Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Something gets into the air this time of the year that doesn't quite make sense. It's autumnal in its signature. It's crisp and it's dying all the same. Something about it feels to be that last gasp and other parts of it couldn't feel more invigorated and full of its salt still. It's spectacular when the cooling off really takes hold, when it then gets out-of-control and turns abruptly into the winter, when you can't stand it or any of the places you get cooped up in, de-layering every single time you enter them.
Here, about the first half of September, whether we're ready for it or not, everything starts to dip and fall. Everything dries itself out and the air gets cold and dusty. Omaha band Skypiper has a way of inhabiting this sensation, giving life to songs that are more than just the tales themselves, but the backdrops and all the fittings as well. They embody every part of the scene - the hots and the colds, the waning heartbeats, the quickened ones, the heat of blood and the slipping of the degrees - as it arrives at its center, at a place that requires a coat and a stocking hat for when the sun sets. They embody this time of the year, when all of the fields around here are reduced to stubble of stalks and silage. They embody this time of year, when many people begin to really think about how it would be much better to be holding a hand than wearing a glove or mitten. They embody this time of year, when words are hollower than at other times during it. They embody this time of year, when it's easier for the pheasants to hide in the brush and when bucks are finishing up growing what's going to be their full rack of antler.
Singer/guitarist Graham Burkum, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Christensen, bassist/vocalist Gabriel Burkum, accordion/keyboardist/cello and mandolin player Conner Giles and drummer Ryan Menchaca string together these various sounds and feelings of transition, of movement, or of shuffling from one form to another without any sense of whiplash. It's just like the way us Midwesterners can feel more much of the year like we're surrounded on all sides and the next thing we know, everything's gone and there's just a wide-open array of flat land, seizing up as it's covered by the elements of leaves and feet of snow. You wind up forgetting how any of this came to be and yet you watched it all go down, right in front of you. The people in these songs tend to behave the same way, getting warmer and colder, neglecting to appreciate that there was ever anything other than the temperature they're experiencing right now. It all feels comfortable until they insist that it's not.