Music News & Reviews

February 5, 2014

American Aquarium making North Myrtle Beach one of its many tour stops

It’s easy to understand why the members of American Aquarium feel at home on the road.

It’s easy to understand why the members of American Aquarium feel at home on the road.

The Raleigh-based country-rock quintet, promoting its seventh CD, “Burn.Flicker.Die,” will play its second concert in North Myrtle Beach since New Year’s Eve, this time at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Pirate’s Cove Bar & Grill.

Calling last Saturday while riding on the road after a concert the previous night in Oklahoma City to a show in Oxford, Miss., BJ Barham, having just awakened “somewhere in Arkansas,” spoke about the 11 songs that make up the latest album. Songs such as “Cape Fear River,” “Abe Lincoln” and “Jacksonville,” might strike listeners as a journey, the way albums intend, with lots of stops and memories on the road.

“It’s the best album we’ve put out,” Barham said.

Asked if finding that right kind of timing and tempo in writing and blending songs for a CD has built up through the years, he said “definitely.”

American Aquarium narrowed down many songs down to the 11 for “Burn.Flicker.Die.”

“In every song, no matter how different the style is,” he said, “the themes stay pretty much the same. It’s an almost all-relatable album.”

With plans to begin work on the next CD in the studio later this spring, Barham said the genesis of ideas for that forthcoming project arose “almost immediately after” completing “Burn.Flicker.Die.”

Looking back at seven works in all, including “Live in Raleigh,” Barham said listening to the records provides “a chronological count of my life.”

“The stories and records keep coming,” he said. “It’ll be weird to look back when I’m 50 and see these really intimate stories from when I was 21-23 and 23-25. It’ll be fun to see how much we’ve grown into as a band, and growth as writers.”

Barham said being able to reflect years later at the music with “documented evidence of your growth,” it’s “one of the few perks of being a musician.” Maybe that’s easier than say, for a mechanic, to sit back and remember all the cars on which he enjoyed working, Barham said.

Since carrying out the latest edition of the annual tradition of opening for Corey Smith at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, American Aquarium has played the West Coast and ventured north with “a lot of college shows in Idaho and Montana,” Barham said.

“It was gorgeous going through the Rocky Mountains in January and seeing all these snowy mountains pass us,” he said.

He and the bandmates were set for a return home this past Sunday afternoon, in time for the Super Bowl, and a few days off before heading to Asheville, N.C., to perform this Friday night, and Pirate’s Cove on Saturday.

“We’ll be playing three or four new songs,” Barham said, “so get there early.”

American Aquarium will finish February with some Midwest dates and spending much of March hitting towns across Texas. The group also will return to Europe to October.

“Our lives are planned out pretty far in advance,” said Barham, always eager to have fun dining out. “I try to find whatever the best local restaurant is to try out.”

Speaking on the eve of the Super Bowl and declaring the team for which he would root, Barham said Seattle and brought up the quarterback who spent three years helping lead the N.C. State University Wolfpack in Raleigh before transferring to the University of Wisconsin for his senior year in 2011.

“I’m pulling for Russell Wilson,” he said.

The Seahawks made music for Barham on Sunday night.

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