Friends, enemies, and neutral parties! (As my wife likes to address people these days.) It’s Andy back again and it’s been too long but after a long summer it’s good to be back with you. I’m excited to be introducing to you lovely Underwater Sunshine people to the latest addition to our November line-up, The Accidentals.
Many of you may already be familiar with The Accidentals who released their first album back in 2012 when, if my math is correct, they were still high schoolers. At the time, The Accidentals were Savannah Buist and Katie Larson, a sophomore cellist and junior violinist thrown together in high school orchestra who quickly developed an affinity for writing and performing great original music together. Their debut album, Tangled Red and Blue, showcased a modern folk sound that was lyrically far gutsier than artists far older. The album was well received and led down a path that included five full length albums, labels and independent releases, opening gigs with artists like Brandi Carlile, Andrew Bird, Dar Williams, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and a host of others. They also added a full time percussionist along the way, multi-instrumentalist Michael Dause, first as a touring member and then making his recording debut in the 2016 EP Parking Lot.
All that to say folks that The Accidentals are a band with some history and pedigree and if you want to go down the rabbit hole of Spotify listening and YouTube searching for past musical endeavors, you won’t be disappointed. You will find a remarkably talented group of musicians with masterful control of multiple instruments making music that may get away with being called modern folk or indie pop or really, any host of labels you’d like to try to wrap around it. What you’re really watching though is a group of musicians talented enough instrumentally and deft enough with musical theory and an understanding of musical history to turn all of it on its ear and bend genre in on itself so that there’s really not anyway you can pin a label on them. They just keep growing into a more formidable and important artistic endeavor, and I’m thrilled to have jumped on board, even if it’s late to the show.
You know you’re dealing with a force to be reckoned with when you start to absorb the lyrics. My first moment realizing this was when listening to 2017’s “Odyssey”, the first single off the album of the same name. You know you’re listening to writers who are joining the ranks of the American songbook when an album’s opening lines go like this:
Outside the lake’s a cataract
It stares up at the sky
Blind to the aftermath
We all attend a nameless funeral
You could say it’s sad
But reason has to call it beautiful
But that’s just the start. Because later:
Feel the weight
Of cold upon your shoulders from the lake
The words you drown
Leave a bitter taste inside your mouth
Whatever you have sheathed
Will throw itself against your teeth
Until you have the guts
To let it out
But I’m not weak
My brain’s a hurricane
Of sky and sea
Poseidon’s set a broken
Curse on me
I’m not the one who bleeds
With every bruise that blooms on me
As good as that last line is, they manage to invert it on the last chorus when, instead of “With every bruise that blooms on me,” they defiantly sing, “With every Odyssey.” I really don’t think I need to waste words here talking about why lyrics like these should excite anyone and everyone who claims to love music and song. And just take my word for it, the music elevates the words in the way mature musicians know that music has to wrap lyrics and lift them up to the place where they break the sound/soul barrier and allow them to seep into our deep places. You know what, forget all that and just watch this:
Folks, that album was from 2017. And God help me, I think their 2019 self-titled release of unreleased new live music, live versions of some unreleased material, and some covers may be even more exciting if this is any indication of new directions this band wants to take. Truth be told, the world is theirs musically speaking. They’re kind of the total package of songwriting chops and deeply ingrained and studied musical knowledge that will allow them to forge a road to anywhere they want to go. What the hell am I talking about?
See? Don’t sass. Get to the Underwater Sunshine Fest at the Rockwood in New York City November 8 and 9 and see what the hubbub is about. Disagree with me on this assessment? Fight me! I kid; I’m a peaceful man.
But…I have been watching too much Letterkenny lately.