Jamestown Revival - Night 1!
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format_align_left OverviewDesure's music occupies the space between genres. It's a sound that's every bit as diverse as his native Los Angeles, a town whose anything-goes spirit and melting pot of musical traditions — including alternative rock, West Coast pop, psychedelia, punk, and indie-folk — left a permanent mark on the songwriter. With the Pollen EP, he salutes those wide-ranging influences while also moving beyond them, chasing down a style that's adventurous, lushly Californian, and uniquely his own.Years before recording Pollen's 6 songs with collaborators like Midland's Cameron Duddy, Texas titan Jonathan Tyler, and outlaw country artist Nikki Lane, Josh Desure grew up in the L.A. suburbs. His parents' oversized vinyl collection filled the house with the sounds of the Rolling Stone, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. At school, he bonded with his classmates over a shared appreciation for the harder stuff: MC5, the Misfits, and the New York Dolls. Inspired equally by the classic songwriters of his par- ents' generation and the unchained rockers of the 1970s and '80s, he formed his first band at 14 years old and was soon opening for punk icons like the Weirdos and the Gears."Throughout it all, I always had an acoustic guitar with me," he remembers. "Whether I was in a punk band or a rock & roll band, I was writing songs on the side. That's al- ways been the backbone of my writing and my music."As the years progressed, so did Desure's aesthetic. One minute, he was onstage as the frontman of the doom metal band Black Prism, bashing out Sabbath-worthy riffs while an industrial fog machine shrouded him in haze. The next, he was crisscrossing the country as the tour manager for Midland, the Grammy-nominated country band whose members had known Desure since childhood. Somewhere along the line, he opened for songwriting legends like Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam as a solo act, then released a left-field cover of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" — complete with a gender-bending music video that featured the bearded, barrel-chested Desure in makeup and women's clothing — to ensure no one would mistake him for a country artist.Stocked with songs that are every bit as colorful as the pink letters running across the record's cover, the Pollen EP finds Desure turning a new page. "Petty Pain" is a heart- land pop/rock anthem, driven forward by supersized hooks and a highway-speed groove. "Masochist" is a funky, disco-flavored salute to the hedonistic underbelly of L.A.'s late-night party scene, while "On Me" — a gorgeous duet with Nikki Lane — un- folds like a 21st century update of a Laurel Canyon ballad. Written by a larger-than-life L.A. native whose influences include Fleetwood Mac's harmonies, Andre 3000's innovation, David Bowie's fashion, and Lou Reed's category-defying cool, the Pollen EP is a diverse celebration not only of Desure's songwriting, but also of his ever-evolving, borderless approach to art."When you grow up in L.A., nothing ever seems strange," he says. "Everyone's a freak! Walking down Melrose and going into record shops when I was a kid, I'd see people dressed really wildly, expressing themselves to the fullest. It was beautiful and hectic and exciting. I moved to Hollywood when I was 16, and the area still influences me to this day. It's a city that celebrates individuality and pushes you to explore it all. That’s why I felt the freedom to make this record. Some songs may sound different, but it's because that's how I'm influenced."Pollen is a modern record that takes stock of Desure's past: the childhood memories that still pack a nostalgic punch, the party-hearty indulgence of his early adulthood, the woman he eventually married, and the steps that have brought him to the present. He wrote most of the songs at home on an acoustic guitar, then turned to Midland's Cameron Duddy to help transform them into something more expansive. The two headed to Texas, where they assembled an all-star team of musicians — including fellow singer/songwriter Jonathan Tyler, Texas Gentlemen keyboardist Daniel Creamer, and Midland lead guitarist Luke Cutchen — and booked a week's worth of studio time at the Electric Joint in Austin. Duddy shared production duties with Tyler, and the entire group took an experimental approach to the tracking sessions, using gear like Tyler's 808 drum machine and Creamer's vintage synthesizers to add unique, digital elements to Desure's organic songwriting."I told everyone, 'Bring every pedal you own!'" Desure says. "We sat around and twist- ed knobs for days, looking for the coolest sounds we could find. I'd never used any- thing electronic like an 808 before. It was fun to play around with different stuff — to be as explorative and adventurous as we could."Back in Los Angeles, Desure had written many of the EP's songs during sudden bursts of inspiration. An idea would appear out of nowhere while he was playing acoustic guitar, and he'd chase it down, improvising his way through a stream-of-consciousness melody until it turned into something concrete. Pollen benefited from a similar approach in the recording studio, where songs like "Masochist" were written on the spot. Someone would dial up a hypotonic groove on the drum machine, someone else would ad-lib a bass line, and Desure would begin singing. The results were charged with the collective energy of a band firing on all cylinders, and Desure — who'd never co-written a song before — relished the chance to collaborate.Returning fans who've heard Desure's 2019 EP — a self-titled release inspired by the rock & roll of late-1970s icons like Bob Seger — will hear glimmers of that sound here. Even so, the overall picture has shifted, like a garden that's been tilled and replanted for a new season. That's one of the reasons he named the record Pollen, a title that evokes images of bright color, renewal, and rebirth."With pollen comes change, growth, and beauty," says Desure, who holds a flower on the EP's cover. "It's a thing that's ever-changing. This project is a representation of my own growth, and my ever-changing abilities as an artist. It's the birth of something new."