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CD of The Week

Week of 4/08/19

    Strand of Oaks - Eraserland (Dead Oceans)

    The story of Strand of Oaks' latest album Eraserland reads like a script to a movie for which this record could be the ultimate soundtrack. Our main character Timothy Showalter is distraught and uninspired, travels to the Jersey Shore for reflection and inspiration, and is helped along the way by members of a band with a bit more than a modicum of success. There's more to the story, of course, and it unfolds over the course of 10 gorgeous and heartfelt post-rock gems.

    In typical record review fashion, Strand of Oaks could draw comparisons to contemporaries like The War on Drugs, Phosphorescent, and My Morning Jacket (the aforementioned members of the band who came to Showalter's aid and helped produce and play on the album). "Weird Ways" opens the album and immediately sets the tone, musically describing how this project came to be. Timothy starts alone on acoustic and is slowly joined by the members of MMJ, backing him in more ways than one. In "Visions," he bares his soul, reliving the moments that got him to this place, singing, "2017 tried it's best to take the magic from me."

    Synths and guitars wash over the tracks on Eraserland like waves on the beach, hopefully dragging the self-doubt and existential dread back into the sea. These songs are beautifully cathartic and if Mr. Showalter has indeed worked through this mid-life crisis, it is evident in the lyrics of "Forever Chords." "Chase the moments of bliss / They'll outshine the bad, If you believe you can be loved / You'll outlive your past."

    One of those moments of bliss on the album is "Keys," which he believes could be the best love song he's ever written for his wife Sue. He opines that maybe they should escape it all and just be together; options are on the table like a Choose Your Own Adventure book: "We should just run away, to the beaches of L.A.," and later, "we should just run away, I'll buy us a trailer down in the Keys, I'll be that bartender with boring stories." That's a seaside bar I would definitely frequent. As long as the title track is playing on the jukebox in the background. "I am the Eraserland, I can start again."

    Strand of Oaks plays a hometown show at Union Transfer on May 10th.

    **Donate $20 or more to Y-Not Radio to receive a copy of Eraserland. Click here for details.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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