Week in Pop: Feed, The Telescopes, WEEED

Sjimon Gompers

The sonic saints of legendary majesty—Stephen Lawrie & The Telescopes; photographed by Stephen Bland.

Major Murphy

Grand Rapids, MI’s own Major Murphy; press photo courtesy of the band.

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s own Major Murphy have announced a new album arriving in spring of 2018 via Winspear & delivered the tranquility of “Mary” that assuages & calms the senses with some smart styles of composition. Jacob Bullard with Jacki Warren & Brian Voortman are honing in on the qualities that made richly arranged & evocative ballads of the latter twentieth century such radio smashes. The trio majors in creating modern gospels & narratives of observed truths that move in tropes like beat-poet style resurrections to roam down current era roads.

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Major Murphy charters these paths of lives on the road, where “Mary” presents a mystical & deity presence of guidance. The song is almost a music video unto itself, where you imagine Jacob, Jacki & Brian on a big national tour where the same saintly maiden specter of the song’s namesake appears at every gig from town to town & at first freaks the band out before leading them to lights of fortunes, success & a thousand happily afters. Invoking the most quintessential character of the clever modern day American balladeer; Major Murphy contributes a truly time defying hymn that is baptized in the name of the almighty restless highway code & those odd guardian angels that sometimes appear along those long & lonely dark stretches of infinite truck route interstates. Jacob introduced the new single with the following preface:

“Mary” in this song represents innocence and naivety. The singer is in transit, standing on a corner, standing on a line and appeals to Mary to guide them through an unfair and complicated world.

We caught up with Major Murphy’s own Jacob Bullard in the following interview feature:

Give us a glimpse of what’s happening now in Grand Rapids, Michigan; the good, the not so good….and the amazing.

I suppose a good thing is the city is growing, has been for some time, and doesn’t really show signs of slowing at the moment. There seems to be an influx of people moving to town and bringing with them fresh ideas and skills. The flip side of that is rent is going up. Some people are being pushed around or out all together. Despite all the growth there still isn’t a grocery store downtown. I think if the leaders of the city can keep their heads on their shoulders, hopefully the city can channel the growth positively and keep a creative community in tact. When I think about amazing stuff I think about friends and business people who are speaking their minds and taking care of themselves and others. Madcap Coffee Company, Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, Girls Rock GR, Grand
Rapids Community Media Center, Fountain Street Church, Lamp Light, and the kids at the Pyramid Scheme/Meanwhile, to name a few!

How did Major Murphy first materialize?

Brian and I had played in quite a few bands together previous to this one. We had been friends before that. The both of us befriended Jacki through music and spent a lot of time listening to records together. Around about the summer/fall of 2014 we started jamming semi-frequently and talking about starting a band. Somehow it finally happened under the name, Major Murphy. Our first show was September 3rd, 2015.

How the heck do you all tune into those serene & synchronized wavelengths to make such a synergistic sound? Every note & bridge dovetails with a certain elegance.

That is very kind of you! If I tried to figure that out too much I’m afraid I’d break the spell. But I do think the three of us have a pretty special chemistry. Personally, from the outset, I wanted to be in a band that each of the players trusted the other to do them or else, what’s the point?

Tell us about the songs of naivety & innocence that informed the new single “Mary”.

That song, “Mary”, started with more of a “My Sweet Lord” vibe, and over time morphed to where it is now. Ben Lumsdaine, who played the amazing lead guitar on that track, kept mentioning Cass McCombs, although, I am not very familiar myself. Wilco came up a couple times too, with their song, “Impossible Germany”.

What are you all listening to & loving right now?

We’ve been loving that Sam Evian and Chris Cohen collaboration, “I Need You”. Kurt & Courtney’s recent album has been fun. Really like Waxahatchee’s latest album, “Out in the Storm”.

The next big moves & steps for Major Murphy?

We are going to be traveling out to NYC to play at Baby’s All Right on November 30th. Also, a house show in Philly on December 1st. Really excited about both of those shows. Hopefully a bit of touring in the spring. We also are hard at work on a full length album.

Catch Major Murphy via the following tour dates:

30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right

01 – Philadelphia, PA @ Nacho House
16 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme

Major Murphy’s debut album will be available TBD in 2018 via Winspear.

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