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Lift to Experience Returns

The best band in the whole damn land is coming back.
Lift to Experience
(Breanne Trammell)

There are a handful of albums that enjoy an almost mythical status in my mind. At the top of that list is Lift to Experience’s The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. A two-disc concept album about the end of the world with the band playing the role of prophets who make a deal with God to lead His people into the promised land — which is Texas, of course — The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is a sprawling psych-rock masterpiece full of soaring guitar crescendoes and lyrics that are by turns cheeky, sacrilegious, and deeply reverent.

But shortly after The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads was released, the band — Josh T. Pearson (guitars, vocals), Andy Young (drums), and Josh Browning (bass) — broke up. Pearson would reemerge in 2011 with Last of the Country Gentlemen, a stripped down album of heartbreak songs that was a far cry from his former band’s sonic maelstrom, and it seemed pretty clear that Lift to Experience’s day in the Texas sun was over. But the music lived on, still reducing listeners like yours truly to tears and goosebumps with songs like “With Crippled Wings,” “Waiting to Hit,” “Into the Storm,” and especially “Falling From Cloud 9.”

“Falling From Cloud 9” (Peel Session, May 30, 2001)

Even after all these years, Pearson’s gorgeous voice and those massive walls of guitar give me chills like nothing else. I’ve written before of the role Lift to Experience’s music played in helping me through some dark times in my life, and to this day, I find myself singing along, and getting a little misty eyed, to those beautiful, evocative words (“And if you make it over the Jordan, you still have to make it through the night/And if you reach the Holy City, it won’t be without a fight”).

Return to the present day, and to this miraculous bit of news: Lift to Experience is reuniting to play at London’s Royal Festival Hall on June 10 as part of Guy Garvey’s Meltdown festival. What’s more, Mute Records — which released Last of the Country Gentlemen — will be re-releasing The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads later this year (hopefully with some sort of deluxe treatment).

I don’t know what stars aligned for all of this to happen, but it’s darn near miraculous in my book. Here’s what Pearson said about the reunion:

We’re scared. We want it to be as good as it was. Five years ago I realized, there’s no better bands out there. There might be bands as good — I can think of maybe five of them I’d put up with us — but Lift To Experience was as good as it gets. The three of us didn’t want to be in any other band if it wasn’t as good as that. We’d rather burn that shit to the ground than have it not be pure. We haven’t been in the same room together for some years. But we’d like it to be a celebration.

That’s some mighty big talk, but after listening to that Peel Session of “Falling From Cloud 9,” I have a good feeling those Texas boys will be able to back them up come June.

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