Artwork by Samuel Locke Ward

The insanely prolific Iowa City lo-fi wizard Samuel Locke Ward is back with more new music–only his first studio release of 2011. The slab in question is a split 7″ EP with ex-Moldy Peach Toby Goodshank released by Omaha’s Slumber Party Records and CHTHONIC RECORDS in Salt Lake City.
It’s a match made in heaven for lovers of eccentric pop geniuses. Locke Ward is in fine form with a 50-second blast of scuzzy power-pop of “Nothing For Me,” and the swaggering, ringmaster blast of “Take it to the Top.” But the real winner is  EP-standout “Bliss Blue Skies.” It’s one of Sam’s most fully arranged and ornate tunes, featuring the lilting violin of Skye Carrasco and a lil’ sax solo from Pete Balestrieri–both add punch to the other tracks on Locke Ward’s side too. It’s also deceptively dark, almost horrifying, for such a delicate, almost childlike pop tune. Check out “Bliss Blue Skies” streaming below.

Goodshank’s side is a bit more stylistically consistent, ambling along on sunny vibes and warmly embracing his flinty, lo-fi, folk vocals. The a capella opener, “Beach” is comprised of a chorus of Goodshanks and could have been a twisted b-side to the Beach Boys’ later records (think Surf’s Up); the bonfire feel doesn’t let up. The beautiful closer, “Virgo Song,” is a beach blanket ballad full of party images with a hint of malaise and mourning. It’s a dirge for the end of summer, just in time for the snow to melt away, and it’s streaming below.

You can score your copy of the freshly pressed 7″ here (which will include a complimentary digital download). You can stream the other four cuts on Toby Goodshank’s bandcamp site or Sam’s bandcamp page.

You can also catch Sam on the road. In March he has a few dates as a member of Miracles of God and in April he embarks on tour with Josh Meade a/k/a Manhorse 3 The Meatbag:

Miracles of God dates:
3/11: Iowa City, IA – The Blue Moose Taphouse w/ Ed Gray & Wolf Wars
3/12: Omaha, NE – Slowdown w/ Simon Joyner, Gus & Call, Well Aimed Arrows
3/18: Dubuque, IA – The Lift w/ Old Panther

SLW vs. Manhorse 3 The Meatbag: Spring Tour:

4/4: Chicago, IL – The Ball Hall w/ Squish, Nones, & Radar Eyes
4/5: Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class w/ All Dinosaurs
4/6: Pittsburgh, PA – Howlers w/ Weird Paul
4/7: Brooklyn, NY – Cake Shop w/ Joe Jack Talcum, Toby Goodshank & Xaddax
4/8: Philadelphia, PA – Connie’s Ric Rac w/ Joe Jack Talcum & 25 Cromwell St.
4/9: Columbus, OH – The Tree House w/ Bicentennial Bear
4/10: Nashville, TN – Springwater Lounge w/ R Stevie Moore
4/12: St. Louis, MO – Floating Laboratories w/ Alexis Gideon & Eric Hall
4/13: Iowa City, IA – The Yacht Club