The Working Title

Bone Island


Experimental, spiritual, eclectic … groovy. Could it be that Working Title’s Joel T. Hamilton is the Brian Eno of the Lowcountry? His new studio album — or, rather, The Working Title’s 13-song collection confirms it. Released under his longtime band’s name, but truly the result of his own intensive sessions of writing and recording, Bone Island initially came out in the late spring and hit the stores in July.

Hamilton, guitarist Adam Pavao, bassist Chris Ginn, and drummer Ross Taylor put The Working Title together in 2001. As the band’s singer/guitarist and main songwriter, Hamilton’s been at the helm since the beginning. In 2005, the group released its major label debut, a well-polished major label-style production titled About Face (Universal/Motown). The acoustic/electric-guitar-driven song “The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything)” landed in regular rotation at former local rock station 96 Wave, and things looked bright for the band. Over the next two years, things dimmed just a bit.

“Those guys have all left the band and are taking their own walks in life,” Hamilton told City Paper last year of his Working Title mates. “We are all still great friends. I’m moving forward by myself right now. Luckily, we took the necessary steps along the way to retain artistic control. We had to deal with some big heads, but it was definitely not nearly as bad as some people had it.”

After months of building and equipping a new home studio, Hamilton went in a totally different direction on this new one, handling most of the instruments and singing with less polish and more guts, along with a few special guests. Jake Sinclair (of Charleston/N.Y.C. pop/rock band The Films) added electric bass and helped produce most of the songs. Obviously, the two musicians were on the same wavelength — from the glam-rock fuzz and swig of “Physical Love” and the squealy desperation vibes of cheapo-organ-driven “Dead Inside” to the majestic and spirited confessional “Followed.”

In full control of the recording and mixing process, Hamilton achieves an impressive full-band sound, but the album seems like a debut from a totally new band on the scene, and very disconnected from the Working Title of years ago. With the extra toy drums, homemade guitars, and noisy keyboards rattling and rumbling, Bone Island actually follows more closely in the footsteps of Hamilton’s personalized 2008 solo album Officina.

Hamilton has stayed busy this summer with another new musical collaboration with songwriter Owen Beverly under the band name The In-Laws (they describe their new music as “touchin’ a wild horse with a baby’s hand”). Maybe they’ll combine weird gear and grand ideas and follow up with something just as extraordinary this fall. (