Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The people in City Streets songs are gluttons for most of the things that will never become their friends, or even show them much friendliness in a disheartened and aloof manner. They'll always be there for them, but friendship is not something that they ever get involved with. They stay out of those beds because everyone knows exactly where all of that will lead. It will lead them to some kind of ruination, the brain spilled and the bones poking out of wounds needing bandages, or a soul lapping up against the slippery and jagged rocks of an unfeeling coast. These are the roads and these are the bars along those roads. These are the nights and the pretty bartenders that people find themselves falling in love with for the easiest of reasons.
Singer Rick Reid sings, "The bartenders are pretty in every city/I don't smoke but I've got a light," allowing us to believe that he is always game for playing the parts, for reenacting what may have happened the night before in another city - the same thing that happened the night before the night before last in a different town - letting the same chain of events, just with altered details and faces, play out again, in whatever glory it can muster. There is a distinct taste of a journeyman's passion coursing through these songs, making them smell like burnt off and combusted gasoline fumes and the hot breath of alcohol, slightly tinged with the skin smell of three days on the road without a washing or shower. It's a muskiness that gives you a lot of the information you need to know. These bars and these nights are the same ones that Bruce Springsteen would still find in Nebraska, the same kinds of bottomless and keen metaphors that you can find gleaming and shining smugly under the soft, harvest moons of every year, every month, every day and every hour. This group, based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, seems to wander the streets that hum with all of their uncertainties, through whatever may come to pass.
Reid, bassist Matt Leddy and drummer Mark Chmilar put these stories together so that they always feel inspired by the truly depressing parts of the scrambles that we find ourselves only partially ever really forgetting about. They exist under the bleak lights of the cities - those erected by man, not those burning down from the heavens - giving all matters a scuff and a kick in the ass. There are cigarette burns and bruises on them that you only see the following day, in the harsh light. There remains a nice balance of taking it all for what it's worth, for just dealing with the sadness of the nights, for not knowing how to digest that this is all there is. Reid sings, "This world was meant for us," and elsewhere commenting that he looked in the darkness and he can promise to us that "God wasn't there." He doesn't seem to have any reason to lie about something like that. And if something or someone like God isn't there in the darkness, it's not replete with a lot of other stuff too.