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Ashley unabashedly name-checks influences.
“You used to create a scene, now you read all about it.”
So goes the opening line of “Gin and Panic,” the second track from Corin Ashley’s “Songs from the Brill Bedroom.”
For someone who has resigned himself, he’s created the record of his career.
The Pills bassist/singer’s first solo foray is chock-full of classic-pop references, from the title’s nod to the collaborative songwriting enclave that put out hit after hit in the 1960s to the George Martin-style strings to the Howard Tate album art. Roy Orbison gets canonized in a gorgeous four-minute love lilt and Harry Nilsson’s “Daddy’s Song” closes the 14-track disc.
‘Not a rip-off’
“Yeah, I was saying I’m going to get a T-shirt that says, ‘It’s not a rip-off, it’s an homage,’” Ashley offers at the mention of all the sonic winks and nudges.
He continues over dinner at the Independent in Inman Square: “In the past I used to blur or obfuscate those influences — to some degree of success, I always seemed to get nailed on them anyway. But with this one, I consider this like Brill Building approach to songwriting. Ya know, like, ‘We need a B-side for Leslie Gore by noon tomorrow. Go!’”
Largely home-recorded, the mood is easy yet ambitious, and slightly imperfect. If the vocal take wasn’t spot on, it didn’t matter — it stayed. “I wanted to keep it really natural,” says Ashley.
The songwriting was a solo endeavor, but old friends act as the band. Former Shods and Pills guitarist Dave Aaronoff is joined by latter-day Pill drummer Matt Burwell.
But the Dirty Ticket threesome won’t be venturing any farther than the proverbial backyard. “Touring” and “signing” are being filed under resignation: “I’m constantly trying to remove ambition from my music. Ambition is killing music.”
He’s laughing but he’s not kidding.
“I don’t want to have to call in any favors or use my ‘so-called’ connections. I think I have a good album and I just want to get it to people who’d like it.”
the album cover below for more information about
songs from the brill bedroom
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© Corin Ashley