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Eraserland by Strand Of Oaks - Album Review





A new album from Tim Showalter which, barring a final misstep, hits all the Americana, (and more), marks. This album is heartfelt, sleazy, uplifting, classic and referential all at the same time whilst still pointing forwards.

The beginning is inauspicious. "Weird Ways" starts out like a standard Ryan Adams ballad, but takes off halfway through in a way that reveals the pedigree of the other musicians on the album. After hearing this track I thought it sounded like the aforementioned Mr Adams playing with My Morning Jacket(MMJ). The reverb drenched sound kept rearing its head and a little research revealed that, minus main man Jim James, they were the backing musicians on the album . No wonder I kept hearing them! As a band who has produced much that I like this was a good thing. 

After "Weird Ways" heads for the stars we stay there with "Hyperspace Blues" which is one for fans of Jason Pierce's Spiritualized, and sounds just as a song with that title should. A little bit Hawkwind, a little bit Cure and rocking hard.

"Keys" was the first song I heard from this record and it immediately caught my attention. Equal parts Mazzy Star "Look On Down From The Bridge", (more thoughts on that here), and "Via Chicago" by Wilco with beautifully weary vocal.


The quality continues with the chilled and slightly menacing vibe of "Visions" being the most MMJ-like as it builds to an intense conclusion.

More hints of The Cure in the upbeat "Final Fires" before "Moon Landing" mixes The Clash with noise rock. "Ruby" takes us back to more mainstream sounds, with a steady beat and catchy melody.

The low key "Wild and Willing" takes us into the huge sounding title track, a real widescreen epic with reverb drenched lead guitar.

Things wrap up with the 9 minute "Forever Chords", probably my favourite track on the album. From a lush and relaxed start it ebbs and flows through the cycles, with echoes of The Doors, and a perfect conclusion.

I'm ignoring the bonus track "Cruel Fisherman" which is nearly 17 minutes of ambient sounds which barely meets the definition of music, and I struggle to understand why it is there.

Anyway, back to more positive conclusions. The influences are writ large here but I feel that it is more than a simple sum of its parts and ticked boxes of beloved bands. A highly enjoyable album.

"The problem with living, is that one day you won't......."

Comments

  1. Via Chicago indeed. I also got Jesus Etc. and California Stars. It's like they plundered the best of Wilco! It's my favourite track on the album anyway.

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