The Red Thread
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The Red Thread

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The best kept secret in music


"selected quotes"

Expect the Red Thread's Tension Pins to influence busloads of lovelorn troubadours in the
years to come.
All Music Guide

4 out of 4 stars
Irish Times

...subtle use of Americana influences and concise, precise musicianship...sophisticated and
unafraid of exploring pop’s dark side...

'Jason Red Thread' Lakis has abandoned his more monochrome Half Film persona and taken
solace in sombre, tenderly weather-beaten West Coast rock. A countrified cover of Bad Brains'
Sailing, however confirms there's more to Lakis than a simple case of the blues.

An early contender for jangly melancholic rainy-day-in-the-bay-area-album of the year.
The Independent

5 out of 5 stars
New Watch recalls The Shins' darker moments whereas the downright misery of Five Below is simply lush - as is the Tindersticks-esque The dinner party. This is a great album and could only be made better if you saw everything in Super-8 and lived in a permanent state of winter and depression.

Wurlitzers, vibes and Lakis' winning way with pedal-steel create a melancholy magnetism
that is hard to ignore.

These 11 songs harbor a dreamlike quality that enables the vilified notions of soft rock to
coalesce with indie aesthetics and inklings of countrified pop. Incredible songwriting and
unpretentious instrumental prowess. Killer.
Alibi - various

"Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway"

If there is a circumstance in ordinary life that isn't enhanced by this record, I haven't found it. Jason Lakis' Bay Area art project is ingeniously subtle, an indie-trimmed exercise in pleasant sound. Amalgamating just enough hints of the familiar to make you feel at home—a few metal references, a hint of lounge, some old-fashioned soft rock—Lakis and his accomplices fashion music at once hip and accesible, gentle and dark. Guitars and inventive bass parts drive these sensitively jazzy, rhythmically loping tracks, but pedal steel and organ give them color. "Kindling Forts" features a hint of Hawaiian allure; an acoustic guitar carries "A Distance", a musing on those occasions when absence does not make the heart grow fonder; "Sleepwalker" threatens a bit of country before evolving into something like a '70s pop ballad. Throughout, Lakis' vocals are worn-in pretty with a patina of grit. - No Depression

"Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway"

With their third LP, Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway, the Red Thread continue their
march away from the languid Americana of their debut, After the Last, and join other altcountry
bands in shedding that moniker once and for all. Opener “Long Arm” flirts with a
lite Queens of the Stone Age-type riff, and “Ship in the Attic” could be a Foo Fighters ballad.
But don’t pack away that pedal steel just yet: The instrument’s still a prominent, lulling force
on tracks like “Kindling Forts” and “Birds in the Subway,” bringing as much sadness as
solace. The wordless and delicate “Owl Painting” closes the album with a final sigh. - Harp

"Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway"

The Red Thread’s Jason Lakis has a knack for dreamy melodies, emotive vocals and
subtle indie rock-derived guitar lines that puts his trio in a league of its own. The
weeping,atmospheric riffs that become the Hawaiian-vibing “Kindling Forts,” for instance,
sound like a collaboration between Spoon and Jack Johnson. Gone are the Red House
Painters-fixated songs that fueled Tension Pins, replaced by airy, memorable tunes like
“Long Arm” and “A Distance”. Lakis’ lilting, lullaby-like numbers like “Sleepwalker” and
“Treasure Island” -- realized with bandmates Mike Schmiedt and Dan Martin -- are less
slowcore than indie rock-meets-easy listening, but after a hard day a cold beer and Ship In
The Attic, Birds In The Subway are perfect companions. - All Music Guide

"Tension Pins"

Following the demise of indie rock band Half Film, singer Jason Lakis twanged up his tone
a bit and formed San Francisco’s Red Thread. Fusing wistful Americana with melancholy
musings, the Red Thread’s sound sits well between any Red House Painters album and
that second Beachwood Sparks record, Once We Were Trees. Unlike many of their corn-fed
contemporaries, the Red Thread’s Lakis doesn’t affect any nasal drawls to give his music
its sweeping pastoral feel. Slowed tempos, hushed harmonies and long, weepy slide guitar
compliment what often sounds like a young man inspired by both Ry Cooder’s Boomer’s
Story and the very first Mojave 3 album.
Apparently, there’s an inexhaustible well from which minor chords are drawn and
melancholic melodies are unearthed. The Red Thread’s Jason Lakis has tapped in, as his
ensemble draws the tremolo-ed guitar counterpoints of Low into the somnambulent country
vibe of the U.K.’s Minibar without obviously copping either. Lakis steps things up from
time to time. “New Watch” sashays with Brit-pop cheek and pedal steel only to point up
just how much he sounds like -- no joke -- Steve Miller. “The Dinner Party” rolls past like an
errant Meat Puppets tumbleweed, its descending surf instrumental riff cutting through the
nervous shuffle. The upbeat tunes set up the acoustic numbers that are the real attraction.
“Map of the Moon” (a mere minute and a half) wastes nothing, while “Clear Runs Clear”
and the title track ends things with dramatic turbulence. - Rolling Stone

"Tension Pins"

Jason Lakis’ (a.k.a. The Red Thread) debut was built on understated pop
numbers that flirted with the broad, windswept soundscape tendencies of bands like
Lanterna and the folk-heartedness of the Idahos and Haydens of the music world. Tension
Pins doesn’t stray far from that elegant formula, but Lakis nonetheless sounds more
confident, more in-the-moment and startlingly more relevant with regard to both lyrical
content and compositional skill. These 11 songs harbor a dreamlike quality that enables the
vilified notions of soft rock to coalesce with indie aesthetics and inklings of countrified pop.
Incredible songwriting and unpretentious instrumental prowess. - Alibi

"Tension Pins"

You’ll most commonly find the Red Thread described as having a “West Coast”sound—in
other words, a laidback California cool. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area group’s second
album, Tension Pins, is a pretty mellow affair, but it’s also sophisticated and unafraid of
exploring pop’s dark side. The many folks who spent years lamenting the loss of American
Music Club will find much to love in the Red Thread, especially in the mournful voice of
singer Jason Lakis, who sounds especially like Mark Eitzel on “From The Divide.” The
band’s somber worldview is almost as dark as AMC’s, as well, but their subtle use of
Americana influences and concise, precise musicianship prevent Red Thread from being
a clone. The guitar playing on the instrumental “Postcards” is so nakedly emotional that
adding lyrics would take away from the effect. Like the quiet but intense guy who only
speaks when he has something important to say, Tension Pins requires patience and
attention—but the more you listen, the more wisdom it will offer. - CMJ

"After The Last"

Promising debut from Bay Area moodsmith Jason Lakis. Hailing from the same US stable as
My Morning Jacket, Hayden and Mark Kozelek, Lakis’ first solo work since splitting with San
Francisco’s Half Film is a weather-trodden waltz between the cracks of backwoods country
and indie rock. Aided by local band The Inspectors, there’s more than a passing resemblance
to Evan Dando’s slacker croon (the radical reworkdin of Bad Brains’ ‘Sailin On’), but the
tunes owe more to the cun-scorched desertscapes of Calexico, the crumpled allure of Elliott
Smith and Red House Painters at their most lugubrious. Wurlitzers, vibes and Lakis’
winning way with pedal-steel create a melancholy magnetism that is hard to ignore. - Uncut

"After The Last"

The romantic edge to After the Last comes off as cool and dry as a desert night, like drinking
a beer outside after the day’s heat rolls off, with next to nothing going on. Languidly moving
from one mid-tempo tune to the next, it’s an album that has no surprises and better yet, no
indulgences-- just a remarkably consistent debut showcasing tuneful
Jason Lakis (ex-Half Film) fronts this Oakland-based act, contributing vocals and guitar;
he formed the quartet with members of San Francisco’s The Inspectors. They clicked right
away, with rough guitar riffs and an impeccable rhythm section. Lakis’ languorous pedal
steel dominates every track it appears on, especially the opener “Spread Thin”, but never
detracts from how beautifully it blends with Daryle Goldbar’s guitar and Wurlitzer, nor how
smoothly it rides the crisp rhythm section.
Lakis also writes all the songs, which are as tasteful as the band’s sound: the easy melody
of “Spread Thin”, the riffs of “Subject to Change” and the series of great choruses all get
better with every listen. The only cover song-- Bad Brains’ “Sailin’ On”-- could have been
just a “punk meets country” novelty track, but the Red Thread perform it as naturally as if
they’d written it themselves; Lakis pairs it with the album’s only other rocker “All In” before
reverting to mid-tempo ballads. These guys are lovers, not fighters.
As might be expected, the record’s steady pace reveals its shortcomings. Even the engrossing
ballads are steady and distant; “Borrow and Spend” digs the deepest, even though it seems
to need more-- more gutbucket vocals, or another wrap-up verse. Song after song, Lakis plays
it cool, and it wouldn’t even be a problem if it didn’t highlight what’s wrong with Lakis as a
singer: we don’t get enough of him.
Lakis has a smooth, masculine croon with a languid delivery and a touch of husk, the sound
of a guy the men can drink with, and the women can giggle over. A random survey of nine
out of ten female listeners would like to hear more of him, and maybe check out his butt, yet
Lakis sits in the middle of the band rather than wearing his appeal like a pair of jeans. His
vocals hang back-- he keeps his delivery consistent, and his voice mixed too low.
That may explain why this is a solid but not striking debut. The band hits its stride right
away, and the songwriting is above average-- even the instrumental coda “Details”, which
could easily have sounded half-baked, flows perfectly to close out the record. Lakis and
company hit the mark again and again, but it seems all too easy. By album’s end you’re
already hoping they push into riskier territory the next time - Pitchfork

"After The Last"

4 stars-
‘Jason Red Thread’ Lakis has abandoned his more monochrome Half Film persona and
taken solace in sombre, tenderly weather-beaten West Coast rock. A countrified cover of Bad
Brains’ Sailing, however confirms there’s more to Lakis than a simple case of the blues. - MOJO


After The Last (LP) 2003
Tension Pins (LP) 2004
Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway (LP) 2005
(all on badman)
All albums on national, xm satellite, internet radio.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The idea of "the red thread" had been around for a few years, it just took a band break-up and a drunken New Years' Eve to put it into motion. Jason Lakis began writing after the band he was playing drums for, Half Film, disbanded. Half film had put out a couple records, toured Europe with Swell and ended up calling it quits around 1999. He made demos over the course of a summer and hadn't even thought about getting together a live band for the material until he slurred the idea to three old friends (and part-time bandmates) one new years eve. "The Inspectors," a jazzy/garagy combo were up for it. They re-recorded all Jason's songs as a full band. The product turned out to be After The Last, the band's debut on Badman Recording Co. A national tour followed, along with some great press, including positive reviews in Mojo, Uncut, and CMJ.

Becoming the creative force behind his own band was a significant change for Lakis. In his previous incarnation, he was merely the Ringo of the group. "One thing I love about playing drums is that you can sit back there, and if you know your parts, you'll be holding the rhythm and it's really fun," he says. "Sip your beer in between songs and you don't have to worry about the voice. But after I got out of Half Film, I slowly began singing again, and I was thinking, 'OK, maybe I'll do an instrumental band with just a little bit of singing, and then all of a sudden, all of these songs just kept coming and getting finished."

In 2004 the band put themselves back on the road with like-minded artists Neko Case and the underrated Bay Area band Swell. Positive tour press, and two strong albums lead to packed gigs in the Midwest and Southwest areas of the US.

The album expands on the sound of the previous two, in that it mixes more of the energy of their live shows. It also incorporates much of the spaghetti western, guitar-driven pop songs that make up most of their previous material. Jason recorded and mixed most of the album at his house (the petting zoo). This way, he had the time and resources to really shape the recording the way he'd always wanted. Subtle layers of guitars, Rhodes organ and pedal steel act as flotation devices. They also had the use of a great "pro" live room and studio at their disposal, which worked out perfectly for the more rocking, "live" songs.