For Simon Joyner's tenth proper album, he's joined by his working Omaha band, the Fallen Men. What they've created is a dark, rock-and-roll, beginning or ending of an era, seven leaf catalogue of people (skeletons) and their troubles (blues). Sounding like Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground, Dylan with the Band (or is it Neil Young and Crazy Horse?), and Sister Lovers damaged Big Star, this is unlike any other Simon Joyner record.
The song cycle begins with a cobblestone street inviting a man in an open window to splash the bricks below, to the cadence of It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), and ends with a man walking down the street waiting for the rain to wash him clean. In between is all the news fit to sing. Joyner knows it takes a worried man to sing a worried song and the songs here are certainly worried, peopled by bruised lives, but make no mistake, this is not hopeless music
The early 90’s lo-fi explosion coincided with and was precipitated by the emergence of hundreds of small independent tape labels, many of which onlyexisted long enough to release one compilation. It was during this heyday that Simon Joyner contributed some of his finest material to various intrinsicallylimited edition releases. Beautiful Losers: Singles and Compilation Tracks 1994-1999 collects all such compilation appearances and the few singlesmade during these years, including the perennial favorite “One for the Catholic Girls” and “Burn Rubber”, recently covered by Bright Eyes.This was such a prolific period for Joyner that he usually contributed his best songs of the moment to whoever requested a track, instead of reservingthem for his proper albums. You’ll find here varying degrees of sound quality and various approaches to songs, from solo acoustic to full band, but whatties the collection together is the strength of the material. This isn’t filler. The same themes that haunt his large scale work are explored here: death, love,the politics of time. Fans of Joyner’s albums can now stop searching for the impossible to find cassettes and out of print 7” records.We’ve compiledeverything here, even the songs Simon would rather forget. For those unfamiliar with Simon Joyner’s music, this compilation is a good place to start as itserves in the same capacity as the original compilations and 7” records, to introduce the ambivalent audience to the ambitious songwriter.
Room Temperature was recorded in the winter of 1992 in a small room above a carpet store in Omaha, Nebraska, with two microphones and a cassette four-track recorder. Despite being his second full-length release, this was Simon Joyner’s first fully realized album, the one that first caught the interest of British DJ John Peel, who played it so often he single-handedly created a European audience for the Midwest singer-songwriter. Populated with sometimes harrowing and desperate stories of the complex workings of the human heart (in conflict with itself), the stark record features Joyner solo on all tracks. This marks the influential album’s first appearance on vinyl.
In over a decade of artistic exploration, Simon Joyner has never been content to make the same record twice. Lost With The Lights On is Joyner’s ninth album, and it is a sprawling document in the grand tradition of the post-Dylan singer-songwriter epic. It begins with the narrator declaring “I got sick in the rain on some holy day, dreaming of St. Teresa and I lost all your pills after they spilled out of the bottle into my possible futures.” Joyner is a benevolent guide and he wants to see us succeed, so he’s got to show us all the burned out basements and blown bridges and the traps along the way so we know how to survive them when they come for us, and they always come for us. By the end of the album, the narrator of “Forgotten Blues” can’t see out his window, he can only see his reflection in it. Simon Joyner was born in New Orleans and ended up some time later in Omaha, Nebraska where he has lived for the last two decades, writing and making music. He is an influential local hero with a devoted international following. “Simon Joyner, in one huge, gorgeous gesture, singledhandedly takes American song into his hands and reshapes it into a previously unimaginable creature, a gorgeous thing that lives and breathes on the floor in front of your stereo speakers, and that has eyes into which you can and will look for hours on end, seeing in them things you always wanted to see but had never had the courage to look at directly.” - John Darnielle, Puncture