Ay yi yi, these are stressful times! What with cold war déjà vu, climate change jamais vu and Congressional healthcare doodoo freaking us out, we could use the indie soft-rock of Nightlands to help ease us down. On “Lost Moon,” a winsome lap steel summons the mellow multitracked vocals of Nightlands mainman Dave Hartley, whose melody points out the constellations in a stunning big sky of a track. The gentle mating call of contemplative piano and tickling saxophone closes out a journey that may have run 30 seconds or 15 minutes long — who can tell, unfolding as “Lost Moon” does outside the normal flow of time?
If the gauzy textures and tempos of Nightlands’ new album I Can Feel The Night Around Me feel a wee bit like the War On Drugs, that’s no coincidence: Hartley is Adam Granduciel’s bassist, collaborator, and fellow Philadelphian in that band. Subtract the Dylanesque vocals and Knopfleresque lead guitar from the War On Drugs, and you’ve got the folk-rock foundation that Hartley molds into unique shape. On “Only You Know,” his distinctive vocal arrangements ride astride a 4th-dimension lonesome cowboy song.
Nightlands hits the road this month to promote the new album. I’m very curious to hear what this obsessive solo recording project will sound like in the hands of a live band (featuring musicians from the War On Drugs, Dean & Britta, Strand of Oaks, and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals). SERENITY NOW!
NIGHTLANDS ON TOUR:
Mon. May 8 – Vancouver, BC @ Fox Cabaret
Tue. May 9 – Seattle, WA @ The Sunset
Wed. May 10 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
Fri. May 12 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Sat. May 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Fri. May 19 – Washington, DC @ DC9
Sat. May 20 – New York, NY @ Rough Trade
Mon. May 22 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Wed. May 24 – Toronto, ON @ Garrison
Thu. May 25 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
Fri. May 26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Warhol (Spring Sound Series)
Sat. May 27 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.