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Putting out in a Pandemic:

Ameriglow’s ‘Slavic Tongue, American Film’

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Ameriglow video shoot with Wil Davis in the Chapman Garage June 3, 2014.

Ameriglow shines anew with Slavic Tongue, American Film, out now via Bandcamp. 

Whopping and rambling at 20 tracks, the album features 12 original songs, with an additional eight variations. The whimsy of choice and change shouldn’t surprise fans of Jacob Darden, the wanderluster fronting his ever-evolving roster of anti-Americana indie rock. 

The group itself, a “culmination of many lives,” sees Darden these days paired with fellow former Greensborian, Zack Koontz. Both of whom have spent the past few years roaming their own highways before settling in Asheville and reigniting Ameriglow.

Darden described his Greensboro life as “once upon a time,” a blurred fairytale his time spent in the Triad may have been, its mark on the record remains present, interwoven with the experiences and impact of leaving it behind while finding bedrock in between.

“Deep Ellum in Dallas was calling my name,” Darden said about leaving for Texas, where he made friends and experiences working for honky-tonks and festivals, all the while continuing to “hone-in on the Glow.” Eventually, he headed back to the North Carolina mountains and drizzled down the hills to finish Slavic Tongue, American Film at Legitimate Business in 2019, recording the latter half of what he started at Rextone Studios in Dallas years ago. 

“Kris Hilbert [from Legitimate Business] has always been there for me and believed in me throughout the years,” Darden explained. “He’s more than just an engineer; he’s a friend.“ 

Other Greensboro friends on the record include Owen Burd (from Heralding and Irata) and former Ameriglower, Elizabeth Grubbs, who lent backing vocals alongside her sibling (and Vaugn Aed bandmate), Rook. 

Otherwise waning in members, the once-sprawling tribe of “glowers” has been stripped to a three-piece. “Not as much trickles through the cracks or gets altered beyond comprehension,” Darden said of the slim-down. The result is less anxious, with focused delivery. “It forces you to become a better, more open-minded musician,” Koontz added of the technical challenges in fewer numbers. 

“Being sober, growing the fuck up, and finding your time is running out will alert your attention to the details,” Darden said about growing more deliberate. “Everything is about intention, Koontz echoed. “We’re intent on doing things the right way with full commitment.” 

Focused intentions are clear, though Darden’s swampy, spaciness still resonates.

“1970’s solid-state Peavey rigs all the way, snap into a slim jim,” Darden said. The result helps Slavic Tongue, American Film feel at home amongst the Amerglow catalog, nestling in between bands such as Porches and Big Thief. 

“I definitely feel this release is as proper as we could get doing everything DIY, given the current state of affairs,” Koontz said of putting out a record during a pandemic.

 Personal touches include messages on risograph postcards handwritten and sanitized before going out with all purchases. 

Also, as a result of coronavirus, Ameriglow is promoting the #SaveOurStages initiative and donating proceeds from sales to COVID-19 relief efforts.

 “Why not try to help enrich the nutritional diets of those less fortunate?” Darden noted. The notion continues with their next show being a livestream via Holy Crap Records for the “Musicians for Overdose Prevention” fundraiser series on June 14. 

It’ll be the second stream from the group, who doesn’t see touring likely in 2020. 

“We planned the release in October, there wasn’t a reason to wait any longer,” Darden said of keeping the date. “We’ll probably have a new record by the time we are able to play live, so when that happens, it’ll be double trouble, ay oh!” 

For Koontz, the album acts to complement both the dark times and necessary bits of brightness to be cherished. 

“It was a decision we made when we realized this pandemic is going to stick around too long for us to postpone any further,” he noted. “Sure, folks can’t come out to your album release show, but many people are listening to more music.” 

Darden likewise looks to push through for the listeners. “I think anyone who digs-in enough, will find a wide variety of concepts, characters, and places, but it definitely falls under the umbrella of the state of things we live in currently,” he said. “There’s glue to it all.”

A glue that remains flexible, but firmly grounded. The second single, “Be Kind to Strangers,” rings sweetly appropriate. “My mom wrote a song without knowing it,” Darden said of the track. “It’s all just her words paraphrased, comments she would make to me and my brothers growing up,” he added with maternal adoration. For his father, Darden devotes the song “Henry,” an instrumental tune in finger-picking style.  

“There is a good bit present,” said Darden of familial themes in the record. “Not forgetting who you are and where you started is very important to me,” he added. “I lost that sense for years, or rather it was robbed from me. And it’s nice to get a piece of that dignity back.”

Slavic Tongue, American Film, a new record from Ameriglow, is out now via Bandcamp.

Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show on hiatus due to COVID-19.

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