Sweet Undertow announces Skeletone Machine, an eclectic blues-based album featuring the guitar stylings of frontman Eddy Undertow, to be released on September 16 via Mother West.
From the Chicago area, Eddy was raised on a steady diet of vintage blues records such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Magic Sam, and John Lee Hooker – as well as the local punk scene. Like Johnny Cash, he has been everywhere. He’s been a wildland firefighter, and has wandered Asia and Europe with a guitar as his only constant companion. He’s played in Crimean bars and in an orphanage in now war-ravaged Ukraine.
He’s taken the long way, so to speak, to San Francisco where he has been fulfilling his lifelong yearning since 2016. The place he had traveled for his grandfather’s funeral as a child “is crazy still, but it’s beautiful,” he says. Eddy’s early, lonely days in the Bay Area birthed what would become Sweet Undertow, including the band’s evocative name.
Eddy honed his creations in a spartan cell in a former convent, sharing them with musician neighbors and future bandmates. Sweet Undertow – bassist John “Big Bottom” Eckstrom, guitarist Jim Semitekol, and drummer Dave Tavel – started landing gigs citywide and soon, by popular demand, commanding headlining slots.
Skeletone Machine operates on multiple layers and levels. Eddy doesn’t miss any of life’s banalities; his songwriting, brimming with memory and metaphor, proves cinematic. He tells ABS of “Rain Catch Flame”:
A tiny cabin: she slept on a thick fur rug in front of a cast-iron stove, flames through the glass door licking wood. It was past midnight. I was awake, beside her, watching the rain. November is the perfect month in Oregon: darker, wetter, more alive.
I watched the fire and, through the window, the rain in the fir trees, and I watched her sleep and thought: You make the rain catch flame.
I imagined the end of days when flame rains down. And I imagined spinning together as the storm of flame rolled into the cities. I imagined her as a storm of flame that had rolled into my life. Her sleeping body, curled on the rug. You make the rain catch flame.
Skeletone Machine was recorded at the all-analog studio of producer John Vanderslice (Death Cab for Cutie, Deerhoof, Spoon) and finished the day before the 2020 lockdown.