Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's funny that almost everyone, right now, at this very moment, is Twittering and likely peering down onto the tiny screen of their smartphone, replying to a text message from a friend, a husband, mother, daughter, sister, brother, etc. Right now, everyone's pissed off about where they're going to get their streaming and home delivery video content. Right now, people are packing their music up into a cloud as if they were seeding it, de-cluttering their homes with all of that "useless" and bulky artwork and packaging that accounts for the idea of physical music. It's amusing that all of this is happening en masse, as I spent the afternoon listening to The Zachary Cale Band. It was as if I had been sent back into time and was able to forget that anyone thinks that any of that above shit matters, or is even a real thing. It was like being taken back to an era when there was one format for an audio recording. We were to listen in our homes, in front of a stereo what would deliver us what someone had pressed on a piece of vinyl. Cale's music seems as if it's unburdened by anything that anyone these days would consider to be stressful or problematic, without really getting to a place where they were listening to the inner, non-surface thoughts a lot closer than they are now. He sings about the deeply personal wrestling matches that mostly go unnoticed, that are those propositions that we're constantly weighing behind a shroud. He sings about the cruel skies that could be hatching anything at this very moment and he sings about the rusting of people - the rusting that they bring on themselves, the rusting that growing older will expedite whether we'd like it to go that way or not. He finds ways to cut everything down into digestible pieces, ripping away much of the husk and the fat, or the superfluous makeup that distracts us from the core of the thought. The songs that he wrote for his band's latest and best album, "Noise of Welcome," are configures of the riddles that he finds himself wracked by on a daily basis. They are the kinds of thoughts that come at a truly contemplative man when he gives himself over to those good chunks of solitude that seemingly scare the daylights out of us, but actually allow us to figure some things out. Cale makes similarly brainy nuggets of melodies to the ones that Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats makes, giving them more of the wind-swept, prairie and plains countryside feel. It's music that makes you imagine - or recognize - time slipping by like rolling highway scenery. They are songs that ask you if you feel as if you're actually living or if you're just being worked or drained to the death. The songs remind us how great the cost is for nearly everything - the good or the bad - and the choice has to be made how you're going to waste your time, who you're going to waste it with. It's only then that you can determine if it was a waste or not. The shimmering examples that Cale gives us of this process make it evident that this is often very unclear. We can always see the rust, but some of it is good rust. Some of it isn't.