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Tracklist
1. The Honor Bar [MP3]
2. Where Are You? [MP3]
3. Flesh and Bone [MP3]
4. Be Good
5. Hey, Sol LeWitt
6. I Am Joe
7. The Sleepwalker
8. I Would Never Let You Drink Alone
9. Gunmetal Heart
10. I Left My Heart in Brooklyn
11. Coast of Cleveland
12. Don't Disappear
The Honor Bar

Five years in the making, this is the new album from the Unsacred Hearts.

THE HONOR BAR
by
The Unsacred Hearts
SBR50 / 2011

Formed in 2003, NYC rockists The Unsacred Hearts rose from the wreckage of teenage dreams, abandoned garages and naive knockoffs to make a visceral, poetic, original noise. While the band made their bones on ultra-distilled rock and roll, weird chords and wild live sets, they always led with the heart. Loud and fast, yes, but the sonic boom was just the straightest line to the truth. Now, with the release of their strangely beautiful second record called The Honor Bar, the Hearts move a bit further down that line.

Rhythmic, romantic, poetic, and still peculiar, The Honor Bar evokes the city of New York itself or, rather, the city resounds in The Honor Bar. The maelstrom and beauty of the city comes across in the sparse, unerring beats, the stark instrumental phrases, the myriad voices in whispers and shouts. Webs of sounds, words and images -- all traffic on the Bowery and midtown sky scrapers -- juxtapose with the sweet intimacy of the fire escape and 2AM walks down solitary side-streets. The constant voice is that of Joe Willie, more poet than singer, with a voice that only implies melody, and words, though littered with the everyday, reach for the grand themes of commitment, friendship, loss and love.

The Honor Bar is certainly not for everyone and neither are The Unsacred Hearts. When they formed, their only goal was to make rock n roll. They did not ask, what is cool, what do people want to hear, or what should we wear. The only question was, how do we keep playing rock n roll? And, over the years, they kept asking that question with each new song, each live set bringing a response. When they last asked, the answer was The Honor Bar.

The Honor Bar is currently available as a CD in a hand silk-screened eco-wallet or a cassette. Lobby us for a vinyl pressing. Digitally you can get it on Bandcamp (pay what you want), iTunes, Amazon, or your favorite digital retailer.



THE UNSACRED HEARTS - The Honor Bar by seriousbusiness



The Honor Bar

Sweet youth misspent, never knew the history
The road remained unbent, never knew the mystery
So I tangled up in highway, became Houdini on the blacktop
When I was deafened by the white noise, I just let the needle drop

Early-sixteen wonder kid, my heart was big but my mind was stuck
A lover’s touch is what it took beneath the stars in her father’s truck

It’ll be alright if you meet me tonight
I send this out to where you are
I’ll be down on the rocks with a boom-box
Then I’ll be at the honor bar
So just meet me at the honor bar

Lights and sirens down the shore where the bricks and the river meet
Circus skies play tricks on eyes but the mist makes kisses sweet
I’m a sailor lost at sea, my radio means so much to me
I hope I don’t lose the frequency, my radio means so much to me

It’ll be alright if you meet me tonight
I send this out to where you are
I’ll be stuck on the shoal of this rock n roll
Then I’ll be at the honor bar
So just meet me at the honor bar

Where Are You?

I hope you’re right, I shut the light, I hit the street, and the city is bright
With runaways and throwaways and Lady Days dying day and night
With safe bets and cigarettes and silly bands hauling gear to stage
And silhouettes and jet sets and dirty hands clenched in fists of rage

Where are you? Are you watching TV?
Are you doing drugs? Are you looking for me?
Where are you? Where are you?

It’s like a thrill from the still of a film that you used to love
It’s like a scene from a dream on the marquee sign above
A little king, a diamond ring, a pretty thing when you’re feeling bad
It’s kinda true, it’s kinda sad, because it makes you miss the things you had

Where are you? Are you watching TV?
Are you doing drugs? Are you looking for me?
Where are you? Where are you?

Flesh & Bone

Picture me, picture you, in a picture book we’re paging through
Picture me with the slings and the arrows, picture me when the dirt road narrows
On a hill, far from home, straits of Gibraltar, streets of Rome
Mississippi River rolling slow, lost in the rain, Juarez, Mexico

When you’re tired, when you’re on your own
I’ll be there, flesh and bone

I miss you, baby, when the river bends, I miss you, baby, when the dirt road ends
Picture me, picture you
Picture me, perchance to dream, picture you, beside the stream

When you’re weary, when you’re on your own
I’ll be there, flesh and bone

Be Good

Summer days, heavy in the city, the sun took a dive into the street
Dark skies, jets outshine the starlight, the wind is a stranger, kilowatts push the heat
A lover’s touch transmits secret language, a kiss burns a code that doesn’t fade
Signals tangle in the ether and echo to the river through the helicopter blades

These words tumble from your lips
Simple lines ring true
You said, baby, be good to me
And I will be good to you

Scientists with silver blades stalk around my bed
Angel dressed in red flies around my head
She said she’ll get a change a clothes, she’ll get my books, and she’ll get food
But a kiss will have to wait till you feel good

These words tumble from her lips
Simple lines ring true
You said, baby, be good to me
And I will be good to you

Hey, Sol Lewitt

Hey, Sol Lewitt, I watched them take apart your art
Jackhammer to the heart, when they took apart your art

Decked out in municipal red
Fire ants chewing on your art until it’s dead
They took apart your towers, they took apart your walls
I watched the hammer flying, I watched the hammer fall

Hey, Sol Lewitt, I watched them take apart your art
Jackhammer to the heart, when they took apart your art

I Am Joe

I am the freak lilac blooming from the pipe
I am rolling thunder to scare dogs beneath rugs
I am home for dinner, I am round from the beer
I am Solo and Doctor Jones in one room

I am the janitor of your senator’s closet
I am a waitress with pefect omelet lips
I am a conductor of a train who loves his voice in the static
I am lemon swimming in martini sips

When the time comes, I’ll tell you what I know, I’ll tell you all I know
I am Joe

They say that martinis are like womens’ breasts, three is too many but one is not enough
So true was the portait on the Fourth of July, watching the rockets as the water got rough

When the time comes, I’ll tell you what I know, I’ll tell you all I know
I am Joe

The Sleepwalker

I don’t want to stay in my bed so farewell avenue with your beauty monitor
Farewell Eveline with your mother’s sick jokes, I am here no more, I am here no more
I took pulse in the dark, the news was grim, but I slept silently then rose at four
To stand before the mirror in naked health but it was dark, I am invisible

I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
A riddle on the street in the middle of the night
I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
People think it’s strange, I think it’s alright

It makes a funny story, but this turbulent situation is no more
Noon sun doldrums have settled like painkillers, Einstein voted Man of the Century
He must be happy, we must be happy for him and thank him for his notions of time
Reverberating from the cellar to the attic, keeping me up at night, keeping me up at night

I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
A riddle on the street in the middle of the night
I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
People think it’s strange, I think it’s alright

Now we don’t look at time the same way we used,
funny it’s taking me so long to say goodbye,
I always said I hate long goodbyes, I always said I hate long goodbyes

I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
A riddle on the street in the middle of the night
I get caught sleepwalking in the moonlight
People think it’s strange, I think it’s alright

I Would Never Let You Drink Alone

There’s a prayer on my lips and poem in my heart
I would tell em both to you if I knew where to start
I used to just run my mouth, now that I’m fully grown
I’ll just say that I would never let you drink alone
I would never let you drink alone

The sun shines like a knife on winter afternoon
But it can’t cut the blues out, we’re waiting on the moon
And I’ll wait with you all night even if we’re just getting stoned
The important thing is I would never let you drink alone
I would never let you drink alone

I spy your eyes between the bottles, it’s a look that’s hard to mend
But I’m looking out for you because you are my friend
And you looked out for me when I thought I was on my own
That’s why I would never let you drink alone
I would never let you drink alone

Gunmetal Heart

I knew the dream was true when the fire grew
Brighter, wild in your eyes
I carried water from the lake till I thought my back would break
I fell asleep, dreamt of goobyes

Don’t aim at me, gunmetal heart
We were not born to grow apart

I slept beneath the glow of your fire burning slow
Then when I knew we would never, ever part
Your chrome caught up in light, your fire burning bright
That’s when I saw my gunmetal heart

Don’t aim at me, gunmetal heart
We were not born to grow apart

I Left My Heart in Brooklyn

Drunk parakeets on telegraph hill
Choir on the wire above the Coup de Ville
The old engine idles at the gates of the park
There’s blood in the sky from the shots in the dark

The bricks, the bridges, the underground trains
I’m going back to Kings County and there’ll I’ll remain
When I die and my soul takes wings, bury my body in the country of Kings

The East River crossings, sun through the steel
Stuck in a move, bright but unreal
Juliet watches her brothers, she don’t know her dad
Her mother sends money back to Trinidad
She says, “Oh, Romeo, you silly boy.
Life ain’t a game. I ain’t a toy.”

I was young and full of fire when I left home
No direction, just desire, to wander and roam
I returned, humbled, limp in my walk
Chill in my look, tremolo in my talk
The bricks, the bridges, the underground trains
I’m going back to Kings County and there’ll I’ll remain
When I die and my soul takes wings, bury my body in the country of Kings

Coast of Cleveland

This old habit is hard to break
I got to head down to the lake
When the weatherman warns
Storms blowing on the lake
Water’s brown but we don’t care
Got to get the grease out of your hair
Catch a wave, catch a wave, catch a wave and
you can be anywhere, you’ll be anywhere

Swimming out in ten degrees, just before the winter freeze
Oh, oh, surfing Ohio is like a strange disease

Got the board in the back of the van,
Ain’t got no sunshine, ain’t got no tan
Keep my winter days free, work all summer long
That’s my only plan, that’s my only plan
My body’s cold, my heart is strong



Don’t Disappear

Everything that had stayed the same for going on a dozen years
All of sudden came crashing down and left a ringing in my ears
Less like a tolling church bell than waves lapping on the pier
Hanging down by the jetty rocks, I hope it don’t disappear
Don’t disappear, don’t disappear
Hanging down by the jetty rocks, don’t disappear

Now all the words I ever wrote I keep in my daddy’s garage
I still get the questions from they boys at the bar down at the motor lodge
Like, “Why don’t you put this in your book?” and “Whatever happened to you there?”
I say, “I will” and “I don’t know,” I think don’t disappear
Don’t disappear, don’t disappear
I say, “I will” and “I don’t know,” don’t disappear

Now I’m head-deep in the archives, looking for another spell
To put on you so you will do the things you do so well
But I get to feel like a thief in the night, I get to feel the stinging tears
Hanging down by the jetty rocks, I hope it don’t disappear
Don’t disappear, don’t disappear
Hanging down by the jetty rocks, don't disappear



The Honor Bar
by
The Unsacred Hearts
Produced by Travis Harrison for Serious Business Records
Recorded and mixed by Travis Harrison
at Serious Business Music, NYC (Brooklyn then SoHo)
starting in mid 2006 and concluding in early 2011
The Unsacred Hearts are Joe Willie, Dave Siegel, Travis Harrison

1. The Honor Bar
Dave: guitar, glockenspiel, piano, accordion
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums, bass, percussion

2. Where Are You?
Dave: guitar, bass
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums, percussion
Andy Bean: bax vox, trumpet, guitar

3. Flesh and Bone
Dave: guitar, bass, piano
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums, percussion
Jaymay: singing

4. Be Good
Dave: guitar
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Josh Kaufman: bass, piano, singing
Brian Kantor: drums, singing
Chris Weary: singing

5. Hey, Sol LeWitt
Dave: komuz, accordion
Joe: vocal
Travis: guitar, knobs

6. I Am Joe
Dave: guitar, piano
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Andy Bean: bass, singing
Fuller Condon: singing

7. The Sleepwalker
Dave: guitar
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Andy Bean: bass, vocal

8. I Would Never Let You Drink Alone
Dave: guitar
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Andy Bean: piano, singing
Todd Pascarella: upright bass, singing

9. Gunmetal Heart
Dave: guitar, violin, glockenspiel
Joe: vocal
Travis: recorded this on 4 track @ Joe's place

10. I Left My Heart in Brooklyn
Dave: guitar, all instruments
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Boshra al Saadi: singing

11. Coast of Cleveland
Dave: guitar
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Andy Bean: bass, singing

12. Don't Disappear
Dave: guitar
Joe: vocal
Travis: drums
Andy Bean: bass
Josh Kaufman: piano
Rebecca Roses Harrison: shaker
Mike Phillips: pedal steel
Jaymay: singing
Benji Cossa: singing







Press
"There are nights in your life, they usually happen in your mid to late 20s, that define you as an adult. There is a clarity to these nights, years later you can still smell the smells, hear the voices, feel the chill in the air, remember the colors in the sky as you and that special someone are greeted by the morning sun. Some how you hold on to the details despite being drunk since 10pm, everyone gets a handful of these nights and they come to be the nights that tell your story, they are the foundation of what your life becomes.

With The Honor Bar, The Unsacred Hearts have absolutely captured the essence of this. They transport you to the very core of it. The wonder and sheer joy that comes from even the most dire and unhinged moments. The heartbreak and sadness is equally as important as the unbridled euphoria that only this time can bring. The Unsacred Hearts embody it on The Honor Bar.

Front man Joe Willie channels a mix of Tom Waits, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan with his sing songy spoken word inner city griot style. Sonically it is a mix of Waiting on a Friend era Rolling Stones and Cypress Ave Van Morrison. The sound is ambitious and smells of stale booze and old cigarettes. It is grand in its scope and gorgeous in its simplicity.

Take some time and revel in the sound of hope, fear, joy, confusion, booze soaked drama and drug addled joy. The Honor Bar is the formative years of your life wrapped in a smoky poetic bow, a snap shot of everything you hoped you would be and were innocent enough to think would be what you wanted."
-TIM BAKER, Syffal

AEM029-1 The Unsacred Hearts (Follow-Up Review)
"Issued almost two years ago on Novem­ber 30th 2009, AEM029 intro­duced The Unsa­cred Hearts as a band in the midst of a sea change, caught between their early roots as a fire­brand post-punk out­fit from Blue Point Long Island and an uncer­tain future as a group of poet­i­cally inclined and musi­cally intel­li­gent adults with jobs, law degrees, wives, and chil­dren. For the last five years The Unsa­cred Hearts have been work­ing towards their lat­est album, fix­ing on it like a dis­tant star that’s always vis­i­ble but just barely out of reach. Instru­men­tal ver­sions of the songs have been float­ing around for years, serv­ing as the sound­track to band mem­bers’ lives, both inform­ing and being informed by this great tran­si­tion. Drum­mer Travis Har­ri­son even walked down the aisle to an early ver­sion of B-Side “Flesh and Bone”. Work­ing off and on at Seri­ous Busi­ness Music with a coterie of friends, the album began to take shape, and at last The Unsa­cred Hearts com­pleted and released The Honor Bar. We’re thrilled to fol­low up on our orig­i­nal 7-inch with two tracks from this release, which is avail­able now on CD and Cas­sette from Seri­ous Busi­ness Records.

I spoke with drum­mer, pro­ducer, and engi­neer Travis Har­ri­son about the new record and the impe­tus behind The Unsa­cred Hearts’ change in musi­cal direc­tion. It was, he explained, an attempt to make music that was more acces­si­ble, and that he could put on at home with­out being asked to turn it down or off. The band sim­ply wanted to make the kind of music that they them­selves wished to lis­ten to. After years of punk-inspired invec­tive, The Hearts wanted to recast them­selves in a mold that spoke more directly to their cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. When their self-titled debut was released in 2004 they didn’t have fam­i­lies or careers. There’s a rea­son that the music-to-beverage-matching web­site drinkify.org lists “The Unsa­cred Hearts” recipe as 4 oz. Mar­i­juana, 4 oz. Gin­ger Ale, and 1 oz. Macallan Scotch. They were once young dudes mak­ing loud music. Now they’re medium-young dudes mak­ing lis­ten­able music. It’s a change that makes most musi­cians uncom­fort­able, like they’re giv­ing up some essen­tial part of their being by sac­ri­fic­ing the atti­tudes they devel­oped as teenagers. But what The Unsa­cred Hearts under­stand is that their energy and enthu­si­asm isn’t gone, but rather rechan­neled into cre­at­ing a lush musi­cal ter­ri­tory they were once too drunk or near­sighted to fully ren­der. Singer and lyri­cist Joe Willie sums this up won­der­fully, “While we made our bones on ultra-distilled rock and roll, weird chords and wild live sets, we always led with the heart. Loud and fast, yes, but the sonic boom was just the straight­est line to the truth.”

If “the truth” is some­thing that can be dis­tilled into a song (and I believe it is), then Joe Willie is a kind of musi­cal ora­cle. In his ear­lier days he came across as a fren­zied beat poet front­man, as if some­one had given Jim Mor­ri­son the stage at an open mic and handed him an eight ball of cocaine. On The Unsa­cred Hearts’ lat­est mate­r­ial he comes off as sage-like, split some­where between Tom Waits, Lou Reed, and Gil Scott-Heron. The acoustic land­scape of this album is less jagged than in past attempts, and Joe Willie’s spo­ken vocals float atop a more serene tra­jec­tory, allow­ing for greater focus on a blended aes­thetic and lyri­cal turns of phrase. In his sum­mary of the album, which is itself a mas­ter­ful bit of prose, he turns back to New York as a cycli­cal influ­ence on The Honor Bar. He explains, “The Honor Bar evokes the city of New York itself or, rather, the city resounds in The Honor Bar. The mael­strom and beauty of the city comes across in the sparse, unerr­ing beats, the stark instru­men­tal phrases, the myr­iad voices in whis­pers and shouts. Webs of sounds, words and images — all traf­fic on the Bow­ery and mid­town sky scrap­ers — jux­ta­pose with the sweet inti­macy of the fire escape and 2AM walks down soli­tary side-streets.” It’s a sound­track not for New York City, but an abstrac­tion of New York City, for those pre­cious few moments when you lose your­self com­pletely in the web of mono­lithic archi­tec­ture and com­pact humanity.

A-Side and title track “The Honor Bar” fades in to a tum­ble of per­cus­sive thun­der and giv­ing way to hand drum per­cus­sion and a dri­ving fig­ure on acoustic gui­tar set to the walk­ing pace of your aver­age long-legged New Yorker. The instru­men­ta­tion is lush, with glock­en­spiel, bass, piano, accor­dion, elec­tric gui­tar, and a com­pressed drum set added to the mix at the cho­rus. There’s an elec­tronic vibe to this track that’s unheard on pre­vi­ous recordings–the tin­kered drum sound and dis­torted melodic fig­ure on the outro all hint at an extended sonic palette for The Unsa­cred Hearts. It all serves as a back­drop for Joe Willie’s bari­tone mus­ings, which are heard with a new depth and res­o­nance thanks to the rel­a­tive tran­quil­ity of the musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment. This was the last song com­pleted for The Honor Bar, and best encap­su­lates the atti­tudes dri­ving the band’s project in self-reinvention. This is music I could read to, music I could work to, music I could put on and ignore, but what makes it spe­cial is that I wouldn’t actu­ally want to do any of those things. Some­thing about it con­tin­ues to com­mand lis­ten­ers’ full atten­tion, and it does so through a great depth of musi­cal vision rather than pure vol­ume. This more than any­thing is a sign that The Unsa­cred Hearts aren’t just grow­ing up and con­tin­u­ing to make records–they’re maturing.

B-Side “Flesh & Bone” is a lyri­cal pas­tiche of musi­cal and lit­er­ary ref­er­ences. Some are undoubt­edly inten­tional and some maybe inci­den­tal, but none come off as heavy-handed. Rather, they suc­ceed in evok­ing the spirit and ambiance of entire songs and impart­ing some part of their essence and mean­ing on “Flesh & Bone”. The com­plete lyrics are below, with footnotes:

Pic­ture me, pic­ture you, in a pic­ture book(1) we’re pag­ing through
Pic­ture me with the slings and the arrows(2), pic­ture me when the dirt road nar­rows
On a hill, far from home, straits of Gibral­tar, streets of Rome(3)
Mis­sis­sippi River rolling slow, lost in the rain, Juarez, Mex­ico(4)


When you’re tired, when you’re on your own
I’ll be there, flesh and bone
I miss you, baby, when the river
bends(5), I miss you, baby, when the dirt road ends
Pic­ture me, pic­ture you
Pic­ture me, per­chance to dream(6), pic­ture you, beside the stream

When you’re weary, when you’re on your own
I’ll be there, flesh and bone

1.) The Kinks — Pic­ture Book: “Pic­ture book, pic­tures of your mama, taken by your papa a long time ago. // Pic­ture book, of peo­ple with each other, to prove they love each other a long time ago.”

2.) Shake­speare — Ham­let: “To be, or not to be, that is the ques­tion: // Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suf­fer // The slings and arrows of out­ra­geous for­tune, // Or to take arms against a sea of trou­bles, // And by oppos­ing end them?”

3.) Bob Dylan — When I Paint My Mas­ter­piece: “Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rub­ble / Ancient foot­prints are every­where / You can almost think that you’re seein’ dou­ble / On a cold, dark night on the Span­ish Stairs”

4.) Bob Dylan — Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues: “When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez // And it’s East­er­time too // And your grav­ity fails // And neg­a­tiv­ity don’t pull you through // Don’t put on any airs // When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue // They got some hun­gry women there // And they really make a mess outta you”

5.) The Coun­try Gen­tle­men — Down Where: “Down where the river bends // With God’s help we’ll meet again // Under the same old sycamore tree // Proud of each other in the land of the free // I’ll go down to the ocean blue // Just as close as I can to you // This old ocean might keep us apart // But it won’t keep you dear from out of my heart”

6.) Shake­speare — Ham­let: “To die, to sleep // To sleep—perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub! // For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, // When we have shuf­fled off this mor­tal coil, // Must give us pause—there’s the respect // That makes calamity of so long life.”

These ref­er­ences weave an intri­cate sub­text to the song, evok­ing numer­ous depic­tions of death and forc­ing us to con­sider the nature of human mem­o­ries and inter­ac­tions. The Pic­ture Book ref­er­ence sug­gests that we doc­u­ment our own lives only to con­vince our­selves that we’ve had sub­stan­tial expe­ri­ences once we can no longer feel them so acutely. And yet, though mem­o­ries fade, some expe­ri­ences per­sist across time, and there’s an ele­ment of humanity’s pres­ence that we can seem­ingly access through local­ity or state of mind, as indi­cated by the ref­er­ence to When I Paint My Mas­ter­piece. But through all this, through hard­ships and strug­gle, what should be our rela­tion­ship with death? Is it an escape or a demise? Joe Willie engages this con­ver­sa­tion with a text of his own, pro­foundly con­tem­plat­ing man’s posi­tion on this earth and our rela­tion­ship to a hazy past and a pre­car­i­ous future. This inter­ac­tion is real­ized musi­cally as an acoustic bal­lad, giv­ing way to vocal coun­ter­point between Joe Willie and guest vocal­ist Jay­may, in an exchange that grap­ples with the eter­nal nature of true love, which is wholly sup­ported by Willie’s lyrics and simul­ta­ne­ously prob­lema­tized by the var­i­ous ref­er­ences sprin­kled through­out the song. Once fully teased out, it’s a bril­liant polemic that’s typ­i­cal of Joe Willie’s remark­able insight as a lyricist.

To round out his descrip­tion of The Honor Bar, Joe Willie writes, “The Honor Bar is cer­tainly not for every­one and nei­ther are The Unsa­cred Hearts. When we formed, our only goal was to make rock n roll. We did not ask, what is cool, what do peo­ple want to hear, or what should we wear. The only ques­tion was, how do we keep play­ing rock n roll? And, over the years, we kept ask­ing that ques­tion with each new song, each live set bring­ing a response. When we last asked, the answer was The Honor Bar.” I couldn’t have said it bet­ter myself."

Ben Heller, THE AMPEATER REVIEW