Jerry Vessel paints a dark portrait of a doomed romance on his captivating single The Sisters Of Mercy — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The first single from the former Red House Painters bassist’s upcoming album Her Favourite Hitchcock Films, the intoxicating and highly atmospheric track is framed by Vessel’s stark vocals, booming percussion and bright, buoyant piano. Featuring some heavy personal storytelling, it’s primarily inspired by his relationship with obscure fashion designer Alexis O’Connell. Having known one another during their days in San Francisco, a new chapter of their time together would be rekindled in 2016, and come to an end in 2019. The Sisters of Mercy name-drops the band — along with other shared cultural touchstones — as a jumping-off point to describe a particularly dark period in their time together.
“Alexis used to play the Sisters of Mercy song Never Land all the time, and we both were listening to Leonard Cohen and Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality album, so much of the imagery from that period ended up in the lyrics,” Vessel says. “She was someone I knew for many years, and someone with whom I spent a significant amount of time. She had a very black sense of humour and a general attitude of irreverence, which I found very amusing and attractive.”
The nine-song Her Favourite Hitchcock Films is a departure from the guitar-based work of Vessel’s previous albums, focusing on piano, cello, violin, and an array of other real instruments as well as virtual and synthetic sounds. The album was produced and engineered by Bruce Kaphan (American Music Club), who also appears on piano, keyboards and electric guitars, creating soundscapes that provide spacious and empathetic structure for Vessel’s nostalgic lyrics. The music also includes Matt Brubeck on cello, Darol Anger on violin and Maeve Gilchrist on harp. The Sisters Of Mercy will be available digitally on Friday, Aug. 27 and the full album will follow in the fall via Cue For Makeup recordings.
During the summer of 1988, Vessel would attend a Replacements show in San Jose. It was at that show that he would find a weekly newspaper with an add seeking a bass player. Responding to the ad would lead to his auditioning for Red House Painters and moving to San Francisco. In 1992 the band would sign a deal with British label 4AD, releasing four studio albums, an EP, and tour the U.S., Canada, and Europe for the next decade. During his time residing in San Francisco (1989-2005), Vessel would play in other local bands like The Muons (as drummer) and the prog/indie band Six Eye Columbia.
It was also during this time that Vessel began to explore songwriting. By 2011, Vessel had returned to his hometown of Turlock, CA. In 2011, he released Forever the Moon, his first studio album as Heirlooms of August. In 2013, he released Down at the 5-Star, from which two songs were licensed for television, including the song Out Among My Flowers, which aired during an episode of Parenthood in 2014.