The Shiz: Meet You in the Morning (2013)

Produced by The Shiz and TJ Barends
Recorded in Bogalusa, LA by Ben Mumphrey for Studio in the Country and Hammond, LA TJ Barends for Sir-Reel Studios.
Copyright: Elysium House Music 2013, ASCAP

“Meet You in the Morning” co-produced by The Shiz and TJ Barends (Bare Sounds Productions at Sir-Reel Studios, Hammond, LA) is an ambitious 70 minute 14 song opus with a wide ebb and flow reminiscent of Tom Petty (one of the band’s most obvious heroes) from his “Wildflower” days. Singles include “Juggernaut,” “Driftin’, ” and “For the People” from Hogan, and “New Jim Crow” and “Sleep Baby, Slumber” from Lewis. But as with any album conceived project, the songs, diverse as they are, belong to each other, and are held together by the quartet’s “electric chamber music” approach and Barends’ roots based sensibilities, yielding a youthful, transparent authenticity to the relatively mature and nuanced collection. Challenging industry and ideology from the BP Oil Spill to the prison industrial complex, the themes are both topical and existential in nature, and rely on their southern/bluesy roots to keep the much of the most weighted material in a context of light touch confrontation. A notable exception to this, however, is the 7 minute tone poem “Boxcar,” a song written by Lewis and Hogan after experiencing an exhibit of the same name at a Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, FL in 2012.

The deluxe edition of the recording, only available for download at theshiz.bandcamp.com, includes a studio outtake of “Broken Wings, ” the only original love song in the band’s repertoire to date. When asked about the glaring the absence love-based themes in their writing, Lewis mentions that so many of the love songs she knows “don’t seem to be about love of the requited variety.” She says sometimes their most political action is “just showing up as themselves” as they’re Uncle Sam had once put it, and since she and Hogan are currently lucky enough to enjoy a relationship that actually works, they are free to use their music to work on other ideas like personal sovereignty and redemption.

The album features a number of worthy collaborations, most notable are the contributions of violinist Andrew Robin and guitarist Owen Scott, III. Owen Scott, a friend and former band mate of the late B52′s founding member Ricky Wilson, is a fellow Athens, GA native who left the city the same year Lewis was born. Lewis recruited Scott after a coincidental meeting in Baton Rouge, LA, just as the band was going into pre-production on the new album. Owen is featured on “New Jim Crow” and “For the People,” along with the decidedly Athens / REM influenced “The Rapture.”


Anybody Anymore

jamie comes home with her face bashed in
her sister looks her over with a mischievous grin
“so you went to get screwed by him again,
you’re so f*ing crazy.”

jessie’s at the bar with her ears still wet
she talks real hard so the hustlers forget
she ain’t even got a driving license yet
she’s still just a baby

doesn’t anybody wanna know what the hell’s goin’ on?
doesn’t anybody ever notice when something’s gone wrong?
doesn’t anybody believe in love anymore?

jenny asked the preacher what the good lord said
his hand went up her skirt said he could show her instead
said if he could have her writhing in his bed
she’d be a believer

jimmy told his daddy that he thought he was gay
his daddy told him that he’d go to hell one day
jimmy said he’d rather choose that price to pay
than be a deceiver

he said doesn’t anybody wanna know what the hell’s goin’ on?
doesn’t anybody ever notice that something’s gone wrong?
doesn’t anybody believe in love anymore?


Boxcar

bending back
over the burden
of crossings and crosses
burning my fortunate eyes
and if i could i surely would
breathe a little lighter
but i’m overcome

terror takes
too many hands to
make me believe what the
looking glass tells me i fear
and if i could i surely would
fight a little harder
but i’m overcome

empty eyes
once filled with crystals and reverie
and love for their fathers
broken backs
under the weight of it all
and if i could i surely would
stand dream a little wider
yeah, if i could i surely would
stand a little taller
but i’m overcome


Grey Girl

Grey girl
Somebody ate your soul
No bite, just swallowed whole
Somebody ate your soul

Grey girl
Hustler sold you a line
That bargain made you blind
Hustler sold you a line

Suck on that empty bottle please until it milks you
I don’t know what to think but time, it’s gonna get you

Grey girl
I think you think you’re hot
Or just something you’re not
Maybe you’re nothing

Grey girl
There’s something up your sleeve
You come and then you leave
There’s something up your sleeve

You take the hits in bits that break you til you’re tender
You get your fix for kicks but one day you’ll surrender
Grey girl


New Jim Crow

new jim crow
where we wanna go?

you know that man jimmy
took that boy to jail
made it so his mama
never make his bail
you know in that jailhouse
ain’t no room to rock
once they shut that door on you
make sure it stay locked

then that old man jimmy
came up in my bed
taxed me twice for lovin’
listen what he said:
“in my righteous nation
one thing you should know
i decide what you deserve
bible tells me so”

now that old man jimmy
came up in my hood
shut down all the factories
for a greater good
letter from the courthouse
trying to take my home
never saw that trickle down
now i’m on my own


Sleep Baby, Slumber

there’s a quiet space inside you that is tender
and its solitude will sink you like a stone
everybody likes to tell you it gets better
’cause they all have tender spaces of their own

and they’d rather do anything but remember
when they knew that space was eating them alive
so they sometimes have to empty out their corners
but that somehow leaves you no place left to hide

so you think maybe with your life
you can buy back your illusions
maybe in your time
you will turn towards what’s to come
and maybe in a dream
you will stumble upon something

that is more than what it seems
more than what it seems

so sleep baby, sweet baby
sleep baby, slumber

i once heard a song that rocked me like a cradle
but its whispers make me shiver in my bones
they remind me of a place i’ll never get to
to a time before i knew i had no home

and i never thought the day would finally find me
when i’d lay before my feet my soldier’s shield
when i’d say before the buzzards all around me
take my flesh, for i have nothing left to wield

so you think maybe with my life
i could buy back my illusions
and maybe in my time
i could turn towards what’s to come
and maybe in a dream
we would stumble upon something
that is more than what it seems
more than what it seems

so sleep baby, sweet baby
sleep baby, slumber


The Rapture

you should know by now
this shit drives me crazy
sinner or saint, it’s all the same to me
i tried to tell you once or twice
in no uncertain terms
long as i live, i intend to breathe

show me what your good book is for
cause i don’t wanna fight anymore
if it were today,
would i see what you’d betray me for
all the little monsters in your head
could just be the lies you’ve been fed
can it really be
you can’t feel me here beside you

look up from the page
and try to hear me say that it’s alright
i’d swallow my rage
if you would hear me say that it’s alright
we’re more than the cage
you put us in, but then again
it doesn’t matter friend, we’ll be alright

i realize your life thus far has been a beast of burden
weight of the fallen on your shoulders
as far as i can see right now is as good a time as any
to spend some time down by the river

show me what your good book is for
cause i don’t wanna fight anymore
if it were today
would i see what you’d betray me for
all the little monsters in your head
could just be the lives you have led
still it doesn’t change,
yes, we are all in this together

look up from the page
and try to hear me say that it’s alright
i’d swallow my rage
if you would hear me say that it’s alright
look up from the page
if you can hear me say that it’s alright
the war that you wage
is gonna end today ’cause it’s alright


Tumble

a bird in the hand ain’t spit to me
you give me one i must need three
enchanted by insanity
my dirty glass is empty

can’t find the dime i used to keep
and now i find i’m losing sleep
but in the morning all i need
is four bucks for my coffee

lost my religion years ago
to a song i used to know
but i don’t need a god to tell me
that the mountain must give way
to the river in its day
even roughest rock can shine

so i tumble, tumble, tumble

i’m lost among the muck of men
so i’m changing up my meds again
i’m nothing if i lose my pain
all the colors look the same

i’ve buried all the evidence
i’m sure i paid my penitence
so now it’s simple common sense
to pass along the blame

lost my religion years ago
to a song i used to know
but i still want god to show me
that the mountain can give way
to the river in its day
even roughest rock can shine

so i tumble, tumble, tumble