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Lloyd Cole Opens Year With New Projects

of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

The new year — and new decade — hold some fresh things in store for Lloyd Cole.

The British-born singer and songwriter, who surfaced in 1984 with his band the Commotions, is currently touring with a new trio he calls the Small Ensemble, featuring multi-instrumentalists Matt Cullen and Mark Schwaber and pursuing an all-acoustic sound that weaves in banjo and mandolin as well as guitars.

“It’s got that lovely vibe of the mid-to-late ’60s (Bob) Dylan records where people were playing the wrong instruments, but they were good musicians, so it sounded all right,” says Cole, 48, who broke up the Commotions in 1989 and now resides in Northhampton, Mass., with his wife and two sons. “It’s got an aspect of that, which I really like.

“I’m playing the banjo on a few songs, in a thoroughly brutal fashion, which I quite enjoy. I’m not very interested in how fast I can play, just how it sounds.”

Cole says his shows will preview six or seven songs from his next album, which he plans to start recording during early March in Manhattan. It will be his first studio set since “Antidepressant” in 2006, and there’s already anticipation — primarily because the majority of funding is coming from fans who have pre-purchased the album on his Web site, a campaign that he says has gone quite well.

“At first, I didn’t think it was going to work,” Cole says with a laugh. “It was slow to start with, then I sent out a missive and let everyone know what I’m doing. I’m trying to make an old-school record, working with musicians in a room with songs I’ve just written, which costs a little more than my last two records, which have been very much solo records.

“So after that, it picked up and the orders are coming in a lot quicker. It’s got to the point ... where even though we haven’t got everything we’re looking for, we have enough to start making the record, which is great.”

Lloyd Cole & the Small Ensemble perform Thursday (Jan. 28) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. Call (248) 544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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