Aquarium Drunkard Presents
Strand Of Oaks
1234 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90017
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Strand Of Oaks
"When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear...but then I realized how there really aren’t any rules for who you are, who you’ll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It’s death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be.” In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written and lacking any clear vision, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland.
Leading off with standout track “Weird Ways” and his powerful declaration of “I don’t feel it anymore,” Eraserland tracesShowalter’s evolution from apprehension to
creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks.
"This project seemed to just fall together naturally,” said Broemel, guitarist for My Morning Jacket. “I felt drawn to Tim’s positive energy and his albums...I threw it out there that I’d be happy to help in any way I could with the record." Broemel quickly reignited Showalter's interest in what would become Strand of Oaks’ sixth full-length studio release, and within 24 hours, My Morning Jacket members Patrick Hallahan (drums), Bo Koster (keys), and Tom Blankenship (bass) were also on board.
Revived by the support of Broemel and his bandmates, Showalter felt the pressure to deliver songs worthy of musicians he had admired long before and after a 2015 Oaks/MMJ tour. So in February 2018, he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey writing and demoing all of the songs that would eventually comprise
And in April, he went into the studio to record with Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky, and with Broemel, Hallahan, Koster, and Blankenship as his band. Jason Isbell also contributed his Hendrix-esque guitar work to Eraserland, while singer/songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle provided gorgeous vocals. Every song was recorded live, with all musicians playing together in one room and working to bring Showalter’s ideas to fruition. “I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks,” said Hallahan. “From start to finish, this one came from the heart.” Each song on Eraserland sustains an openness and sensitivity that is enthralling, bolstered by the exceptional musicians there to realize it and rekindle Showalter’s passion for music-making.
The album finds Showalter successfully channeling the full spectrum of sounds within the Strand of Oaks discography, from fast, synthy tracks like “Hyperspace Blues” to epic burner “Visions, the gorgeous ballad “Keys,” and his devastating acoustic performance on “Wild and Willing.” But Eraserland also has moments of pure, upbeat exuberance, most notably on“Ruby,” a rollicking, understated anthem driven by buoyant piano and one of Showalter’s most infectious melodies to date.
Isbell’s magnificent shredding is showcased on “Moon Landing,” Eraserland’s preeminent off-the-wall groove, while the album’s title track finds Showalter resurrectinghis long-dormant alter ego Pope Killdragon for a striking, synth-laden duet with Run
dle. But in many ways, “Forever Chords” is the definitive track on Showalter’s magnum opus, and the manifestation of everything he hoped to achieve on this record and for Strand of Oaks as a whole.
“When I finished writing ‘Forever Chords,’ I felt like this is either the last song I ever need to write, or the rebirth of Strand of Oaks.” Poignant and heart-rending, “Forever Chords” gradually builds toward an emotional release rooted in our own universal fears about mortality, personal legacy, and music as a saving force.
But it’s that first Eraserland line, “I don’t feel it anymore,” that sets a stunning precedent for the most affecting and fully-formed album Strand of Oaks has ever released. Because despite whatever doubts or reservations Showalter had going into the process, he crafted a series of songs so perfectly matched to the musicians supporting it, and so emboldened by his own doubts and insecurities, that the result is glittering, powerful, and impassioned, a moving rock and roll saga that feels substantial and deeply satisfying, vulnerable and self-assured.
Wild Pink songwriter John Ross sings about lakes, hills and trees; moss, thickets and canopies; smoke, snow and wind. The impressionistic cover art of the band’s eponymous debut full-length (2017) depicts a serene riverbed flush with dreamy hues of purple and green. It evokes a sense of tranquility that diametrically opposes their clamorous homebase of NYC, and the record’s mostly breezy—though occasionally blustery—songset is equally uncharacteristic of the environment it was born of. It’s not that their music perpetually idles, or that’s it’s soft in a simplistic way. They just move at their own pace. A patient pace. A very deliberate pace that’s, however unintentional, at odds with both their city and their position in rock’s timeline.
On their brand new follow-up Yolk In The Fur, Wild Pink again take themselves and their listeners to a place of sonic placidity. Ross and his bandmates trade what sparing crunch they did use on Wild Pink for lush, balmy synths that lift their sound upwards and out, rather than forward and down. Any traces of slowcore and grunge are gone here, replaced by the angelic airiness of Cocteau Twins and Red House Painters, but with the modern crispness of LAKE or Japanese Breakfast. Sporadic splashes of electronic drums and emphasized basslines add fascinating new dimensions to their already-diverse palette, but no instrument or tone ever feels shoehorned in. Each part is stitched seamlessly into the other, and the band’s aptitude for unexpected changeups is only heightened with the ability to shift from artificial to natural instrumentation.
Although it’s both the shortest and most straightforward cut in the tracklist, closer “All Some Frenchman’s Joke” is a satisfying thematic knot for what Ross says is an album about “protecting something vulnerable.” “Letting go of youth after the time is due/feels like relief/like when something stuck is freed,” he sings. To call this album a maturation for Wild Pink is to not only recycle a long-frayed cliche, but to neglect the musical and lyrical wiseness they already possessed on their debut. But if Ross really did quell an existential crisis during the making of Yolk In The Fur, and managed to finally scrub the gunk clean, the fresh coat that grew back took form as one of the purest, fleeciest, most lavish rock albums of 2018. (bio by Eli Enis)