VIDEO PREMIERE: JANE CHURCH “STORM RYDER”
Jane Church—named after a Sparks demo from the 60s—is the floppy hat-wearing fluffy-haired ex-New Yorker Matt Stevenson, who blows through bittersweet 60s-style rock songs like a brooding Lou Reed hurricane upending the sandy philosophy books and wine jugs left on Kevin Ayers’ tropical beach, with a Big Star power pop warm front rolling in from the south.
Stevenson’s debut album Calimocho Molotov!, released in January on Greenway, was haunted by a cast of appealing historical and literary figures from Paul Revere to Don Quixote, plus Russian spies, machine gun dreams, overly mothering girlfriends, and a plenty of introverted New York-bred alienation. He left the big city for our sunny shores last December, but that charmingly disaffected NYC swagger was still very much on display at his solo set for Echo Park Rising, where non-traditional spaces from barber shops to pickup trucks become showcases for local talent. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a microphone, Stevenson managed to transform the back room of a Thai restaurant into a sacred space—no easy feat, even if you are really, really into Thai food. He seemed surprised at the hush that overtook the crowd, but their goosebumps weren’t from Thai tea brain freezes.
Despite its desert imagery, the new Jane Church single was actually recorded just before he moved to L.A. “Last fall I found a voice memo I’d made from about a year and a half earlier labeled ‘Motorcycles,’ Stevenson explains. “There weren’t really any words but there was a structure and a melody.” This time, the lyrics practically wrote themselves, and “Storm Ryder” revved into existence. Stevenson and friends recorded the track at Brooklyn’s Mozart Street Studios, along with B-side “Jet Blonde,” but they were shelved in the lead up to his album release earlier this year—until now.
Sounding far sunnier than its title might suggest, the brand new warmly Byrds-ian love song “Storm Ryder” weaves a tale of longing that unravels into the sweetest chorus. With a voice like a purring motorcycle on a road trip straight to Heartache (Population: 1), Stevenson pines, “There’s a girl in another city waiting there for me / Heard her voice on a Mexican radio station late last night / And if I understood a thing about love, I would find her…” The guitars that slide and swoon around him sound more Bakersfield than Brooklyn. Classic country musicians understood that wanting someone is often sweeter than having them.
For the music video, Stevenson frolics blissfully through the beaches, peaks, and mystical stone labyrinths of his newly adopted California wonderland. Nature is what drew him west, he says: “I liked the idea of being close to the desert, the mountains, and the ocean.” Having those magical places just a drive away calms his east coast angst. “My friend Brendan [Lazar] shot the video on his Super 8 camera out in Point Dume,” he explains, adding, “It was really hot that day. That denim jacket was a bad choice.” Already suffering for fashion? It sounds like he’s well on the road to Angeleno assimilation. And in this land of too-perfect weather, we’re excited to hear what new storms he’ll be brewing up next. Don’t miss his free acoustic show tonight—Friday, September 6—at Echo Park’s Stories Bookstore & Cafe, or ride your motorcycle out to Joshua Tree to catch him at La Matadora Gallery on October 15th.