In 2012, Fairweather Friends – a large, ragtag New Paltz musical collective led by songwriter/guitarist Adir L. C. and drummer Jed Kosiner (Whispering Olympians, Snow Bear) – released These Years on the Boat. In some ways the record epitomized the New Paltz scene of that time: a transitional and optimistic moment in the musical culture of my hometown. Somewhat hippie in its freak/folk/rock sound and in its overt communal ethos, These Years on a Boat was also an aspiring contemporary indie-pop affair, sonically experimental and musically savvy, hinting at much broader pop ambitions underneath the prevailing bang-on-a-can, singalong vibe. Additionally, the record was one of the early flagship productions to come out of Salvation Recording Co., Chris Daly and Samantha Gloffke’s New Paltz village studio (and then-label) that has since produced nationally registering records by Porches and PWR BTTM among many others.
Adir L. C. – whose songs routinely address themes of global walkabout, identity quest, the sustenance of temporary friendship and the spiritual necessity of moving on – did just that shortly after the record’s release, first touring with Kosiner and then eventually landing in Tel Aviv, where most of his sparkling new record Oceanside Cities was recorded with a talented young producer named Tom Elbaz.
Oceanside Cities is a glorious and glossy flowering of all the Baroque musical impulses and style acquisitions that were latent-but-stirring in the music of Fairweather Friends. From elegant orchestral backings to global/electro beat manipulations and meltdowns to harrowing squalls of noise rock (“New City”), Oceanside Cities leaves no production move unexplored. The album-opening “Half Right” swings with a horn-powered and unironic glint of Burt Bacharach and Neil Diamond in its eye. The single “Dinosaur” proceeds as an earthy acoustic freak/folk number for about 30 seconds before erupting into an Arcade Firelike, broad-stroke celebration of impermanence and obsolescence: his own and humanity’s.
While the production aesthetic here is unfettered, to put it mildly, Adir’s sturdy, high-character songs and a thematic consistency that borders on obsession hold up to the treatment with no signs of sweat or strain. From Fairweather Friends on, Adir’s songwriting and singing have been possessed of a Surrealist slack and slur that hint at a somewhat-less-brainiac-and-more soulful version of Stephen Malkmus. That shambolic, almost-but-not-quite-divested quality rubs against the absolutely fastidious and full-spectrum arrangements of this global pop record, making it all seem not so much effortless as unconscious, like something born whole in a single moment of dream. Needless to say, that is not how it actually happened.
It feels epic. It sprawls. It moves multidirectionally through musical time and global space; and yet, at the end of the album-closing eighth track (a high-sheen, pristinely layered reboot of the Fairweather Friends staple “Same Big Ring”), the clock reads a mere 29 minutes – barely more than an EP. It is actually somewhat miraculous.
Adir L. C. returns to one of his many homes to celebrate the release of Oceanside Cities with a show at BSP in Kingston on Thursday, March 24 at 8 p.m. Also on the bill is the Albany-area shoegaze act Jouska. Admission costs $5 at the door. BSP is located at 323 Wall Street in Kingston. For more information, visit www.bspkingston.com. To listen to Oceanside Cities, visit https://adirlc.bandcamp.com.
Adir L. C. with Jouska, Thursday, March 24, 8 p.m., $5, BSP, 323 Wall Street, Kingston; https://adirlc.bandcamp.com.