Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
The feeling that I get in listening to California's Residual Echoes is one that takes me and drops me off in the hottest of the deserts, sand dunes and cactus as far as the eye can see - left out there to die. Time elapses and I realize that I've entered Hallucination City, population 1. Everything's getting misplaced and awkward. The calls of the vultures circling over my drooped and crawling bag of slowly moving bones are getting more confident, almost cocky in the caws. They're up there on a joyride, coasting out the final hours before they can dig in and rip all of my meat - still known to me for the time being as my arms and legs - from my torso. There's nothing I can do and then everything goes pitch black. The next thing you know, a medicine man is beating the birds away from nibbling on your ears, as if there's anything to chew on and digest there. The birds are amateurs and you're lucky they are because now you've got a second chance at life. The medicine man props you up and you feel redeemed. You feel as if you might have skirted disaster, but Residual Echoes lead singer and songwriter, Adam Payne, doesn't make it that easy on you. It feels like there's still a chase scene coming, as if you can't avoid it. He makes you feel wasted and he makes you feel like you're going to have to muster whatever energy you might still have left in the empty take for one last effort to really get out of here in a hurry. You're not safe. He sings about walking the open road on "Duds" and you can almost feel what it would be like to move straight into a burning sun, without shade, embroiled with thoughts of puzzling details, wanting someone, needing someone, but being left out here to toil in the emptiness of the mess that you've made. He creates a losing-your-mind version of a Springsteen song of open road self-discovery, just with more of a sense that you should be prepared to swallow your hopes, along with the clanging dreams. The medicine man was a mirage.