People who hate holiday music don’t always do so because of religious differences or its implicit spirituality. The corniness of the consumerist push, and the lack of meaning beyond pleasure in gifts exchanged can provoke that response.
That said, Lee Bozeman’s EP The Majesty Of The Flesh has been on my stereo the past few days, and it sounds absolutely perfect for a snowy, family-filled season. It came out on July 14, which was a little early in the year for its velvety, sensuous charms. The quiet response to it, save for coverage at NPR, is almost criminal. It could be that it is just too lush, open-hearted, and intelligent for the average listener. Plus, with all the hallelujahs and iconic imagery, it may have been too much for many to take in the middle of summer.
Lee Bozeman was the main lead writer, singer, and recording tech of the Atlanta band Luxury for many years, mesmerizing in way that made them that was one of the very best things the label Tooth & Nail ever offered. Combining sonorous, melodic vocals with biting, crushing alternative hard rock, made by four seriously well-dressed dudes in mod clothes who played with a monks’ intensity, there was nothing quite like Luxury.
They all almost died in a van crash mid-decade, and that setback plus their unusual sound and elevation from the T&N niche kept them from being as huge as many people (such as Lars Gotrich at NPR) thought they could be. The band miraculously recovered from their injuries and kept on making music (!), but three of its members, including Bozeman, actually became Orthodox priests. A well-made movie about the sage, Parallel Love, is overdue for release.
Bozeman has released music through other bands through the years, but this EP is his first solo release, and it is a gorgeous debut, resplendent with songs about the aching tension of desire in a world that is also based in spirit. You don’t have to share Bozeman’s Orthodox faith to love his wickedly poetic use of alluring imagery, bitter puns, and devotion to strongly elegant tunes. His own beliefs seem to fuel his astonishing honesty, which is presented in lyrics like, "But some still call it making love / And some believe that's what it was / But when you're young, you love to f*** / When you're young, that's enough.”
The Majesty of the Flesh
was recorded in Austin, TX at Test Tube Audio. Taylor Muse (of Quiet Company) produced and Kevin Butler engineered. The tracks were mixed by Matt Goldman. It was released by Velvet Blue Music, a long-running Southern California record label known for supreme high quality underground rock, as fierce and swanky as Bozeman’s own skills. Orthodox Christians are not afraid of the aesthetic (in fact, their sects are swimming in them), or plumbing the depths of their own melancholy to find ontological connection, and a cutting, somber track like “Nice Touch” shows this. Don’t miss it, it’s a kisser and a killer.
The only criticism of this release to make is that it’s “just” an EP, which might explain why it was overlooked so much the past few months. That’s still hardly an excuse (the strong case for the Extended Play format can be made, especially when it’s stretched over twelve inches of sumptuous vinyl). For fans of sweeping, romantic dark pop on classic albums like The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead, you want to get started with Bozeman’s new work, even if it will leave you craving more songs than these four tracks..