If you’re trying to decide what to listen to for the rest of the fall season, stop looking.
Streets of Laredo are mainly made up of New Zealanders living in Brooklyn, including family members Dan, Dave and Sarahjane Gibson.
Take one part 1960s Bob Dylan, one part Tame Impala (I know they’re Australian, and not from New Zealand, just roll with me here), and one part Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros and that might be an adequate way to describe the sound of Streets of Laredo. But as always, trying to describe a band by comparing them to any other group is always an injustice.
Let’s get to the music shall we? After releasing two EPs in late 2013 titled Volume I and Volume II respectively, the band released a full length today via Dine Alone Records combining the two, quite literally. The album is called Volume I & II and contains the 10 songs from both EPs.
“Everything to Everyone” has dreamy guitars, and enchanting harmonies. I use dreamy quite literally, this song is practically a lullaby, the most beautiful lullaby one could imagine. Two of the verses seem to come from the point of view of the two brothers, Daniel, the younger brother: “Well I might be the younger one/it’s the bread line I’m running from/found a fortune but not of gold/in the friends I behold,” and David, the older brother: “Well I might be the eldest one/handed down a hammer and a silver tongue.” It’s a fantastic way to begin the album, and immediately sucked me in. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t get to “Lonsdale Line” for a good twenty minutes, because I just had to keep replaying the opening track. An interesting fact about this song, which adds to its lullaby-ness is that it is almost entirely without percussion until the last 40 seconds
The album continues to build in speed, and introduces the harmonica in the second track “Lonsdale Line,” a beautiful track about a young man on a train, and an old man driving some red wood. The song really draws on the storytelling aspect of folk music. Watch the amazing video for it below.
Another track from side A aka Volume I you have to listen to is called “Girlfriend” and is about New York City being tough for a young band trying to make it. Daniel’s vocals on this track immediately made me think of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” This was the band’s first single before releasing the EPs. The video (which you can watch below) was released in 2012, and the song itself was started before the Gibsons moved to New York, and finished after arriving. It’s a fun, and playful song, and the video suits it perfectly.
I want to highlight some tracks from side B, including the album’s first single, “Slow Train,” but lets start with the song “Hey Rose.” The song starts with an organ(ish/esque) chord, and the song slowly builds, it’s not long before those harmonies we’re now used to kick in, there’s even a harmonic echo of “hey rose” and “I don’t know.” This entire album could easily be the soundtrack to a romantic indie flick. Know someone named Rose? You’re probably going to want to learn this. Don’t know someone named Rose? Well you know what they say…”a rose by any other name…”
“Slow Train” is inspired by Daniel and David Gibson’s grandfather who always wanted to be a published writer but never got a chance to achieve his dream. Daniel has said that when he discovered his grandfather’s unpublished memoirs, it moved him and the rest of the band to write the “Slow Train”, which they hope will help finally get him published. The song returns to the psychedelic folk sound of dreamy harmonies and mesmerizing guitar riffs supported by a steady beat. The video is just as trippy if not trippier than the other two I’ve posted above. With the band playing in white in front of a projector screen. One of the scenes projected is reminiscent of Easy Rider.
The last two songs I want to highlight both feature Sarahjane Gibson on lead vocals. “Homeless” which closes out side A and “Dear Leron” which resides on side B.
“Homeless” almost feels like a diary entry. Sarahjane has such a beautiful voice and it’s so nice to have these songs on the album, not that I dislike hearing Daniel’s voice at all, but it’s a nice change. The chorus “I once heard home is where the hear is/I’m homeless, therefore I am heartless.” Might just be the most beautifully poetic lyric on this entire album, and is the perfect way to end side A.
“Dear Leron” has a unique sound for this album. It’s almost sinister and possibly the perfect theme for a modern Western. Unlike “Homeless” this dips into the psychedelic a little in its sound. It’s weird, and yet, somehow not weird even though it’s so different from the rest of the album. Definitely not a track to miss.
Surely by this point, I’ve convinced you to spend some money? I have? Fantastic, I’ll make it real simple. Volume I & II is available on marble green vinyl from Dine Alone Records here. I just placed my order, what about you?