Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stereo RV's Human on CD

Do you like Adele? A lot of people do, obviously. I think she's just okay. The first time I heard "Rolling in the Deep" on the radio, I thought hey, that's interesting. Then I listened to the rest of the album and said no, not my thing. I even remembered that I had seen her on SNL back when her first album came out and she was barely out of her teens and I thought hey, that wasn't bad. But it wasn't quite enough for me. When it comes right down to it, I'll never be a Top 40 kind of guy. I don't hate modern pop as much as I did when I was an angry youngster, campaigning for the death of disco, but bouncy beats and catchy songs tend to float away in the ether as far as I'm concerned. They might as well be pink noise.

I thought about Adele when I listened to this new five song EP from Stereo RV, Human. Just a few seconds into the first song, the title track, I thought hey, this is a lot like Adele. Singer and keyboardist Myra Gleason has that same assertive manner as Miss Adkins--her mere voice seems to imply that she's been knocked down, but she'll get up again. Her husband Gabe supplies the rest of the musical side, and together their melodies are memorable without being cloying. On the surface, this is the type of music that you might hear on the radio any day of the week. You might say hey, and you might not.

But here's another layer of the onion--Myra and Gabe are from Portland, Oregon, my old stomping grounds. And like Adele, who is very British and lets those sensibilities seep into her music, the Gleasons aren't afraid to add a layer of Rose City gloom that makes you realize that these five songs aren't about the usual song things. In the aforementioned title track, for instance, Myra sings that she's just trying to be a human, and all the responsibility that entails. In fact, that's one of the main themes of the entire album--most of us just blend into the crowd, and it takes everything we have just to get noticed for something. In "The One," Myra delivers a multitude of life analogies--forests, mountains, oceans, hurricanes--to bring across the point that "we made it out okay."

In the end, that's what separates Human from the vast majority of Top 40 pop out there--it's about something other than love, sex and making it big. It's about survival, and we're not talking about the last romantic relationship that went sour. More than anything, Stereo RV is singing about what it takes to come out on the other side okay, and what that feel likes.

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