This is a record that makes the notion of being a Record Collector a bit of a strange one. Our various and varied collections are not passive artifacts for us to hoard and catalogue (none of mine are, anyway – which is probably why I can’t find anything), they exist as a series of buttons and triggers to be pressed, pulled and even provoked in order to bring forth memories, feelings and sometimes tears. They remind us of times that are better off forgotten, but still we prod the hornet’s nest whenever we want to reminisce about something wonderful or even terrible. We can be so stupid.
So while Lepidopterists don’t rifle through their hoard to find a particular moth pinned to a piece of plywood that reminds them of an ex-girlfriend, and Philatelists don’t spend hours gazing at a stamp from a far-off country they’ve yet to visit because they miss their Dad, some of us (most of us?) find ways to feel alive in whatever way we can by listening to other people’s joy and pain. Benji is a prime example of this.
Thinly-disguised Depression Blog that 6 Days From Tomorrow is, it’s probably of little surprise that most things to be found on here are of an emotional bent in one way or another, as emotion is something that is on occasion hard to come by to people such as myself, as well as being something strongly felt when it happens. I guess that sort of makes it a blessing, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Anyway, this is all just so much fluff and largely unimportant – it’s records such as this that make such highs and lows freely available to everyone, and not just the slightly and sometimes fortunately mad.
Honestly, if brains were dynamite I’d struggle to scrape enough together to blow my hat off. This is a record that I thought I’d bought when it came out back in October, and when I was rummaging through stuff for the purposes of compiling my Best Of 2012 goings-on, it turned out that I hadn’t. I definitely have got it now, sadly arriving too late for the previous sentence’s shenanigans, but it’s the perfect thing to get myself back into the swing of things after blurting out 12,000 words on things that I’d already written about in a slightly different fashion, and going slightly mad while I was at it. So, a well-deserved clipped ear for me for being a bit of an idiot in the first place, but it’s such a perfect antidote for the previous 6 week’s stressed messing about that I couldn’t have sat down and listened to this gem at a better time.
Hello, people of the future! For I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and didn’t post it. With any luck, I’ve won the lottery in the meantime and I’m pressing ‘send’ from my new beachside castle. I suspect I won’t be though.
Anyways, I’m holding off a while until we’re a bit closer to the album launch so that hopefully people read this and run out to order the imminent release, and also because November is going to be largely stressful with other things. The reason I’m typing this now (ie then) instead of later on (ie now, diagrams are available upon request) is that frankly I couldn’t wait. Not for reasons of quality (although that is far from being any sort of a problem), but because the artists concerned’s first single was merely a year and a half ago and recommended to me by a friend and now here I am waxing terribly lyrical about their first big album. And that’s just the sort of thing that I like about this blog. So there.
Just a quick snippet before I go off and do something else – I don’t usually go on about single song releases as I struggle to get everything typed and posted before it finishes, but I’m happy to make an exception for these guys as not only is it a fine old song to start off with, but it’s also from a band whose first single wasn’t that long ago and which I was so taken with on this very blog, which I came across from a recommendation by a transatlantic friend of mine. So it’s all good.
The Local Strangers are mostly Matt Hart and Aubrey Zoli, Seattle residents of Midwestern origin and who are about (thanks to help from generous Kickstarters) to fire out their debut album entitled “Left For Better”, produced by Kevin Matley (who people might know from his stint behind the buttons on The Head And The Heart’s debut). Track One (or Side 1 Track 1 for older viewers) is entitled Mr. Blackberry, and there’s a video for it, which you can view right at the end of this sentence.
As pre-album portents go, it certainly has plenty of sass, focusing as it does on the titular antihero, and the emotional exorcism thereof. This ridding takes the form of much catharsis from the band’s urgent beat and swift buildup, and not least from Aubrey’s voice which (as always) has that delicious combination of seductive charm and pitch-perfect righteous ceiling-raising that really makes this track stand out. It’s fun, boisterous and compels movement and clapping/tapping of the various extremities just like a proper song should be.
The CD is out on November 9th, accompanied by a launch show at the Columbia City Theatre (or “Theater” as it’s known over there. I don’t know) in Seattle. If you can’t wait that long, it’s released digitally on November 5th when I’ll be out playing with the rest of the UK making things go alternately sparkly and exploding. And if you still can’t wait that long then shame on you, but I’ll hopefully have a writeup of the full & finished article out shortly before the digital date, and in the meantime you can enjoy the free download of the above opening gambit by nipping over to The Local Strangers’ Bandcamp site and saying hi.
I am not a calm man. I tend to wander through life in a general state of being so highly-strung that it’s a constant bafflement to modern science that when I speak, it’s not at a frequency that only cats can hear. It’s OK though, as not only am I fairly comfortable (well, resigned) in a life spent one iota away from meltdown (as I find that anything further away from this results in crushing boredom), I also have the benefit of listening to people being very nicely calm on my behalf such as with this new record from someone who is now an old favourite of mine, alongside someone new to these ears.
It’s great fun being a music snob. Not only can I sit here barely managing to pretend that I have the faintest idea what I’m on about, I can also do what everyone else does and use made-up genre titles to cover up the fact that I am listening to something I like that seems to belong to those musical corners that I’d normally prefer to leave ignored and unhoovered.
So I say “Hooray!” for the host of music journalists worldwide for employing/inventing the terms Folk, Americana and especially Folk-tinged Americana to define songs, artists and albums that would otherwise be termed Country and/or Western. I guess it helped when the uniform changed: CFC regulations regarding hairspray propellants ensured that hair sizes (and, by extension, also hats) were reduced; rhinestone-bedecked costumes were ditched in favour of garments better-suited for outdoor life; and influences crept in from outside its own heartland to make something that we can all enjoy without worrying about having to learn convoluted line-dancing routines in order to do so.
This lengthy wittering is all a smokescreen however: a justification for me to say that I really like something that more than once harkens back to something that I spent much of my youth avoiding.
Hopefully, I got someone’s attention with that – in which case, hello you and I hope you’re having a lovely evening. And I wasn’t lying either, as a quick jaunt over to The Local Strangers’ website (Clicky O’Here) and a few seconds later, after providing your email, vague geographical details and where you leave your spare front door key when you go out of an evening (last bit may not be true, but it never hurts to ask), you will receive not only this lovely new brace of quality tracks from Seattle’s favourite adopted offspring, but also their debut EP which turned out to be my favourite non-album record of last year.
Normally I put all the linky stuff at the end of my posts (which suggests that I have some sort of structure. Don’t let this fool you), but I read today that Joseph Arthur has lost his distribution and radio teams since/because he gave his last album out over the internet for free and this has annoyed me a bit, as it strikes me as a bit stroppy of them. Anyway, there you go. And so, on with the matter of this new record.
Well, it’s my own fault for moaning earlier this month that I was bored. It’s certainly picked up release-wise in the last week or so, for as well as the things already covered in the last week or so, there’s this gem released just the other day, something odd on its way in the post from the States hopefully this week, something really nice out next week, something I’ve been waiting on for 8 years the week after, and another highly-anticipated one the week after that. And then it’s a brief jaunt around the country meeting friends old & new whilst avoiding others…
But enough about what’s to come, this is here now and it’s lovely. I’ve been a fan of Dana Falconberry for a couple of years now, since I got sent her Oh Skies Of Grey album by the lovely people of 00:02:59 records, followed by the wonderfully home-made Halletts follow-up EP at the beginning of 2010. The anticipation’s been building up a little bit here in advance of her new fan-pledged full LP (which should be out later this year), so it’s nice to have this little snippet of what we may expect.
No idea whether I’m coming or going this week, so ramblings about short things may well be in order. And what better short thing to ramble on about than this charming debut from the aptly named Local Strangers – a Mid-Western duo now at home in Seattle, and fitting in rather nicely with the area’s alt-country, alt-folky stylings.