Scottish veterans, The Zephyrs will be releasing their sixth album, For Sapphire Needle on 27th January via Spanish label, Acuarela. Their first new album in thirteen years is a mix of folk, rock and shoegaze, drawing from the likes of Gram Parsons, Big Star and Slowdive.
Originally conceived of as a series of EPs based on the seasons in which they were created, the recordings spanned a year of sessions with long-time collaborator and producer Michael Brennan at his Substation studio, next to a naval port in Rosyth. With songs ranging from short and tightly constructed country-folk introspections to sprawling, spaced-out psychedelia, and a killer Spaghetti Western instrumental, what resulted was a myriad volume of work. For Sapphire Needle is the first collection of 10 of these songs to be released.
The album opens with “Leatherback”, a Crazy Horse inspired wall of distorted guitars drawing on lyrics from The Zephyr’s first album and pre-history, followed by the four songs earmarked for the first of the seasonal EPs – ‘Winter’; an early version of “December” appearing on the Japanese release of the 2001 album A Year To The Day (Setanta).
Elsewhere on the album, “I Tell You What” had much of its writing and recording initiated in a wooden shack near Aviemore and “Bolder” tells the story of overheard bar-side conversations and delayed flights in Denver airport, where lizard people live underground and some say the new world order lays dormant. The domestic depression of “How Have You Been Today” precedes closing opus “Aliens”, inspired in equal measures by the maturation as social control science fiction of The Tripods and the schlock b-movie imagery of Rocky Erickson’s The Evil One.
The album is the work of an older and more consistent The Zephyrs. Stuart Nicol, David Nicol and Robert Dillam joined by collaborators: guitarist John Brennan and keyboardist Will Bates. The songs and sounds are sculpted out of slabs of time with friends at the Substation, a de facto weekly youth club for musicians who refuse to grow old.