Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Right now, there are thousands of us mucked up in the torrent of Austin, Texas, where we're surrounded by a glut of dust, bands and endless beef tacos. We're surrounded by happy people and rock and roll bands just wailing until they fall down in a passed out pile of limbs and the stink of cigarettes. We have a day that's beginning with a thunderstorm that will keep many of these thousands hitting their snooze buttons until it all blows over like it's supposed to. Also right now, what we have here, are thousands of people with a million different, but familiar reasons to want to be finished with all of this madness and just return to normal - whatever that means for them. There are thousands of people who just want to be anywhere but here and it starts to show on their faces. Listening to Eau Claire, Wisc., band Laarks this early morning before our shove-off back north, back to some semblance of needed stability, back to our dear families and out of this human gridlock full of drunken shouting and shitty PA systems, we feel that these thin, chattering walls we're leaning our heads against as the storm tries to slowly exit the city as well are with us. We're all together in feeling the intimacy and the blissful heartbreak of lead singer Ian Jacoby's line in new song, "Red-Green," as he sings, "You've got to pick up the pieces and count your own." It's as if he's saying that we should all understand that there are going to be plenty of the parts of us that get dinged up and drop to the floor where they're ground under trampling feet, but there are plenty more that you feel still hanging intact, like you'd find a folded five-dollar bill in your back pocket that you had no idea you had. It's what we're doing here today and it's what we wish we could do even more quickly and efficiently, to just pick our droopy and beaten bodies up and get the hell out of here - hopefully taking as much of those droopy, broken bodies back home with us. It's not only a time-sensitive feeling though as this is a feeling that we find ourselves struggling to make sense of all the time: the need to do a little inventory and to regroup. It's impossible to feel stable for too long before losing your head about it all and you just want to walk out of the room, sit by a fire and just fume privately until you don't want to jump off a bridge any longer. Laarks have crafted a version of pop music that sounds like something that we'd tend to call renaissance indie rock that doesn't try to do too much, just pushing and pulling Jacoby's stunning melodies through these minor outbursts and over top this organ and drum punch that makes us believe in the sadness that leads to improvement, that we and all of our situations can be better. It's as if, in the middle of these emotional knocks and the fiery extensions of interludes in these Laarks songs, there are parts where we feel as if Jacoby's throwing his big bear arm around your shoulders, peering down at you with a big smile and telling you that it's not really all that awful. You'll get out of it eventually.