I figured for the first album you might as well come out with the more rocking stuff. Save the slower stuff for after people get to know the band."

Some of the jettisoned songs could see the light of day on future releases. In the meantime, Shawen Acres presents an album rooted in familiarity. "Prism Lights" kicks Precious Blood off on a high note, sounding like GBV covering Yo La Tengo's "Cherry Chapstick." That track spills into the pleasant "In the Future (We'll Be History)," a song fragment that would do Pollard proud.

"I kind of got that from Bobby," Farley said. "You can put a piece of a song on there and people get the gist of it."

Later, "Just the Good Half" and "Letters From Earth" make sure the record's waning moments are among its catchiest. One 85-second ballad later, The Precious Blood Festival is complete, clocking in at less than 24 minutes. As it turns out, you can be in a beer-swigging rock band from Dayton and still show a little restraint. Who knew?