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As Lewis and Addison Rogers begin to sing, their voices together evoke the Southern Indiana where their music was born. One can't help but feel the presence of the songs' characters in the room beside you, the music offering intimate details from vivid strangers. The Rogers brothers' appeal has never been limited to a niche audience. Tested on the road for years, playing music at honky-tonks and roadhouses, moth-eaten lounges crawling with night creatures, punk palaces, last-wave folk huts, they've honed their skills and free-flowing banter to the point where they've been able to endear themselves to all corners. Time has passed. They've read the books, they've been on the train.
The new album Popular Cycles, is a vehicle to the lives of others. It is a continuation and elaboration of their previous albums, A Long Goodbye and Old Friends. While their earlier efforts pulled in for portraits at close range, their new collection zooms in to capture the private moments in a family's back yard, then gazes up at the macrocosm, turning to planets and tree-crushing storms. The writerly duo is detail-oriented and lyric-driven; they uncork the hidden champagne. The songs live through their details – the voice of an aging planet, a desperate gunman, the penitent, the child, TV guide wisdom, the adoring father lost in the cosmos, the dream.
Much like the lyrical content, the musical landscape of Popular Cycles spans grandly, from the booming of a 21-piece orchestra to the solitary sound of a singing bowl. Started in the autumn of 2014, continued in the late winter of 2015, the duo recorded the album in Bloomington, IN and Montreal, Quebec, respectively. Recorded at Arcade Fire's Sonovox Studio, the writing of the album concluded in a snowed-in apartment above. Arranger Matt Nowlin and producer Mark Lawson helped them capture a more adventurous sound, riding forward on pulsing acoustic rhythms. Busman's Holiday imitated sounds they'd heard in electronic music with acoustic instruments, the way a mockingbird mimics a car horn. The resulting sound is both familiar but fresh.
From western soundtracks to a drone of twelve-strings, tones of forgiveness sweet enough to taste, funky drummers, the splish-splosh of fingers & palms, and melancholy chanting. From Richard Strauss to PeeWee's Playhouse, Busman's Holiday brings a refreshing sounds to the stale world of pop music.