Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Juston Stens brings with him - from his days as the drummer for Dr. Dog -- many of the traits that are so endearing about that great Philadelphia band, to his new group of choice, Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang. It's a band that includes a young, straw hat-wearing cousin, a straw hat-wearing brother and other close, occasionally straw hat-wearing friends who create a sort of familial collective that makes what they play and sing feel as if it were made for the side roads, on plots of land far out of the way, where you're butted up against fence lines and country dogs, as far as the eye can see. You're out in the middle of rural pasture and old white-washed two-story homes, where the old men at the town diner are one or the other - long-winded storytellers or about as good at brevity as anyone could ever possibly be. Stens salutes these kinds of men in his music, which employs the scruffy, Vietnam War generation brand of melody and structure, the kinds of men who prefer to believe in simple love, when it's uncomplicated and easy. It's being to look out upon an evening of bright stars and a bloated, white moon that refuses to let anything sleep easy and feel that special person reclining back into your arms and you burn the night talking about everything and nothing to your heart's delight. Stens sings that "love, it doesn't hurt until you hurt the one you love," and his characters seem to abide by this mantra, closely adhering to the belief that one has a choice to make it good or bad and there's no real middle ground that's gonna be good. Stens & The Get Real Gang make the easy, Sunday morning coming down music that gives off the kind of light that feels as if it were streaming with a purpose, as if it were the only light all day long that was actually going to help anything grow - it's that all-important light needed for all things. The band's debut EP is laced with situations gone wrong, with one person feeling the brunt of the loss or the neglect, but dealing with it through the thoughts of those needful things in better times. "Lonely Lonely Night," is a song that strips back any unneeded tinsel or garnish, just being as blunt as possible about what's stewing and brewing inside. Stens sings, "Every day without you is gonna be a lonely day," over a lazy cocktail of heavy bass and the backing shakes and jitters that we used to hear in AM radio staples. It's lonesomeness at its most human - when it sounds as if it's just gutting and similarly uplifting or pleasant in some sick way.