A few weeks back, word came that indie label Infinity Cat Recordings, a driving force in local music for nearly two decades, was set to issue its final new release: the latest JEFF the Brotherhood single “Garbage Man.” Brothers Jamin and Jake Orrall, the duo at the core of JEFF, launched the label with their dad Robert Ellis Orrall in 2002. During iCat’s tenure, Robert Ellis Orrall — known to many as Bob the Fatherhood — helped guide the operation while he continued to develop his visual art. In April, Julia Martin Gallery opened his show The Kitchen, a sort of farewell to the Nashville art scene following a move back to his home state of Massachusetts.
With all the hubbub about the bands on the label, it got easy to forget that Orrall had a lengthy career as a musician, first as an artist in a power pop-ish, New Wave-y vein and later as a hit songwriter and producer on Music Row. He’s had an array of projects, like the pop outfit Monkey Bowl, but by and large they’ve taken a back seat. With iCat winding down and the pandemic keeping everything at a near-standstill for months, Orrall has returned to his roots, so to speak, making a new record with a slew of old Boston-area bandmates that looks back fondly on the iCat years.
467 Surf and Gun Club is named after the now-demolished house on Humphreys Street in Wedgewood-Houston that served as Infinity Cat’s headquarters for many years. It’s a fanciful take on the real-life communal milieu of the house, with the lines of fact smudged a bit to show the place the way it felt to him — Orrall imagines it as a kind of bar, with himself as the bartender. The lead single “Here In Our Backyard,” a wistful tune that lands somewhere between Brian Wilson and Todd Rundgren, sets the tone.
“ ‘Here In Our Backyard’ is all about the good times at 467 Humphreys Street,” Orrall writes in a note to the Scene, “where you could grab a BB gun off the wall and fire away at the tin cans out back. There were meats on the grill and beers on ice, and surfing vids ran on the old tube TV. … We were lucky to have it while it lasted.”
Today, we’re very pleased to premiere the music vid for the song, which was animated by longtime iCat collaborator Halle Ballard. Her hand-drawn characters do a little target practice, set off fireworks and generally enjoy each other’s company, as Orrall sings: “The beer is cold and the bonfire's hot / Nobody cares if you smoke ’em or not / Our own little world, that's what we got / Here in our backyard.”
Check it out above, and mark your calendar for Aug. 27, when the album’s due to be released — not via Infinity Cat, but through a subsidiary label called Fixation Records. (Perhaps not so coincidentally, the label shares a name with Orrall’s 1981 LP.) Keep an eye on his website for updates on the record.