low light trades

by Bret Koontz

/
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

      $7 USD  or more

     

  • Cassette + Digital Album

    Professionally-dubbed cassette, released by Planted Tapes. Liner notes include lyrics.

    Includes unlimited streaming of low light trades via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 2 days

      $7 USD or more 

     

1.
03:18
2.
03:36
3.
03:56
4.
04:46
5.
04:52
6.
7.
04:50
8.
03:12
9.
10.
03:05
11.

about

"Close blends of jazz with hints of folk in a poised environment that just surpassed the renaissance, old-school, but pushing it the right way. Like the lines of privacy and secrecy, and exploring the in-between. Walks along with guitar to storytelling, blooming song-writing that’s rarely heard in our WiFi, BluTooth, [electronic, generally] environment."
-C Monster, Tiny Mix Tapes

I recorded Low Light Trades in a coach house on the western edge of Logan Square, Chicago. If you walk up on it at night, it bears more than a passing resemblance to a haunted house. I remember when people would ask me what I was up to during that period I would tell them I was making a ‘bedroom recording that isn’t going to sound like it was recorded in a bedroom.’ For the ambient sound that serves as a backdrop for the album closer On Weird Lake, I placed a mic on my windowsill and got a field recording of the odd combination of nature and city sounds I hear most nights. If you listen closely right before the fade out you’ll hear a distant motorcycle barreling down Fullerton Avenue. The songs were written there and at Situations (an underground venue I lived at for a number of years) with the exception of Nashville, which I wrote sitting in my kitchen in Pilsen one afternoon looking at our half-broken stove.

The album title definitely has a double meaning. On the one hand, there’s trades as transactions, which for me would include the exchange of emotional support, physical affection, love, and loyalties—the sort of interpersonal things that take on a more self-reflective tone at, say, three in the morning on a Sunday. Then on the other hand you have trade as a job or skill. Musicians or anybody involved in touring or running any sort of venue are often plying their trade in near darkness: arrive after sundown, discuss the evening’s business by the light of a beer sign, pack your gear in a dark corner with a flashlight. It also struck me that in terms of environment, some of these songs would probably best be appreciated with the lights dialed down a little bit.

With the autobiographical songs on this album, I was writing about scenarios in my life that seemed to repeat themselves. Spain, for instance, addresses the bitterness, judgement, and false victimhood you feel when someone leaves you when your life is already on a downswing. I’ve been on both sides of that (as I think most people have) more than once in my life. So in retrospect, once you have some distance, it’s more about the patterns of behavior than who exactly did what, y’know? But in the moment . . . The opening track, Games, is about all of my close friends and the people I regard as compatriots or ‘contemporaries.’ It’s about the things we do to try and create real magic in our lives and how we won’t be tamed no matter how hard outside forces try to scare us straight. There’s too many to list here, but you could say they’re definitely silent partners to the album as a whole.

credits

released June 1, 2017

Low Light Trades was produced, engineered, and mixed by Bret Koontz in Hotel Earth, a coach house.
Violin on “the Claim” by Ian Bertorelli.
Mastered by Dave Vettraino (Public House Sound).
All songs written by Bret Koontz, copyright 2004-2017.

Special Thanks to Molly Plunk, Bob Ness, Chip Hamlett, Liam Warfield, John Wheatley, Sydney Roth, Ari Mejia, Doni Schroader, Crawford Philleo & all bandmates past and present.

tags

license

all rights reserved

about

Bret Koontz Chicago, Illinois

Chicago by way of Nashville. Recording artist and Producer, multi-instrumentalist but first and foremost a songwriter.

bretkunst.com

contact / help

Contact Bret Koontz

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: Games
What kind of game would you like to play?
‘cause I’ve got something here that could make you sleep
what kind of hour would you like to spend?
it all depends, can you pretend?
through sadly awakening these powers you will comfort me
through madly passing these hours it has come to be
the waveform is falling
as the weak shall fall beneath the sword of the strong
I never could remember I always get to play
and if you tell them I will stay
oh Sharon oh Sharon oh Sharon oh Sharon
please take me with you
oh Darren oh Darren oh Darren oh Darren
please take me with you when you go
and all the things that people say to you:
a lot of civilized words
you name the time and I’ll name the place and time
‘cause it’s all not worth the dime
so what kind of game would you like to play?
and what kind of hour would you like to spend?
and how would you like your new game to end?
I’ve already fallen behind several friends
Track Name: Walk
I’ll walk with the sun until it’s done guiding my way
A blonde on the haze a branch in the swirling rays
On trees bend bent to the wind
And if we should lose satellite blues eyes in our palms
In guises of long long ago dreams and lies
Lost to the wind
But everyone says you’re the same and only to blame for the leisure
And everyone says it’s a shame you’re only to blame for the pleasure

Anyone falling down is heavily sent that’s how the river flows
I had a regular time in on my own the sons of Saturday are melting my brain away again

I lost all my dreams swept from the streams into the night
Darkness surrounds and whispers the only sound
Into the wind

I saw the hinterland under my brow
Such a rarely indelicate fool a
mischievous smile and an elegant bow
saying ‘where do you want to go now?’
Track Name: Nashville
Well we like our home cooking but we don’t like it strange
that’s why we’re all riding the electric range
yeah everybody here in Nashville is afraid of the gas
except when we’re huffing or snorting up glass
oh burn victim daughters no not in Nashville I say
all of you fathers take your burn victim daughters
with their hideous scars and sail ‘em away
everything’s under control I got conductor coils on the top of my stove
oh Nashville oh Lord you don’t mind the football team oiling up your name
but your corn cobs can’t be fired by not by an electric flame
you desire an electric flame

There’s a pillar of fire in the town of your birth
there’s a tape of the tide that will cover the earth
there’s a sinner who sings that the state is a bomb
there’s a man or a king who has eyes for his mom
there’s a pinstriper’s business sense spreading this ignorance
fearing the decadence hating the orient
oh burn victim daughters no not in Nashville I say
all of you fathers take your burn victim daughters
with their hideous scars and sail em away
get away from it all at the Cape they showed Ron Howard’s ‘Backdraft’ and I got it on tape
oh Nashville oh Lord talk of electric shock won’t fuck your day
but the rest is assured they’re in stitches every time that you say
we were bitches to the old TVA
in a similar fashion they have taken my wife
there’s a criminal passion at the end of my life
Track Name: Deanna
We were two of a kind on the line
And working in the factory was second rate
To killing time
In the back of my mind I got away with you
But everybody knows just how the summer goes
In winter towns when everything is shuttered and closed
How you turned to say
‘So many questions, but no new answers in our time’
I’d like to see you I never should’ve caught your eye
Looking back over the Falls
The water will ever be sound
You were just hangin around Deanna
And if you ever get lost
The places we wanted to find
I’ll always cherish your mind Deanna
We were just wasting your time

When you opened your eyes at the picture show
Suddenly you felt it past time to go
Said ‘I’ve got to go’

For the weight on my mind I could’ve fell in two
To be the ones get left behind is hard to do
And rings a little louder in a smaller crew
When we’d said the darkest things that we could say to you
How you turned to say
So many questions but no new answers in our time
Sure, I could stay here, but if I did I’d probably die
Looking back over the Falls
The water may ever be bare
I am still seeing you there Deanna
And if you ever get lost
The places we wanted to find
I’ll always cherish you mind Deanna
We were just wasting your time

It’s lonelier now that Beth and Jeffery are gone for the long one
It’s funny how a little champagne figures out
The taste and the memory of getting on
I think that I’m done: one more boy who got done
Looking back over the Falls
The water may ever be clear
I am still keeping you near
Deanna
Track Name: Spain
No former feeling ‘ve you felt tonight
And it’ll all be alright when we get home
Got mad at the party off a brown liquor drink
And a gut rotted stink was in your eye
It’s a song I can’t stop singing but if you can’t take the strain
Then I’ll get back to you tomorrow when I get back from Spain

No low-ballin’ heart No low-ballin’ heart will you reap

I do what I want now and you do the same
And it’s all just a game that we broke
There’s a bottle in the bedroom and a bottle on the porch
And a tiny little torch in a cage
It’s a room that won’t stop spinning but if you can’t take the strain
Then I’ll get back to you tomorrow when I get back from Spain

No low-ballin’ heart No low-ballin’ heart will you reap

Go ahead and buy in and help me to sell out
‘cause the bright light fell out of your eye
you purchase all you own now purchase all you think
you purchase everything and close the books
and I’m sorry for the hatred and you’re sorry for the pain
And we’ll sorry for the truth it wasn’t worth it to explain
And there’s a word for what I’m doing but I’m gonna call it Spain

No low-ballin’ heart No low-ballin’ heart will you reap
What you’ve sewn? And ‘so what’ for the others
Who would pray you let them go? A long time ago
Will you find somewhere else to belong? No.
Track Name: the Weight of the Witch
You could never encounter what slipped through your door
it’s the much-maligned visitor it’s the man from before
and now you say he’s bringing you down
it’s the weight of the witch on your shoulders
it’s the weight of the witch on your shoulders
it’s the weight of the witch
and now you know it’s not just passing time
oh you’d like to see Time travel slowly
you’d like to see life pass you by
but still the witch is waiting on your shoulders
and I am waiting in the wings for her
Track Name: Ruthless
The pain you feel in the back of your head makes you weak
You’re about to about to cross another friend again so ruthless
I’m the only one you saved. Oh, cruel kindness
It’s a shame you knew just what you would do: now they’re dead
You’re about to meet another fitting end so truthless
I’m the only one you gave your cruel kindness
And you could change, but it would be fake change
And I could change, but those would be phony changes
People will do as they want to be seen
But the things you do won’t keep you from your knees
And if something happens, help it to be swept under the rug
And if nothing happens, help is to be swept under you
Need someone to lead you to the dru-uugs
You never had time or space to be
What can we share now but remorse and misery
Ruth ruthless Truth truthless I need you less and less
I could show you --hanging from a window sill—
Making something so much more than it should ever be
And in the afternoon I’ve never seen screens so bright before
All that we’re lacking is the night
And a strange new zeal has gripped you at last, from behind

You wonder if you’ve suffered to be kind
Oh, kindness! You’ve moved northwest and changed your name
What can I do now but the same?
Track Name: the Claim
The claim was a shallow grave
deep enough for wealth to hide
but the gold ran out the other side
and the shame of a hollow vein
the deed was worn and bound in twine
when I stole it from a friend of mine
and the river laid down by the sea
when I sold him to his enemies
and what do I see? a whole world laid out and lost
the creek dried up a white boy’s dam
and I remain a helpless man
and time may teach you
but I’ll remain the nameless same
until the vein begins again
or the land of my father
could stretch so much further
or I could be you
but there is a trail that leads back
and I believe no one sleeps in the night
you’re carrying a load
no more gold in sight
Track Name: Meat Off the Bone
You take the meat right off the bone
and eat alone for the last time as far as you know
you're a good man you only saved your hand from a fate worse than death
and in the same breath you apologize for leaving a trail
who cares if you're up or down you're playing that clown all around town
who cares if you're right or wrong you're taking too long to sing that old song
when Saturday comes don't mind will start a new line
you leave the streets you leave alone
you’ve just been gone for a long time we thought you should know
you’re a good man you only saved your hand from a fate worse than death
and in the same breath you apologize for leaving a trail
who cares if you’re up or down you’re playing that clown all around town
who cares if you’re right or wrong you’re taking too long to sing that old song
when Saturday comes don’t mind will start a
and if it’s all blessed I would it cost you less paid to be best
you’re walking around shantytowns with that old badge on your chest
the west will keep expanding or the long road ever demanding no questions to say:
you were a part of the history we made that day
Track Name: the Stickman
It was a heavy load that you carried back home
let the open arms of a winter stream carry you away
with diamonds surrounding all you fall down
and floating behind you all the branches you mind
for throwing on the fire the crackling and popping wet wood
with embers on your mind you’re doing with a little boy should
you knew you’d raise the ire of the cackling old hag of the woods
the city flipped a switch, put a match on your soul
now you strike it up for burning wood instead of coal
come to find resting space among rock and rapids
under broken bridge and snow no one will find
gathering branches block our view and the beavers make a dam of you
maybe when summer rolls around I’ll light a punk and burn your coffin down
for throwing on the fire the crackling and popping wet wood
with embers on your mind you’re doing with a little boy should
you knew you to raise the ire of the cackling old hag of the woods
Track Name: On Weird Lake
Watching a leaning hand drain off a bleeding heart
We found a way to be weird
The word liked you the waiter, too
Now that you’re left alive you’ve got a special friend
Who’s got a way to be free
The men like you the callous-mitted talisman
The lake it was so weird
Thawed out nearly twice a year
Oh the night so stupid so show me how you move
But don’t fuck around out in the dark
You could be happier living beyond the pale
You could be happier living a lark
You can’t get serious here in the dawning age
we found a way to be wild