It’s the dream of many between our two coasts to quit burdensome careers and travel the space in between with hopes of achieving a new American dream. The stories of those who do so are held with reverence and awe while the defectors are directly promoted to sainthood. They have looked into the face of responsible adulthood and chose a yet more perfect way. These road weary saints are driven by the belief in something better, something more real than reality.
Portland duo Strangled Darlings are such dreamers. The two quit careers in June of 2014, bought a humble RV, and have maintained an impressive tour schedule ever since while sleeping in various Wal-Mart parking lots across America. “It’s America, the only place you can park for free is Wal-Mart. So we are the beneficiaries of indirect corporate sponsorship which kind of suits us,” boasts vocalist George Veech. Their lyrics and band philosophy is reminiscent of a great American novel with their name as a respectful nod to author William Faulkner (“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”). As students of the road, they are heavily influenced by their world encounters while stopping to ponder the deeper things of life such as mortality and space. While not many would classify their sound as Americana, it is exactly what they are. American in the best and most glorious of ways, their music boils just underneath the surface of its many back roads and highways.
Boom Stomp King is the band’s fourth effort to be released in July and is fueled by their life on the road. Their brand name mix of punk, folk, and pop, is interesting and worthy of your attention. While you are sure to hear traces of some of your favorite bands, make no mistake, there is NO comparison that does their sound justice. Their sound is like the American road, familiar in spots, but always unique. “The sound of the band could be compared to David Byrne and Tom Waits performing as a folk duo; a lot of people come up to us after shows and say they hear similarities with Modest Mouse and the Talking Heads. We write groove driven, blues tinged tunes about love, rage, and small things. Harmonies and instrumental melodies with solid body cello and mandolin accompany the songs.” explains Jess Anderly.
The nine tracks on Boom Stomp King can hold its own to any Nashville poser country song currently infecting radio stations across the country. The two standouts are “Neil Armstrong” and “Kill Yourself”. The former is an interesting song about famous fathers and the faith we have in space and the media. This is a jazzy tune with rock solid lyrics and Jack White style quirkiness. While the later, is a surprisingly hopeful Violent Femmes type song that is described as “an absurdist look at self determination and shopping.” The song is a great social commentary and pairs nicely with their free flowing lifestyle. It urges the listener to take control of their life by determining their death while rejecting the god of consumerism. What could be more intriguing than that?
If you want something thoughtful, provocative, and steeped in ingenious lyrics and searing instrumentation, then support Strangled Darlings. You can check out their new video for “All We Do is Make the Sound”, which is a look into their life of touring, below: