Portland, Oregon-based songwriter, performer and producer Mike Coykendall's new record, Chasing Away The Dots, is the latest in a long and winding musical journey that has taken him from the rural farmlands of Kansas to television and concert stages around the world. If integrity, experience and artistry still count for anything, this record will be his most well-received to date. Over the years, Coykendall has been critically acclaimed as a musician, engineer and producer for his work with well-known artists such as M. Ward, She & Him, Blitzen Trapper, Bright Eyes, the Old Joe Clarks, Tin Hat, Sallie Ford, Richmond Fontaine and Jolie Holland, to name but a few.
Coykendall's own compositions are wildly rich and varied, with and unpretentious and organically unpredictable quality, immediately drawing the listener in, then continuing to reward over repeated listens. On Chasing Away The Dots, Coykendall is joined by a star-studded cast of special guests, including M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel, Ben Gibbard, Eric Earley (Blitzen Trapper), Rob Burger (Tin Hat, Iron & Wine), Scott McPherson (Eliott Smith, Beck), and a long list from Portland's rich musical community.
The sounds contained within the grooves of Chasing Away The Dots range from earnest to irreverent, wistful to scorching, direct to oblique, always with an underpinning of subtle psychedelia. The mood lifts and falls while Coykendall's distinctly American voice casually narrates the whole affair. Lyrically, the album takes on such universal subjects as loss, love, alienation, separation, longing, aging, infatuation, kindness, and other human conditions. These themes emerge, filtered through the eyes and ears of someone who has bee around long enough to live through it, and return, several times over--a man who knows that the sun will rise, and so will the moon.
Coykendall will be touring nationally and internationally in support of the record beginning in September. The record is being released both in CD format, and as a special limited-edition vinyl package, The vinyl edition will include, as a bonus, an exclusive copy (on CD) of the album in an expanded double record edition featuring 11 extra tracks. A Daytrotter session was recorded, and has recently been posted, highlighting four of the tracks from the new record (as performed by Coykendall with help from M. Ward, Chris Scruggs, Scott McPherson, and Carlos Forster).
IN MIKE'S WORDS:
"I was born Michael Revere Coykendall in rural Kansas, September of 1963. There is a lot of confusion as to how my last name is pronounced. My heritage pronounces it as "Kirk-in-doll." I can't explain the spelling. I don't know. There must have been trouble somewhere. So, I'll answer to about anything. Nice to meet you.
Chasing Away The Dots (Fluff and Gravy Records, 2012) is the culmination of 48 years of living and negotiating the slippery slopes of this intangible thing called music. The journey began in rural Norwich, Kansas at age two when I would sing at local grocery stores, banks, hair salons, restaurants, etc... I was the freakish child who would belt out a long multi-versed songs (that I had learned from my mother) upon request. I wised up and stopped this foolishness by age four, but the music bug was always there. As a child I spent my mornings at the breakfast table listening to Country Western radio with my father, but rock and roll found a way into my heart as well, much to my father's dismay.
I had my first band in high schoolwe played Beatles and Stones covers. Since then, it's been many performances, records, successes, failures, laughs, late nights, and mornings that come too early. I've been writing songs since the early '80s and have made many a wild recording since that time. Over the last 10 years or so, as an engineer/producer/musician, I have had the good fortune to finally be able to make music my sole focus, working with M. Ward, Blitzen Trapper, Tin Hat Trio, She & Him, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, Fernando, Richmond Fontaine, Beth Orton and Bright Eyes, just to name a few. Chasing Away The Dots would not exist without every life experience (good and bad) that led up to it.
The album took four years to complete. I would fill books full of lyrics and then start putting them to music, recording basic takes, mostly improvisations, onto a cassette 4-track. I filled hundreds of these cassettes. There were no rules--straight songs or pure avant-indulgence. The editing would come later. The best, most promising bits, were then transferred from the 4-track cassette to the 8-track 1/2" machine. Overdubs were added. Friends were invited in to add their talents. Many quick mixes were made along the way; hours and hours of playtime and problem-solving, being careful not to belabor anything. All of my characters (good and bad) were invited to the party. The shy/melancholy one, the philosopher/preacher, the playful chaser, the dreamer/escapist, and the reckless believer--they all had plenty of time to assert their influence. Chasing Away The Dots is the only room in the house in which they all felt comfortable."