The jack pine doesn’t yield its seed willingly. Seasons can come and go and years—even decades—can pass, and the seeds remain locked in the cones. There is only one catalyst for this unusual tree to reproduce: fire. As flames rise to the tree’s crown, the cones open, bringing forth the seeds of new life. It’s a striking image, one that formed the basis of “The Jack Pine,” a song that is representative of Hem’s extravagantly bittersweet five-years-in-the-making album, Departure and Farewell. It’s also a perfect summation of this unusual chapter in the band’s life, which started as a breakup before becoming a rebirth—a point lost on none of the members.
“I guess we could have called it Live at Various Theaters” says drummer Brian Rosenworcel, referencing the fact that the songs on the album were culled from many performances and not just one. “Actually, I wish we’d called it Live at Various Theaters. Is it too late to call it Live at Various Theaters?”
Electro-funk duo Chromeo formed in Montreal in the early 21st century, a project of former hip-hop producers Dave 1 and P-Thugg (news flash: not their given names). Dave handled guitars and vocals; P was the talkbox-wielding synth specialist. From the beginning, Chromeo made it clear that the name of their well-dressed game would be artful detachment, earnest songwriting, retro breakdowns, and gleaming plastic beats -- not serious intent or aggressive musical-regime change. The "Destination Overdrive" single appeared in late 2003, complete with the tingling B-side "Needy Girl" (a ringer for Yaz's "Situation") and a DFA remix; the She's in Control LP dropped from Vice in early February 2004. Chromeo issued two mixes, 2005's Un Joli Mix Pour Toi and 2006's Ce Soir, On Danse, while gigging and working on their second album.
Working as solo artists in Boston, the two members of the band, John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard, were introduced through a mutual friend. Dragonetti and Hazard formed a romantic and musical partnership, then took their show to Europe. The relationship lasted for four years, but ended in the fall of 2004 when the pair moved to L.A. After the break-up, both Hazard and Dragonetti continued writing songs, and because Hazard still recorded her music in Dragonetti's home studio, the pair quickly discovered the songs they had written were about each other and their sadness in having broken up. They decided to work on a few songs together and eventually got back together. The new songs were mastered for the couple as a wedding present, and those tracks eventually became their first album. Declare a New State!, The Submarines' first album was released in 2006 on the Nettwerk label.