Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording by Ian Harris, Video By Jake Lyle, Words by Landon Kuhlmann
Barely Civil is a quintessential Midwest band. Their sound marries emo with indie-rock and pop punk. They're from Wisconsin, a northern state but still Midwestern in every way possible. Barely Civil reflects not only the feeling of growing up here but the sounds and images we experience as well.
This group embodies what Midwesterners have been trying to say for so long: there's something very different and quite intangible about growing up here. It's not an ephemeral or abstract feeling, some distant academic definition; it's the feeling of a certain type of root that has grown deep within you, deep enough to never be pulled. It's the wide open spaces and endless stretches between cities, the surprisingly progressive capital cities that are the oases of the plains, and a stark feeling of isolation that rests within, undisturbed and constant. The bleakness is rivaled, though, by a sense of belonging unlike any other place on earth.
One of the highlights of the session is "Eau Claire? Oh, Claire," whose title is a play on one of Wisconsin's most musical cities. You may have heard about this city somewhere and somehow involved with Bon Iver, but the city has its own musical history outside of Justin Vernon. The marriage of that landscape and the story of young, lost love explains how emotions change with your surroundings, or how they're formed by them. Lyrically prosaic, the songs in this session are vignettes whose inclusion of Wisconsin implies a great importance of that state to the songwriter, whether it's with a good connotation or not.
The session closes out with a song about mental health. It's an important subject for Barely Civil, and they treat it with the care and attention it deserves with their song "I Am Drowning." At times a little bit post-rock, it's one of the most interestingly arranged songs by the group, with lyrics that stay with you beyond your listening.
Barely Civil Official Site