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STRAND OF OAKS

Strand Of Oaks

In Heaven

    To say 'In Heaven' is about conquering grief would be oversimplifying everything Tim Showalter has achieved on the eighth studio album from Strand of Oaks. A stunning, hopeful reflection on love, loss, and enlightenment, 'In Heaven' is a triumph in music making, and a preeminent addition to the Strand of Oaks discography. 'In Heaven' was recorded in October 2020 with Kevin Ratterman at Invisible Creature in Los Angeles. Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) is featured on guitar through the record, while James Iha (The Smashing Pumpkins) contributed vocals and guitar for "Easter". Bo Koster (MMJ, Roger Waters) provided keyboards, Cedric LeMoyne (Alanis Morrissette, Remy Zero) bass, Scott Moore violin, and Ratterman monstrous drums. Showalter also played a lot of synth on this record, which he hasn't done since 2014's HEAL. With clean sounds, Jeff Lynne-esque acoustics, and sophisticated songwriting, he approached 'In Heaven' in a more poised and pop-leaning way than his past releases.

    Pairing smart, imaginative lyrics and striking arrangements, tracks like “Carbon” and its magnificent violin stand out, as does “Sister Saturn” with its funky, sinuous groove, and the sublime “Horses at Night,” which features one of Showalter’s most exquisite melodies to date. There’s also a discernible current running through In Heaven of homage to some notable losses in music—John Prine, Jeff Buckley, and Jimi Hendrix all play a part—for In Heaven is about moving beyond sadness or anger to a state of gratitude that we ever had these people to begin with. And while every song provides some clue to Showalter’s personal heaven, the jubilant “Jimi and Stan” says it all, wherein Hendrix and his beloved cat Stan are hanging out, going to shows, and looking at stars together.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Galacticana
    2. Easter
    3. Hurry
    4. Horses At Night
    5. Somewhere In Chicago
    6. Jimi & Stan
    7. Sunbathers
    8. Carbon
    9. Sister Saturn
    10. Slipstream
    11. Under Heaven

    Strand Of Oaks

    Erasureland

      “When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear...but then I realized how there really aren’t any rules for who you are, who you’ll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It’s death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be.”

      In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland. Leading off with standout track “Weird Ways” and his powerful declaration of “I don’t feel it anymore,” Eraserland traces Showalter’s evolution from apprehension to creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks.

      Revived by the support of Broemel and his bandmates, Showalter felt the pressure to deliver songs worthy of musicians he had admired long before and after a 2015 Oaks/MMJ tour. So in February 2018, he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey writing and demoing all of the songs that would eventually comprise Eraserland. And in April, he went into the studio to record with Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky, and with Broemel, Hallahan, Koster, and Blankenship as his band. Jason Isbell also contributed his Hendrix-esque guitar work to Eraserland, while singer/ songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle provided gorgeous vocals. Every song was recorded live, with all musicians playing together in one room and working to bring Showalter’s ideas to fruition. “I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks,” said Hallahan. “From start to finish, this one came from the heart.”

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Weird Ways
      2. Hyperspace Blues
      3. Keys
      4. Visions
      5. Final Fires
      6. Moon Landing
      7. Ruby
      8. Wild And Willing
      9. Eraserland
      10. Forever Chords
      11. Cruel Fisherman

      Hard Love, Tim Showalter’s latest release as Strand of Oaks, is a record that explores the balancing act between overindulgence and accountability. Recounting Showalter’s decadent tour experiences, his struggling marriage, and the near death of his younger brother, Hard Love emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. “For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that’s constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that’s naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It’s about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated.”

      During some much-needed downtime following the release of his previous album, HEAL, Showalter began writing Hard Love and found himself in a now familiar pattern of tour exhaustion, chemically-induced flashbacks, and ongoing domestic turmoil. Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane’s Addiction, and informed by a particularly wild time at Australia’s Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. Showalter’s first attempt at recording the album led to an unsatisfying result—a fully recorded version of Hard Love that didn’t fully achieve the ambitious sounds he heard in his head. He realized that his vision for the album demanded collaboration, and enlisted producer Nicolas Vernhes, who helped push him into making the most fearless album of his career.

      TRACK LISTING

      1 Hard Love
      2 Radio Kids
      3 Everything
      4 Salt Brothers
      5 On The Hill
      6 Cry
      7 Quit It
      8 Rest Of It
      9 Taking Acid And Talking To My Brother

      From the first bars of ‘Heal’, the exhilarating melodic stomp of ‘Goshen ‘97’ puts you right into Tim Showalter’s fervent teenage mindset. We find him in his family’s basement den in Goshen, IN, feeling alienated but even at 15 years old believing in the alchemy and power of music to heal your troubles. “The record is called ‘Heal’ but it’s not a soft, gentle healing, it’s like scream therapy, a command, because I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.” ‘Heal’ embodies that feeling of catharsis and rebirth, desperation and euphoria, confusion and clarity. It is deeply personal and unwittingly anthemic.

      Showalter was on tour, walking home on a mild autumn night in Malmo, Sweden, when he first felt the weight of the personal crisis that would ignite him to write ‘Heal’. “It was a culmination of pressure,” Showalter recalls. “My marriage was suffering, I’d released a record I was disappointed in, I didn’t like how I looked or acted… so I’d gone on tour, I was gone about two years! I didn’t take time to think about failure, but I knew I was going deeper and deeper…I was thinking, I have this life, but it’s not my life, I haven’t done it right…” When Showalter returned, he wrote 30 songs in three weeks, a process that proved difficult but cathartic and at times invigorating. Previous Strand Of Oaks records were more skeletal, raw examples of folk-rooted Americana with occasional rock and electronic currents that have now come to the fore.

      ‘Heal’ is a bold new beginning, with a thrilling full-tilt sound that draws on Showalter’s love of 70s, 80s and 90s rock and pop, with the singer and guitarist playing the intense valedictory confessor.

      Crucial to ‘Heal’s sound was the man who Showalter chose to mix the record, the stellar alt-rock icon John Congleton. Showalter also re-connected with Ben Vehorn, synth expert and studio engineer extraordinaire and drummer Steve Clements, who provides ‘Heal’s thunderous, sinewy drive. Songs such as ‘Shut In’, ‘Plymouth’ and ‘Woke Up To The Light’ have a classic construction and mood, recalling 70s powerpop / ballads and the yearning ache of Big Star’s late, great Chris Bell.

      Many of the songs on ‘Heal’ reveal an electronic undercarriage and towering drums that push the album’s wired dynamic to its stretching point, especially on ‘For Me’, which expertly bridges the album’s twin decades of influences. If ‘Goshen ‘97’ recalls the molten energy of Dinosaur Jr, that’s because it actually is J Mascis on lead guitar. Despite the initials, the album’s smouldering 7-minute epic ‘JM’ is not a Mascis tribute but one to the late Jason Molina, about having his music as comfort no matter how bad things get.

      TRACK LISTING

      1 Goshen '97
      2 HEAL
      3 Same Emotions
      4 Shut In
      5 Woke Up To The Light
      6 JM
      7 Plymouth
      8 Mirage Year
      9 For Me
      10 Wait For Love

      Strand Of Oaks

      Darker Shores EP

        Dead Oceans is proud to announce signing Strand of Oaks, currently about to embark on an extensive European tour to promote the Darker Shores EP, (a welcomed follow-up to last year's LP, Dark Shores). After long spells supporting both The Tallest Man On Earth and Phosphorescent, Strand of Oaks takes his newly informed sound to Europe for a headlining tour, plus London and Nijmegen dates with Damien Jurado and a stop at End of the Road Festival on September 1. Plan to see this powerful two-piece live.

        Darker Shores is a collection of songs that continues to reveal itself. Its path leads back to the vintage synthesizers used to create a unique journey into the human experience. Beyond the bleak and uncertain lies a solace and comfort that comes when songs achieve their highest possible potential. These songs represent both a definite ending and an undeniable new beginning. Hope you enjoy the journey.

        All of the songs the Strand of Oaks writes are based on true stories. Lovers get divorced, murder John Belushi’s drug dealer, go bowling with mythical giants, watch their youth slip away and commune with John F. Kennedy’s illegitimate son. Obviously, Timothy Showalter (who is Strand of Oaks) has allowed himself many liberties with what constitutes the truth, and his commingling of fact and fiction, of humor and heartbreak simultaneously distinguishes him from the bearded, acoustic-toting singer-songwriters he’s so easily compared to: immerse yourself in a Strand of Oaks record and confessionals turn into metaphor, autobiography transferred into tall tales.


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