Why has a 2003 track from a Little Rock trio been spun on dance nights at an Atlanta nightclub but never seen the light of day in its town of provenance? It’s complicated. Suffice it to say, Affection’s new (old) self-titled record is out now on Drawing Room Records, 18 years after it was recorded, and listening to it makes pretty clear why the relatively short-lived band was so beloved in its day. The nine track time-capsule is bouncy and frenetic, in part because there’s a ton of air and space between beats — a testament to the cohesion between creators Jeremy Brasher, Andrew Morgan and Lloyd Benjamin. And, like much of the music that’s come from Brasher, Morgan and Benjamin in the projects they’ve played in individually (Country Florist, RATH, The Looks, The Moving Front, Chinese Girls), Affection’s 2003 LP is both smart and wholly danceable. Here’s a note about the project from Brasher, included in the album’s liner insert:
“When starting a band there’s often an initial idea, or some expectation. Maybe it’s a genre you are going to work within, or you’re collaborating with a familiar songwriter. Sometimes you are just out to rip off some other band as best you can and see what happens. Affection was none of those things. It’s one of the few projects I’ve been involved in where I feel like everything sounded exactly like who we were. Andrew, Lloyd and I all fell into it together without any real concept or thought of direction and, from music to lyrics, it just was us.”
Benjamin, a visual artist who played drums and percussion in Affection — and who now plays in a band called Scratch-Offs and a solo project called Uneven Lanes — left Little Rock for Atlanta in 2003. He told us this week that the Affection recording, engineered by Marcus Lowe, got put on the back burner after the move.
“It was all before social media,” Benjamin said, “and it just wasn’t as easy to keep a band going long distance, so it got shelved.” Then, a couple of years ago, Benjamin was in conversations with Jeff Kuykendall of Drawing Room Records, a fellow Little Rock native, and decided to try and get a proper release for the Affection recording.
“I thought it was deserving of something more, something tactile. I’m an archivist at heart,” Benjamin said. “I believe in having tangible objects you can hold.”
And, he said, he just loves the recording. He’s not alone; “5 a.m. Lights” has been in my head all week and I’m pretty delighted about it. “I’m biased, ’cause I’m in it,” Benjamin said, “but I think it’s a great recording. And when I moved to Atlanta, I played it for friends here, and it actually got a lot of attention here. The timing was just a little too early. But clubs here would play the track ‘Western Drives,’ — there’s a famous club here that’s actually still open called MJQ, and they’d play it on their big Wednesday night dance nights, you know, indie rock kinda dance nights. … I think it still stands up, maybe actually better now than it did back then.”
Lee Tesche’s album art is crisp, the beats are crisper and if you’ve been a fan of any of this trio’s various individual projects, it’s your cup of tea. Go grab it here, or at Control Records in Hillcrest or Arkansas Record & CD Exchange.