Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recorded & Mastered by Sam Patlove
The chore of getting through the days comes poking through Leopold and His Fiction songs. It pierces you in the side, leaving more than a mark, but not hurting you so bad that it's gonna kill you. It's that bit of pressure and the flash of pain that's just an unfriendly reminder of what's at stake. We recognize that it's almost always our fault when we derail, but it can be helpful to deflect cause. It can be interesting to mire ourselves in the raw details, but just take them as a lump sum, a pile that was inherited (earned?) and instead just look at the scenery on the other side of the smoke and the smell of burning, charred up flesh. It's our way of owning it, even if it's just a way of overlooking the causes and even most of the consequences as mere minor strokes.
This San Francisco band, led by lead singer Daniel James, makes gritty, worn down and lived in songs that are somewhere in the convergence area between Man Man shanties, Dr. Dog's hot-blooded humanity and something with a keenness for Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," give or take. The people who live in these songs are many rounds past their primes and they've gotten themselves to these points where they're overdoing it on prayer, or whatever amounts to prayer. It's not taking any more. Like an antibody, the very act of it is rejected by the problem areas and they just need to up the dosage, but that can only be taken so far.
These are people who rarely wake up from their nightmares. They pinch themselves and there they are - still in it. The sharp edges of those nightmares dull some, but they never go away completely. They are lonely ones and they are wanderers. They find that they love the burning sensation - that they actually need it to keep themselves afloat. They will just take it and kick it down the street a little further, meeting up with it when they think they've outrun it. James sings, "It's all over and now it's much too late," but it's not a white flag. It's not a banshee's wail either. It's just a muffled conversation he's having with a spirit that's been compromised, but one that will attempt to prop itself back up for another day of moving and struggling along when the sun perks itself up. They'll just ride it out, like they've been.