"Hell" and back again: Tom Maxwell's tale (and new LP) | Music

"Hell" and back again: Tom Maxwell's tale (and new LP)

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Like a vintage shirt from the back of the closet, Tom Maxwell has returned to the rotation, and it's a good look. On Monday, the former Squirrel Nut Zipper announced the impending release of a new album and book. After an eleven-year recording hiatus, it’s his second album in three years.

Maxwell’s fronting a new band featuring members of Lost in the Trees and The Old Ceremony, including Mark Simonsen, James Wallace, FJ Ventre and Evans Nicholson. They back him on the forthcoming self-titled Tom Maxwell & the Minor Drag. It’s highlighted by a guest duet with Ani DiFranco on “Roll With It,” which recently premiered on USA Today’s website.

The track’s Dixieland swing will be familiar to Zippers’ fans, though you shouldn’t pigeonhole Maxwell. His last album, 2011’s powerful Kingdom Come, surveyed a variety of styles, from punchy piano-rock (“Why I Smoke”) to shadowy Nick Cave-ish noir (“So High”) and elegant chamber pop (“Fuck It”). The new album was recorded in New Orleans with producer Mike Napolitano (The Twilight Singers, Galactic), who produced Maxwell’s 2000 post-Zippers debut, Samsara, too.

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The book, titled Hell: My Life In The Squirrel Nut Zippers, focuses on the years leading up to his 1999 departure from the band. Maxwell has said he wanted to focus on the wild and woolly early days, when they were conceived as a merry pirate band—that is, before success and money got involved. It builds to the point when everything begins to change. He leaves off there, figuring everyone knows enough about the band's contentious demise.

The book and CD will receive simultaneous release on August 26th. You can pre-order both, and even get signed copies from Maxwell’s website.


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