Portraits

by Pale People

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about

Pale People's second album was recorded in a basement. The band—a "Broadway punk" group, from a small city where bar bands rule—set up underground, guitar amp across the hall facing stairs, producers staring over a mess of electronics, trombone and toy piano ready by the wall, band sweaty and manic, beginning, with gusto, to make an honest-to-Jesus concept album. An album of strange and eccentric characters, framed and mounted.

An elderly, demented preacher, for instance. A Tetris prodigy. A young pretty seeker of reality-TV glory. A dead mother; a living father; a bully, fate unknown. An acrobat who drives stupid men to madness. An old woman, dying alone. A young woman, dying alone.

The band—three troubled music-students—told these stories in many languages: punk, chamber jazz, loony prog, midnight cabaret. They inflated their music with all the frustrated passion granted the children of "America's Rape Capital" (Missoula, Montana). No music from that place has ever sounded like this. No characters ever anywhere given a voice like this.

From lamplight, from wheelchair, from happy-pills and beer, from the other side of the river, out from the underground and into your soft living head. Pale People present: Portraits.

credits

released March 24, 2017

MACK GILCREST Piano, Vocals
KURT SKRIVSETH Bass, Guitar
BRIAN TREMPER Drums
Additional percussion and insane announcer on "Josephine" by Brian Tremper
Additional violin, accordion, trombone effects on "Josephine" by Mack Gilcrest
Lyrics by Mack Gilcrest I Music by Pale People
Engineered by Jon Filkins at RedBall Recording Studios - Missoula, MT | Produced by Jake Whitecar
Mixed by Jake Whitecar and Jon Filkins at Orangutan Sound - Missoula, MT
Mastered by Jason Suko at South Sound Sound - Seattle
Copyright © 2017 Pale People Music I Cover artwork by Rachel Chansler
palepeoplemusic.com

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about

Pale People Missoula, montana

Led by Mack Gilcrest (piano, vocals), Pale People's songs range from soft confessionals to howling rants about the lonely and insane. Kurt Skrivseth (bass, guitar) brings a commanding slap-bass style reminiscent of Rush and the Chili Peppers. Austin Graef (drums, percussion) is a jazz drummer who prefers to rock and refuses to waltz.
Listening to Pale People is cheaper than therapy.
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Track Name: Mitchell
The robots come to kill me summer 2003
I heard all about it from you that year
I was ten years old and stupid—you were a smart thirteen
In the backyard of Grandma's house—where Grandma couldn't hear—

You told me special things about your real self
And the secret army that you'd built
Who'd kill my mom and dad and everyone I loved
If I revealed the secrets that you'd spilt

Chorus
Every night I lay down quiet and cold
Ever day a new apocalypse—behold
The way each school day unfolds
The distant future blaze foretold
So nothing changes when I'm old
Nothing changes when I'm old

You were pudgy perfect teenage genius Mitchell Blake
Just barely cool enough to make Fat Kid weep
You showed me certain kinds of pain I might mistake
For quiet dreams and lonesome screams and sickening sleep

The robots come to kill me on a gorgeous day
The grown-ups all eat lemon bars inside
They hold each others' gazes and make conversation
And you hurt me like kids do all the time

And oh—I keep you hidden ten years down the line
And everyone who knows me knows that I'm not fine...

Chorus
Track Name: Debra
When
I was a little boy
You kept a secret soul
You sought illicit joy
Oh, Mother—

I
Hid when you battled him
Angry passivity
Self-conscious victimhood
Waste another

Year—
Grasping the burning iron
Teach me how to shrink from him
Teach me how to be a liar
Hide yourself

Well—
Screwing your brains away
Flagrant disloyalty
Come clean
When the silence starts to smell

When
I was an older boy
You left me emptiness
Left us to be destroyed
Motherless

All—
Hot clammy summer days
Let's disappear this way
Howling like dogs
At the foot of the

Wall—
I'll revisit your history
Discover your crimes
Tear all your mysteries
Asunder

You
Never felt beautiful
Never felt good inside
Doubted that you'd
Ever been a good mother

Oh—
Your body spreads open
Lonely and bloated
Bored and badly broken

When
I was growing up
I felt the undertow
Fragile—prone to choking up
Little white

Lies—
Hungry for secrecy
Utterly without decency
Shameful experiments
Between my

Thighs—
We both live our little lives
Barely coming up for breath
Mother says no one
Can be trusted—

She
Fears that I'll go insane
Families are all the same
No one ever
Tells the truth 'til they get busted

Oh—
Your body spreads open
Lonely and bloated
Lovely and clean
Voice as milky and silky as cream

When
I dreamed of evil things
Sickness and violence
Coming up crying in the morning

You
Held me very very very tight—
You set my head aright—
Was as if you'd
Never heard of performing
Track Name: Jason
Begin with a tower of orange L-blocks
Stack the yellow squares in the corner
Leave no vacant space
And when the blue line arrives
For Christ's sake, don't leave it upright
You've never been readier to fight
And they're never gonna take your place

You are Jason—your name is legend
You reign quietly supreme
You were champion as a child
Though your mom thought you looked dead
And though she scratched you 'til you bled
Nobody really gets the things in your head
Nobody understands your smile

Chorus
Novices come seeking Jason
Winning comes easy when you're Jason
See the pretty colors falling adjacently
The young ones genuflect before Jason
He makes their lives amazing
Gracious Jason's nascent agency
Will make your children glorious as he

You run your glorious campaign from your basement
The blocks are falling—features crawling—
Whole lines disappeared from sight
It means more to you than life
More than food and sleep and wife
Put on your crown—raise your knife
The children cheer for you tonight

Chorus
Track Name: Annabelle
Here she comes with great ambition
Scurrying like a rat to the stage
Here she comes with the kind of discipline
Quite atypical for a girl of her age

Here she comes—and she's bringing her mother
Fat and brooding and dripping with sweat
Fraught with worry, she's holding her daughter
Very very tightly at the edge of the set

Chorus
Annabelle
Take one
With your ribbons and lace you come
Annabelle
Take two
Poor little girl—all the world's watching you

Here she comes with her family all made up
Poor and ignorant and humble
Here's the camera—start the performance
Young and very cute and prone to stumble

Something like this makes for good television
Good for an evil kind of laughter
Here comes Annabelle—there she goes smiling
Here comes the cameraman rolling on after

Chorus

Ten years old—she's been
Heavily scripted and
Blown apart by the
Highbrow heart of the
Panting public—they're
Clawing out for her—they're
Screaming for her—
They just adore her!

In the aquarium, swim lazy circles
Swim past the glass as the passers-by gaze
Swim blithely, cavorting and carefree
'Til the witnesses all turn away

Chorus

Annabelle
Take one
With your ribbons and lace you come
Annabelle
Take two
Poor little girl, we'll never get tired of you
Track Name: Carol
Is Santa coming?
Is Santa coming?
I've weighted eighty-six years

And is it snowing?
Will it be snowing
When Santa gets here?

There have been strangers
Can you imagine—strangers!
They watch me wet the bed

And how they worry
I think I see them worry
But maybe it's my head

I see the old house
The wood is shining
My mother lives here

The goats need milking
The world is shining
I'm holding it near

I'm licking my lips
My eyes are milky
There's humming in my ear

Is Santa coming?
Will it be snowing
When I disappear?

I think it's raining
The window's murky
The night is blue

Could it be raining?
Rain on Christmas?
That won't do...
Track Name: Josephine
Come see the amazing Josephine
Come watch her eat the flying machine
She'll choke it down for your amusement
Sinew, bone, and flesh abused and
Polished by the metal nice and clean

Come see the amazing Josie fly
If you're a good boy we'll let you try
Come see her death-defying leaps
As faceless Death toward her creeps
And waits—but Josephine will never die

Choking down a plane—swallowing a sword—
Fill your mouth with gasoline—make a fire-stream—
Breathing out flame in the ring
Wrestling a bear—at the county fair—
Straddling a mare—in a chair--in the air—
And you should hear her sing
(And you should hear her sing)
Josephine can do anything!

Come see the amazing Josephine
She'll make your living world a dream
And heaving up your mighty girth
She'll liberate you from the earth
And raise you above her 'til you can't be seen

The amazing Josie walks the wire
She'll throw you winks across the fire
She'll make you shiver in your jeans
And swell to bursting at the seams—
You're just the kind of boy she'd inspire

Josephine goes tumbling
Now you're stumbling
Fingers fumbling for her
Josie's whirling
Wires unfurling
Fingers curled, you're hurling toward her

Aiming for capture
Eyes set in rapture
If any other dapper chap sure of his stature
Tried to catch her, she would fracture him
But yours is strong skin

Plummet through the air—Josie's out of reach—
Falling with a certain style—let me see you smile—
Everything ends in the ring
People on their feet—everything is sweet—
Nothing but a lump of meat—heavy with defeat—
Open your lips and sing
(Open your lips and sing)
Josephine is everything!

Come see the amazing Josephine
Come watch her shake the tambourine
Breathe quietly and close your eyes
And listen to her as she flies
It comforts you as you depart the scene
Track Name: Steven
Hello, Steven—good day, Steven—
Are you playing fair?
I see your congregation's left—
You've worn them down with prayer
Every day you curse the black man
And the Jews and queers and freaks
The good Lord speaks
And you listen with tears on your cheeks

Hello, Steven—good day, Steve—
Your church is set aflame
Though you hate them, won't you hear them—
Can't you bless them all the same?
You are righteous—you are elderly—
You beat your children blue
Before they knew
That the good Lord never lived in you

Hello, Steven—bless you—
Let me kiss your ragged cross
The war is over—and I guess you miss
The people that you've lost
How they hated when you raved and screamed
And spoke to them in tongues
At the top of your lungs—
He'll damn them when His kingdom comes

Hello Steven—are you sad?—
I swear you're looking tired
It's not easy when you hate so hard
And when they fight with fire
Heaven help you—Jesus save you—
Everyone who knows your name
Knows you're in pain
And the world needs you to die in shame

Oh—and it's no wonder you can't move
Oh—and you've got nothing left to prove
Oh—the Lord's too hateful to be true
Steven—it's no wonder that He never loved you

Hello, Steven—good day, Steve—
I'll pray for you, I guess
You're sick in the head—your end is nigh—
Perhaps you should confess
You've hurt them smiling—hurt them badly—
And I guess they've hurt you back
But it's hard to track
Your mind is molten and your tongue is black

Hello, Steven—good day, Steven—
Everything is fine
You're an old man, growing weaker—
You can barely count to nine
Everybody dies a hard death
Everyone knows it's your time
Everything is fine
Keep waiting and there might be a sign...
Track Name: Lee
When you go to bed and lights extinguish
(When you go to bed and lights extinguish)
When you're all tucked in—watch the world vanish—
(When you're all tucked in—watch the world vanish—)
Evil thoughts come and play around in your skull

When your body's tense and perspiring
(When your body's tense and perspiring)
When you're left alone with hateful things
(When you're all alone with evil things)
You've never known your mind could be so full

Go to sleep
Darling Lee
Hush—rest—
Feel me

When you go to bed and lights extinguish
(When you go to bed and lights extinguish)
When the thin nails pound in your flesh
(When the thin nails pound in your flesh)
You've never known an appetite so cruel

When you close your eyes and feel your thoughts dancing
(When you close your eyes and feel your thoughts dancing)
When they make your life sick and rancid
(When they make your world sick and rancid)
You've surrendered to their ugly rule

Can't you feel better?
Don't you feel better?
Won't you feel better?
Don't you feel better?

Hop in the shredder
Ceaseless endeavor
Lonely together
No one gets better
No one gets better

Go to sleep
Darling Lee
Hush—rest—
Feel me
Forget such things
That make you grieve
Give me your lips
And speak
Track Name: David
Midnight—David listens
Dad's out beating Mother senseless
David holds his sister
Very close—poor defenseless

Children grow up quick in Cleveland
David's keeping his odds even
Readin'—turning towards
Freedom—now Daddy's leavin'

Drunk—dead—David fourteen
Getting tall and growing smarter
Fighting—speak fast and bright as
Lightning—striking down stepfather

Raging deep in his guts
He exits—the doorway shuts
He turns—the sky is full of crazy
Suns—Dave cuts and runs

Chorus
Charlie's in the dirt and
Barbara's bleeding badly
Debbie makes you hurt from
Years of loving madly
And when Mackenzie comes
Dave holds him—David hums


Evening—Mom and Dad are screaming
I hold my arm around my sister
Someday, they'll work this through—
He'll kiss her—bandage every blister—

Fix her—she's badly broken—
Full of secret parts she's always
Hated—it's all too much for
David—in her dark hallways

He sinks—she is drowning
I am somewhere Mom and Dad can't
See me—where neither one can
Free me—still and sad and

David tries to keep us living
Tries to give and keep on giving
Everything that's his, I will
Inherit—and we will share it

Growing up—becoming men
Be around to see it when
Everything that happened happens again
And it happens again

Morning—we approach each other
Dad's been meditating—Mother's
Dead—a girl's sleeping in my
Bed—we're growing old—another

Morning, like any other morning,
Brings us to the kitchen cooking
Corn—we're newly
Born—David's looking

Over at the snowflakes falling
Piling up behind the garden
Wall—we stand there as they
Fall—icicles harden

Winter gleaming white and lovely
Every single part of me
Sings—for every one of these
Things—that the morning brings

Chorus
Track Name: Joyce
The channel flickers and it lights the room
The lovely lady Joyce inspects her face
The end of days approaching soon

The way she looks, I think she's had enough
Of TV murmurs and barren space
The way she thinks, I doubt she's ever known grace

Over the years she learns to keep them out
The dirty people who disfigure her
Lecherous—barbaric—devout

Her beauty dulls each day she stays inside
It's not the kind of beauty she'd prefer
But she's forgotten what her choices were

Joyce dies gasping today
Joyce rests inside her pretty skin
The channel flickers and it lights her way

The years erode her and the quiet stays
The sofa buries her when she caves in
The channel flickers and her show begins

Can you remember when you saw her last?
And if you could see her now, what would you ask?
And if you saw her rot as years go past—
What then, friend?

Can you describe what she looked like then—
When she retreated to begin again?
And if she loved her perfect ugly end—
What then?