In January and February of 2009 Miniature Tigers were touring with Ben Folds in support of his then new album Way to Normal. At the time I was a student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a member of the all-male acappella group The Spartones. If you’ve ever experienced collegiate acappella then you know it’s EXACTLY like Pitch Perfect. Exactly. You might also know that Ben Folds had a moment of perpetual and universal acappella adoration, becoming one of the most covered artists. As a result he compiled an album of his songs performed by collegiate groups, and some even opened a few of his shows.
This is how I came to be, one cold night in February, at The Orange Peel in downtown Asheville, NC. Ecstatic with nerves and performance jitters, my ‘bandmates’ and I took the stage where we performed a short set in a packed (and revered) venue. That was a brief and fleeting ‘spotlight’ moment, one that would become no more than a warm and joyful memory stored in the annals of my mind. What was more special than being on that stage was discovering a band that I would fall in love with. Miniature Tigers went on after us, just as my gay best friend and our bro-mance counterparts were returning from a post-performance pre-concert doobie. Their set blew me away. It was joyful, classic, poppy, genuine, vulnerable, and the melodies brought me to life, sounding new and yet completely familiar.
We were fortunate enough to share a stage with them again at the next show in Charlotte, NC. There was a snow storm that night and a few of us Spartones decided to get a hotel room instead of making the dangerous drive home. We found ourselves habitating the same rent-a-room as Miniature Tigers, and had previously established a hang-out (aka they needed some ‘locals’ to help them find weed.) We were more than happy to oblige, and simply tacked their requests onto our own order. How cool were we? A couple of acappella nerds and newfound potheads providing the goods for a band of enlightened and popular musicians. We may have felt like ballers at the beginning of that night, but it ended with the band lounging on their hotel room beds while my fellow Spartones and I huddled, standing, in a stoner’s circle, giggling and behaving erratically until finally finding the least uncomfortable way of departing, completely aware that any hopes of leaving a good impression had been shattered.
This is all to say, these guys are incredibly talented. Even without this quirky memory I’d still have their albums on rotation. This new track is a quality release that brings to mind their earlier work. With Mia Pharrow (a fucking fantastic record), the trend was (as is with everything) incorporating more synthetic sounds. On Swimming Pool Blues however the guys are going back to their Tell it to the Volcano days, without losing their commercially gained and industry trained restraint and tact. This is the sign of veterans doing what they do best, and thank god for it. Especially excited for their album release Cruel Runnings(out May 27th).