The midpoint of any year is a valuable moment for many. For some, it’s a good time to take stock of their goals, where they’ve been, and where they plan to go. Others simply enjoy the weather during the middle of the year, basking in the sun or the lack of snow on the ground.
For music fans and journalists, the middle of the year is a good time to reflect on what they’ve heard so far, and a natural point to stop and think about what’s transpired over the past few months. As 2019’s midpoint quickly approaches, it’s as good a time as any to celebrate the best of what’s come out.
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We've only got a couple weeks left on this stateside #Eraserland tour. Thank you to everyone who has come out and had a good time with us- see you soon! Head to strandofoaks.net/shows for tickets and info. 📸 @erichopper1 5/1 St Paul, MN @turfclubmn 5/2 Madison, WI @highnoonmadison 5/3 Chicago, IL @lh_schubas 5/4 Indianapolis, IN @thehifiindy 5/6 Cleveland, OH @beachlandcle 5/7 Pittsburgh, PA @clubcafelive 5/8 Cambridge, MA @thesinclair 5/9 Brooklyn, NY @musichallofwb 5/10 Philadelphia, PA @uniontransfer
On Wednesday night, a few hundred came out to the Turf Club to sing and dance along to Songs from Eraserland, Strand of Oaks’ recent rock masterwork, as well as several Oaks’ classics, in what proved to be a memorable show for all involved.
Strand of Oaks is the vehicle of creative force Timothy Showalter. Over the last decade-plus, Showalter has established himself as one of Rock’s best songwriters, crafting a discography as interesting as it is large. Though he incorporates folk, and other sounds, most of his music falls into the rock category. This proved to be as true during his set Wednesday as it is on his records.
Though rockers dominated the set, the songs were diverse enough (and the lyrics strong enough) to hold the attention of the audience. Several, including Eraserland standout “Hyperspace Blues” were aided by the presence of synthesizers, which added different textures than one would normally expect from an artist who specializes in a certain blend of folk-rock and heartland rock.
Other songs had a more anthemic feel and worked well as singalongs for those who chose to. Heal standouts “Goshen ‘97” and “Shut in” didn’t and won’t get any top 40 airplay, but both are hooky and well-written enough to stand up with some of the best rock songs released in the past half-decade.
As good as they were, they wouldn’t prove to be the true highlights of the set. Those would be two lengthy epics that are among the most powerful in Showalter’s impressive catalog. The First, “JM,” a Heal cut paying tribute to the late Jason Molina, has been a crowd favorite and staple of his rotation for years. On this night, the slow-building anthem proved to be as moving as ever, with Showalter and guitarist Ross Flournoy trading passionate guitar solos in a multi-faceted jam.
The second epic, and the last song Showalter and Co. would play, was the alternately beautiful and heavy “Forever Chords.” The closing tune on Eraserland, the song went over 10 minutes and contained multiple peaks. Despite its runtime, it never ran stale or wore out its welcome. It proved to be a standout moment in a powerful set, a thoughtful rocker in a set full of them.