Monday, September 7, 2009

BFF: A decade on the road with Tiger Saw

To be perfectly honest, something a reporter should never do, I thought Tiger Saw was just a phase, a patch that Dylan Metrano would eventually work through, probably quickly ... Yeah, yeah, I know, but it made sense at the time. He’d just come off of several years working with Hamlet Idiot, an intense, raucous and proto-punk band that he dismisses now as a paeon to youthful excess and enthusiasm, but was pretty bitching, if not exactly popular or polished, back in the day. The band released a dozen cassettes and a couple of CDs, never really finding its audience, but making a lot of righteous noise. Then Metrano packed his bags for the left coast, the spiritual home for fresh starts. When he came back about a year later, he unveiled Tiger Saw, a project that could not have been more different, leaving behind the furious, confrontational style of Hamlet Idiot for soft, yielding slowcore, for songs that were sweet and melodic, sad and beautiful, almost like lullabies.

It's hard to believe that was ten years ago, a decade in which the Newburyport-based and psychologically centered Tiger Saw has not only persevered, but thrived, releasing seven albums and becoming a road-hardened touring band that, despite its roots, is almost never home. And a decade in which the band evolved, undergoing extensive changes that completely changed its musical direction, from the hushed conversation, boy-girl/call-responses of "How To Be Timeless Tonight," to the joyous, celebratory, everybody-all-together “Sing,” to the abrupt, musical left turn of "Tigers on Fire," which saw the band sporting a horn section and playing dance music — basement soul, if you will. And the personnel? Forget about it. Once you get past the late-middle period, you need a scorecard to keep the players straight — especially when you include the live configurations.

And that's exactly what Metrano has done in "All My Friends Are Right Here With Me: A Decade in the Indie Rock Underground." The book, just published by Burst & Bloom Press, is a blow-by-blow account of the ascent — and transformation — of the band. Part travelogue, studio diary and oral history, "All My Friends," which takes its name from a song from "Sing," is based on a decade of tour diaries and dozens of interviews, with first-person accounts of tours with Kimya Dawson, Castanets, Jason Anderson, Viking Moses and The Hotel Alexi and detailed remembrances by members of Dirty Projectors, White Hinterland, Little Wings, Songs: Ohia and Tarentel, and many others. It also also comes with a CD of Tiger Saw covers by friends and collaborators like Jason Anderson, Cake on Cake, Guy Capecelatro, Moons of Jupiter, Annie Palmer, Picastro, Gregg Porter and Quiet Bears.

Tiger Saw will be touring with South China and The Wailing Wall to support the book. Select shows will feature dramatic readings performed by a collection of home-made puppets. There are no Newburyport dates on the schedule. The closest shows are in Cambridge and Portsmouth. The tour schedule is at The book can be purchased at

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