Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event, on set at last month's

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event, on set at last month’s “California” Bombastic video shoot at the L.A. River.

By Glen

2015 has been the year of The Airborne Toxic Surprise, with TATE having sprung both an album and a tour on us with little-to-no notice. This week continued that theme in a big way.

Surprise #1: Songs of God and Whiskey Wide Release

In the two months since The Airborne Toxic Event released Songs of God and Whiskey exclusively through their website as part of a package with Dope Machines, they have been inundated with requests to make the acoustic album available through other avenues. There had been no official response – not until late Monday night that is, when the band announced without warning that the record was now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital music services.

As happened with Dope Machines, parts of mainland Europe actually got their hands on it as early as Friday, when the album appeared first on Spotify and then on iTunes. And unfortunately, as also happened with Dope Machines, the UK is last to the party, as SOGAW has yet to be released there, with no word yet as to when it will be.

For this expanded release, Songs of God and Whiskey has been brought under the Epic Records label. This has caused many to wonder whether a cd and/or vinyl version is soon to follow. Again, there has been no announcement that anything else is forthcoming. The website Noise11 listed this week’s release as being available both in digital and cd format, but that was evidently incorrect. With Epic involved, one would think there’s nothing standing in the way of a physical release, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time; we’ll have to wait and see.

For an album release that received ZERO advance publicity, it came out of the gates strong, reaching #10 on iTunes’ Alternative Albums chart in the first 24 hours, #9 on Amazon’s alternative downloads list and #53 among all Amazon albums. However, after an initial rush, it quickly started to slip – not surprising given that it is still receiving no promotion apart from the occasional tweet from the band.

The fact that the album is currently receiving no radio airplay won’t help sales either. To that end, we’re encouraging fans of The Airborne Toxic Event to hit up their local alternative stations and ask them to play “Strangers” – a song selected on the basis of a snap poll we conducted with fans on Facebook and Twitter, and after eliminating all the songs with problematic language that might keep them from being played.

By all accounts, the band has been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest in Songs of God and Whiskey, which was intended as a gift to the fans. To that end, it could be that they’re just not particularly fussed about how it performs commercially. Regardless, it’s very nice to see this fantastic album being made available to the masses.

Surprise #2: “California” Bombastic

Mere hours after Songs of God and Whiskey hit store shelves, a second surprise dropped: a new Bombastic video for “California,” a crisp rendition that is a little spunkier than the SOGAW version and far folksier than the poppy Dope Machines take on it.

Well… I suppose it wasn’t a complete surprise, since the band had revealed that more acoustic videos were forthcoming, and we knew they had been filming last month. Still, it arrived without warning, providing a delightfully unexpected start to Tuesday morning.

Seeing as though Mikel recently mentioned that the band had half a dozen video shoots scheduled, be on the lookout for more of these “surprises” to come in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

In Review

The official release of Songs of God and Whiskey (do we call this the official release?) spawned a review by Sauk Valley’s Jeff Rogers, who wasn’t overly enthusiastic in his earlier review of Dope Machines. He’s much more bullish on the latest effort. “‘Songs of God and Whiskey’ is very different from, and superior to, ‘Dope Machines,’ a record of pop songs with an electronic emphasis. By contrast, ‘Songs’ is mostly acoustic and stripped down. It’s also more fun.”

Meanwhile, EQ Review provided some positive coverage of Airborne’s visit to Leeds earlier this month: “Something that emanates from the band is a disbelief they are even able to do what they are doing. They have a refreshing genuity about them. Mikel Jollet has a manic, self-depreciating stage presence, and from the get-go is strutting to and fro on stage, legs occasionally flying out at weird angles. He launches a few play kicks at his guitarist. Jollet has some great banter with the crowd as well, and his shit-eating grin beams out of stage ensuring all that he is absolutely thrilled to be here.”

Bumbershoot

The Airborne Toxic Event has been conspicuously absent from this summer’s festival lineups. However, this week brought word that they’re on the bill for Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival, where they’ll hit the stage on the Saturday of the Labor Day long weekend. I’ve got my ticket in hand already.

Toxic Gold:

This week’s Bombastic release reminded us of this 2008 interview that Mikel did with Erica Bruce of Between Love and Like, which has been a key source for us as we’ve put together the early chapters of Toxic History. Here, Mikel dishes on the genesis of the original acoustic videos.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

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