Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Here's to getting fooled in the past but not being fooled any longer. Here's to being so out of place and knowing it. Here's to doing something about it. The New York band Alberta Cross started together in London, on the East End, and yet there's nothing East End or English about these lads. They spill out of their faces and clothing a sentimentality for the American south, for the rich, rough and tumble, hit or miss land of such considerable American history - the hells, the poverty, the country, the prettiness, the accented and the dusty and rusty - and they moved to the United States, not to fit in or to co-opt it, but to be closer to it, to not have to daydream the muse, but to be able to cone the hands to the ears and pick out the faint locusts and the calls from the sticks. This is a crew of men who see themselves for what they are or what they've always been meant to be - honest with something almost American gothic, something associated with a barroom piano and moonshine, something that doesn't stray all that far from home, something that stays put when it's found all that it's been looking for - homemade pies, open spaces, and inspiration for the kinds of prose and poetry that echoes through warm and intimate nights. Alberta Cross, led by the vocals of Petter Ericson Stakee, casting the imagery of dreamlike states and foggy, backroad truths pulled from the dirty dishes and the sweaty shirts and jeans, makes the kind of music that is akin to home-brewed beer and wine, cared for and fermented with loving care, giving off the kind of twisted kick and power of something close to the chest. It rambles and jams out and billows like an epic campfire, bringing out all of the best sorts of agitations and fears, while acting as the words of homebodies living in a shack way out in the county, just trying to bring it all together and make sense of the randomness of daily life. It's what the blistering and exploratory guitars and the crashing cymbals are for. Stakee sings, "I just want to feel," and what better way to do that than to get isolated and see what shakes out of the sheets, what comes of the seclusion, communing with the raccoons and the foxes? There's enough of an inference in the band's rustic and yet stern rootsiness that gives one the impression that they've needed some space and some time to think for a while now, that an escape couldn't have come any sooner. It's this attachment to some of the more vacant spaces, without people piled on top of one another and the bustle of everything clamoring around, that opens up the songs on the band's debut full-length, "Broken Side of Time," and makes them into firecrackers, pistols that allow as much for wisdom as for gunpowder. Stakee furthers the craving for answers and for something to come of the reckless and unaccountable body of time and all it affects/alters on "Ghost of City Life," "How about believin'/How about some truth/I'm tired of remorse/How about some truth now honey oh/I'm tired enough to think…" And he's tired enough to fade into that lovely existence of just cocking a chin to the moon and cursing it, or assuming the same position and thinking that there's going to be some sort of friendliness this evening, for a change. At the very least, they're somewhere - or dreaming they were somewhere in the middle of nowhere - where their voices could be picked out of the noise and possibly addressed.
Alberta Cross Official Site