American singer-songwriter Brice Randall Bickford is best known for performing country-inflected narrative pop songs under the name The Strugglers in the 2000’s. Bickford released four LPs as The Strugglers, touring Europe and the U.S. regularly. His skill as a songwriter has earned wide recognition from influential musicians and critics alike. Pitchfork has described his technique as “tracing a single thought or sketching a single image throughout the winding course of several bars, building suspense and making you wait patiently for the pay-off”.
On February 24, 2017, Austin-based label Keeled Scales will release Bickford’s newest album Paro—the second LP issued under his own name after 2011’s eponymous debut. For this new album, Bickford has again teamed up with producer Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats, Spoon, Superchunk) and arranger/keyboardist Alex Lazara (The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers). Iconic guitarist Ash Bowie (Polvo) contributed heavily to the album as well.
Paro, which takes its name from the term for “labor strike” commonly used in Latin America, paints a portrait of modern human society viewed from 30,000 feet. The eight-track song cycle examines, among other things, the wicked problems humans unwittingly tilled into civilization 10,000 years ago when we adopted agriculture and, as a result, systems of government and control.
With producer Scott Solter, Bickford has clothed his heady narratives, and his own burnished baritone, in arrangements that recall the hi-fi art rock of the 1980's (Roxy Music, Talk Talk, David Sylvian). With bell-clear production as gorgeously rendered as the songs themselves, Paro is Bickford’s most assured and refined artistic statement to date.
Read a Q&A about the album concept and Bickford’s history as a North Carolina musician here. theartscenter-blog.tumblr.com/post/147596811873/artist-dialogue