Album: Border States
Release Date: June 15, 2010
After listening to Remaindermen‘s new LP, Border States, I’m completely taken aback by the feeling it gives me. I’m immediately reminded of The Shins records that were so popular a few years back. And while I like The Shins music, I always felt like it was kind of a lie. Where The Shins are a bit devious in using production to get a certain sound or feeling, Remaindermen come straight at you with honesty and the joy of knowing that their music speaks louder than the machines.
The seven-track record starts off and hooks you right away. “O’Immaculate” kicks off the record with a chill instrumentation that builds to a rocking ode to making the best of the hand you’re dealt. “If we can’t be free, let this be our history. Standing together, let’s take a stand.” That line provides the main theme for the record, to me at least.
By the end of the seven songs, we’ve reached death on “Tides In,” a four-minute exploration of what happens to us once we’re gone. It’s a fairly traditional take on things. When we go we realize we’re all connected and everyone we know and love is there. If Remaindermen are winking at us when they sing this song, we certainly can’t tell. And I, for one, hope they mean every word of it. Even if it doesn’t match up with what I or others may believe, it’s good to hear a band singing about what they really think or believe. And this band does that for just under 29 minutes straight.
The musicianship on display on Border States can not be denied. Every member of the band gets a moment to shine, and they seem to have a great chemistry together. The guitar work in particular, on a track like “White Lodge,” is a great example of restraint. The way it comes in almost two minutes into the song after a bit of a rest gives it just the kick it needs to send us over the top. It compliments the organ and strings so well, you’d almost think Hans Zimmer arranged the part.
On top of great guitar and bass, drum, keys and vocals, we are treated to some beautiful horn and string work that really add to the overall sound. Bands have a tendency sometimes to overuse a string or horn section, but here it is all essential. For a frame of reference, think of the horns at the end of “Fake Empire” by The National, then try to imagine the song without it… just not the same, is it?
Overall, I really dig this album. I look forward to seeing it performed live on August 19 at The Empty Bottle right here in Chicago. The only thing keeping me from calling the record great is that it’s too short. I wish there were one or two more tracks before “Tides In” to prepare me for the finale. As is life, I suppose. And maybe the length of the record is on purpose. The band’s way of saying, life is short. Enjoy it while you can.
- Remaindermen, of Chicago, is comprised of Logan Cradick (keys), Marc King (bass), Chris Kolodziej (drums), Patrick McMahon (words) and Michael Nelson (guitar)
- Border States is available for $9 (mp3s) or $12 (vinyl+download) on Nowhere Records’ official website. Click here for details.
- The band will be playing at The Empty Bottle on August 19 for $5. Tickets are here.