Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver
The light is haunted tonight. It's a night that doesn't wrap around you warmly - the one that we're seeing and feeling and hearing tonight - but instead holds you in its tremble, a tremble that makes you want to recoil backwards and get closer to the door. We're in a lonely house, one absent of all sounds beside the fixed stares of the light fixtures and the tiny nails and pads of a mouse scurrying through the old walls, coming in from the chilly outdoors. There are the aches and groans of the wood and there's us, helping to make those groans louder and it only makes the light twice as haunted. It's how we feel. It's something that we can't escape from no matter how hard we try. Much of this sensation is the effect of Colorado band Drag The River, a group constructed of a bunch of dudes who used to play in some of the best pop-punk bands of the 90s and then started writing country western songs on the side, which is at its best when they're making the kind of music we play on the day that we lose someone, when we feel like visiting a grave site, smoking a cigarette with a tombstone and some noisy birds. Even a song like "Having A Party" is not about a party, really, but more of the idea of a party, or what can occasionally consist of a party for one or two people. Lead singer Jon Snodgrass sings, "We're having a party/Everybody's swangin'/Dancin' to the music on the radio/The Cokes are in the icebox/Popcorn's on the table/Me and my baby just sat here on the floor," on that one, but it feels as if there is something he isn't telling us about the mood hanging over the room. The description of the "party" is given to us as a lonesome dirge, an overcast proclamation, as if the majority of the people were damned to be there, as if they've done something unforgiveable to be there and all of the tunes playing on that radio - while favorites - weren't being enjoyed as much as they should have been. There are sad little girls and sad little boys and they're thinking about the little deaths that seem to be happening all around them, with or without them, and they can't slow the rate. The troubled moments have followed us here, to our place in front of the fireplace, in a room full of this autumn light - it's sniffed us out and is poised to strike, just crouched at our feet and waiting it out. There's a lot of beauty in the faint tone of sweet repose that Drag The River give off, as if we were listening to the audio of an old man's journal put to music, remembering the past and just how melancholy it actually was. The past didn't weather. It was always weathered and so they sit and they sing songs to the past that they treat like a weary and exhausted loved one. They pour the past some warm milk or a stiff drink and they just sit around and go back over those lost days, but it's late, so they usually try to keep it down, keep it somber. They think about the death that's still out there in the future somewhere, with no tracking device and Snodgrass sings, as if in preparation, "Worms lick me clean…/I haven't slept this sound in a lifetime."