Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's a goddamn shame that there's nothing to see tonight. It's a shame that all there are around the house are roads to walk down, even if I wanted something different. Tonight's a night where it would have been something to have a dense forest to walk through, if only by the faintest moonlight. It would have been great - listening to these Many Places songs - to have thrown a stocking hat and a jacket on and walked slowly, cautiously through a pitch-black cluster of trees filled with owls and deer. We'd prefer to be alone out there, vulnerable in the growing chill of the air, in the startling snaps of twigs and branches beneath our shoes. We'd like to be at the mercy of a nature that always feels more imposing and more threatening when it's gobbling us down, as if we were walking into its dark gullet and the only way back through its tangles would be with frantic clawing and tripping and a racing heart.
The Chicago band, consisting of Kevin Rieg, Matt Hennessey, Nick Godden and Neil Erker, specializes in the kind of mood that could pull you from your house, out onto these roads, wandering to find a place that you could just get lost in, feel scared in, feel back at home in. They take us out into a world that's been through with us since before dinner time, when we checked out, when it went off for its expensive meal and we were left with what we have for leisure, or what's left over of the time we've been slowing filing away, casting as filler. They are the long hours - the ones that we're not sure what to do with. They worry us because they are the hours that we find ourselves fidgeting with and fumbling. The songs that Rieg writes are draped in woe, and he delivers his lines like a more quavering Michael Stipe. He sings, "I don't want to sleep tonight/I'll just black out and walk alone," on the song "Pall Mall," and we're pretty sure that that road is going to lead somewhere darker before it ever gets brighter.