Sunday, March 15, 2015

Drug Cabin's "Yard Work" - A Blissfully Deep Mix of Jesus, Marijuana, Lost Dreams and Hollywood

The songs on Drug Cabin's - "Yard Work" feel like serene California pop with alternative folk roots. The varied tracks shine and dance with cool festive guitar passages, vast pedal steel, super deep bass grooves, steady beats and soothing vocal harmonies. Nathan Thelen (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Moonrats) and Marcus Congleton (Ambulance LTD) write melodies (musical and vocally) that have hooks galore and you may get so intoxicated by the garden rock high that you miss what lays beneath it all. While you frolic in the shallows these songs can also be deceptively deep. Your toes may not be able to reach the sea floor and you may even encounter a riptide or two. The seemingly blissful sounds sometimes edge into social commentary and emotional ennui.

In Baywatch, the casual cadence and sounds feel carefree but carries a sad tone too- "Is it anarchy if I teach you how to love my land" and within the almost defiant push of Noche you feel the late night sleepless burdened heart among the truly beautiful moving musical passages as the lyrics offer more questions than answers: "broke up the bottle on your misfit head, come back tomorrow or you'll soon be late, I can't understand why there's tow of them in the middle of the night."

The smart groovy Hollywood might decry the city's mystique as much as celebrate it. It feels like a cocky epitaph to the heralded destination of broken dreams as Thelan and Congleton sing, "We can make anything happen.... limitless, undying fancy free. Here you are my only friend, evil one that I let in. We're only close in my world." As catchy as a Quincy Jones produced Michael Jackson track, every sound and lack there of is perfectly placed. Pop with an edge. Thelan and Congleton's free form musical style coupled with lyrical content that carries such emotional weight (and is full of drama and comedy) is what makes Drug Cabin a notch above similar fair. I have heard some comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel and in the way they mine lyrics that tell stories (vague or specific) I can see a similarity although Drug Cabin is definitely a more collaborative affair.

Thelan and Congleton's creative 'throw it to the wind' attitude makes for some surprises as well. Jesus is a kind of funky mind-bender. It is definitely fun but also feels weirdly twisted as a companion to the other tracks. Kind of like Hollywood, it is hard to figure out if the pair is skewering religion or religious freaks or drinking a bit of that kool-aid as they sing, "I come to party, I pray to Jesus, I have a good time, I'm out of my mind." The track Powder Moon, awash in peddle steel sounds is a dreamy lovely slow dance with free falls of sound. Sapphire is perfectly suited for an afternoon ride in your car looking for a neighborhood party.

In the end, Drug Cabin's "Yard Work" is a blissfully deep mix of love and life with subject matter spiked with Jesus, marijuana, lost dreams, lovers and Hollywood. For me, the track California might be the most beautiful and lush song on the album. As tender as a slow motion bottom turn on a perfectly walled four foot wall of water at Trestles, the song glides like the sweetest embrace and yet still hold's some tears in it's happiness.

California breeze.
We wake up to morning marijuana.
Look into the trees what a wonderful world at your feet.
You can stay if you want to ... leave if you want to...
Don't be surprised by the look in her eyes when she goes by.
I always loved you.
Can't afford a dream.
You shoot up come down... now you're gonna land upon your knees.
Give me love low enough I can reach.

Robb Donker

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