New York-based singer-songwriter Sam Sodomsky could rival Neil Young when it comes to producing prolific and hard-working records. Under the name The Bird Calls, Sodomsky recorded a staggering 30 albums in his music career and released his self. That’s in addition to his day job as an associate editor of the music website Pitchfork.
“I was always making music,” he explains of his amazing productivity. “I did it all on my laptop. At the time, I was really into working as fast as I could and making as much stuff as I could. Lots of albums that spanned maybe a week or two of writing and recording.” Yes, maybe we’re in the one album a year zone right now, but we’re working a little more carefully, and at the same time, we’ve got three records out in 2021. So what is this year? No one knows what will bring
Gorgeous and folky addition to The Bird Calls’ growing discography My Life in Hollywood, was released in December. The record was Sodomsky’s previous DIY in that it was made in his studio for the first time and featured guest musicians such as bassist Charlie his Kaplan and keyboardist Winston his Cook his Wilson. It stands out from his recordings. The expansive, intimate sound of Sodomsky’s warm, eloquent vocals represents a step forward from the 2021s. tarotthe first release of The Bird Calls on the indie label Ruination Records.
He describes his previous method of producing music as using Garageband and Microsoft Word on his computer. “I write songs with a guitar on my lap, and when I’m done writing it, I record it and the song is done, and then I work on the next song. That’s how I made all my records.” tarot had put out two records that year and had a few more songs and a lot of free time.I really got into it and wrote what I felt was the best song I’ve ever written. [for Tarot]one after another
Sodomsky began work on a new album in early 2022, but has since decided to shelve it. Ski had planned to re-record some old Birdcall songs as studio versions for retrospective releases. I was there,” he recalls.one of the songs in my head [when I woke up]I sat down and finished writing it. I could tell Ian was really excited when I brought it in the following week. It was beginner’s luck that everything we added sounded better, more exciting, and different. Let’s write more songs that we can build on,’ and unlocked all of this. “
acoustically, My Life in Hollywood The album immediately conjures up a number of references: long lost 60’s hippie cult records, 70’s Laurel Canyon bards and Elliott Smith (while Sodomsky was recording the album). Among the artists that were on the radar in 2012 were Bruce Springsteen, Pat Metheny, Aztec Camera, Mia Doi Todd, and John Denver); evokes feelings of This is evident in songs like “Apology Rag,” “Better Investments,” and “Auditioning for the Part.” He says the new album’s songs (some of which were used from previously scrapped projects) were written within a very short period of time, and that’s why they connect with him.
“When I wrote ‘My Life in Hollywood,’ that was what unlocked the tone I wanted to use. I think that song is a little funny, a little sad. I like to end with an invitation. It’s all in the effort to write well about the intimacy between people and relationships, and I think most songs are written about that.”
Some of the lyrics of “My Life in Hollywood” reference other songs, such as “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ by Terry Jacks. “Every Picture Tells a Story” by Rod Stewart. “I like writing songs with challenges,” says Sodomsky. Even if you sing about rivers and lakes, you can’t pretend to be the first songwriter to say it. He wants to challenge himself with songs that have conversations with other songs. Also, I’m a critic, so I’m used to having conversations with art. I wrote “My Life in Hollywood” as a song about selling out. So it was only natural to play with the hippie language. “
Sodomsky considers the track “Fragments” from the new record featuring jazz guitar by Katie Battistoni to be a lyrical breakthrough for him..To me, the song is kind of about how loneliness changes as you get older. And finally, it ends with the thought, “I know what I’m listening to.” This was something I used to think about. Like the line in “Still Life” that says, “I want to open up and see the broken pieces.” That’s the intimacy I wanted to write about. ‘New Harbor View’ is like when you and your partner move to a new location and both get a land arrangement. It’s not something you try to do together. Something we end up learning together and always sharing.
“‘Fragment’ illustrates it most elaborately with different scenes and settings,” he continues. “When I wrote this song, I was thinking about ‘I Want You’ by Bob Dylan. [The demo version of “Fragments” is] I really envy you. But when we played in the studio, it was more loungey and relaxed. I’m really proud of that song. If I had recorded it alone in my apartment as a demo, it would have been something completely different. “
A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Sodomsky has been obsessed with music since childhood. He developed his guitar playing throughout his adolescence and later joined several rock bands. “I was really excited to make something weirder and quieter,” he says. “I think he started recording as The Bird Calls in 2005, when he was 12 or he was 13. It was just a recording project. I also used a lot of effects.”
Sodomsky moved to New York City in 2014 to study at Columbia University’s Non-Fiction MFA Program. It was also in the Big Apple that he found friends who were musicians and filed bills with them. Around this time, he began writing for his Pitchfork, reviewing numerous albums by artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Genesis, King Crimson, Phoebe Bridgers, and Bob Dylan. . For him, being his music critic influences his own songwriting.
“I think I have a very underlying belief that you don’t give a lot of magic to the art of songwriting. is fun because it’s about getting ideas into shape and it’s exciting to move on to the next song. That’s what I love about being a critic, it’s listening to a record and finding your way through it, trying to put into words why it feels good to hear and why it resonates. is to try to
“Making art is another way of doing it. It’s saying, ‘This is a song that doesn’t exist in the world that I want to hear.'” Or, “Why hasn’t anyone written a song that discusses this really specific feeling that I have?” I feel like I’m trying to elucidate and put into words what people like me are feeling. That’s why it’s exciting for me to review the album. That’s why writing songs is exciting. It’s all part of the same project. “
Given his extensive recording output and hard-working approach to music production, Sodomsky already has a hunch about what the next Bird Calls album will look like. “Right now, what I’m thinking about for the next record is to have someone do a collaborative work in the role of producer, but I also want to give someone more creative control over the project. I want to do something where I’m a songwriter and a performer and have a producer who has a vision for the sound, even if it’s not related to my old records. I want to bring back the sound that wasn’t there, and it surprises me. My Life in Hollywood Also surprised me how it sounds. Now that I’ve done that, I’m excited to do something that feels completely different. “
bird chirping My Life in Hollywood Released on Ruination Records and available on Bandcamp and other digital music platforms.
(*Full disclosure: I used to work at Pitchfork)