When an album is priced at £3.00 one doesn’t expect much, but it is certainly worth taking a chance on, it’s the price of a cup of coffee after all. In an act of pure laziness I have copied and pasted their bio from their facebook page as I know little or nothing about them, so here it is:
The title track on Streets of Laredo’s new album, WILD, essentially sums up their attitude since starting the band in Auckland almost five years ago. It’s a gorgeous, soul-stirring ballad with a haunting trumpet line, buttery harmonies, and a chorus that goes: “They call us wild / Let’s show them wild.”
“It’s about how ridiculous you have to be to hang in there with music, against all the good, logical advice people will give you,” says Dave Gibson, who formed the band with his younger brother Dan after they bonded over records like John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Give Peace A Chance” and Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” “Trying to make a career in music is scary and there’s zero security involved,” Dave continues. “And fantastic things will happen, but you really have to be borderline crazy to keep doing it. ‘Wild’ does a great job of encapsulating what that’s like.” Singer and percussionist Sarah jane Gibson says “Wild” began as a song to Dave about their life together (the two are married), but developed into an anthem for anyone who needs encouragement to chase their dreams. “”Wild’ is about being more daring,” says Sarah jane. “If you’re gonna take a big risk, you need to go all in.”
When the Gibsons relocated from New Zealand to New York City back in 2012, it took a major leap of faith on their part. They had only played one gig and demoed a few songs, but the newborn project incited such a genuine spark of inspiration that they all felt a bold move was in order. “When we moved to the U.S., Streets of Laredo was really just an idea,” says Dave, who is the band’s drummer and — along with Dan, Sarahjane and guitarist Cameron Deyell — one of its principal songwriters. “We were like, cool, let’s start from scratch in a really big town. And I like to think that the naivety and boldness of that move has really paid dividends for us.”
It undoubtedly has: In the four years since they made a new home for themselves in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, Streets of Laredo has developed from an idea to a brainstorm to an exciting new reality for the now six-piece band. They released a critically embraced debut full-length, Volume I & II, in October 2014, and have toured North America with artists from Shakey Graves to Kaiser Chiefs to Albert Hammond, Jr., as well as bringing their rousing blend of gospel-tinged folk and psychedelic Americana to receptive audiences at festivals including Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball.
The band started writing the batch of songs for their second studio album while they were still on the road in support of their debut, and recorded the first series of demos in early 2015. Although they had taken a traditional approach to their debut, writing on acoustic instruments and recording with minimal studio manipulation, Streets of Laredo saw this new one as an opportunity to experiment. “The first album, we tried to limit our choices to organic-sounding and acoustic-sounding instruments, and songs that could be expressed very simply in a live, unplugged setting,” says Dave. “This time, we explored the use of synthesizers a lot more — especially Dan, who experimented the most with using samples and unusual noises that ended up becoming part of the songwriting process. There’s a quite brutal synthesizer line in ‘99.9%’ that wouldn’t have been an option on our first record.”
Another technique the band used to refresh their perspective was to start a song using sampled instruments, and then transpose the part to acoustic guitar for the recording. Says Dave: “Your fingers go to real different places on piano than guitar, so it’s a way of fighting muscle memory and familiar patterns.”
Once they had amassed a series of demos they were excited about, Streets of Laredo recruited esteemed producer John Agnello. Fans of Agnello’s deft touch on albums by Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., the band began sharing demos with the producer early on, making refinements based on his input as they moved from preproduction in Brooklyn to three weeks recording at Dreamland Studios in upstate New York. “John definitely influenced our sound,” says Dave, who admired Agnello’s knack for capturing relaxed, natural-sounding performances. “He respects the take and if it’s got a few glitches in it, so be it. He was really good at helping us feel super comfortable and be less academic about things in the studio.”
Indeed there is a newfound confidence running throughout WILD — from the title track and “99.9%” to the eerily catchy “Silly Bones” and a sweet, lilting tune called “Doesn’t Even Bother Me,” which Sarahjane describes as “this beautiful sentiment about not feeling like you need to be in the mix all the time in NYC, but finding a way to live a happy, normal life with your family.” She continues: “We have an ideal situation, where we can do this and it doesn’t take us away from each other. When we tour and play it feels like we’re living a good life together and fulfilling our dreams. The trick is remembering to find the magic in the moment.”
Streets of Laredo are:
Daniel Gibson – Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitar
Dave Gibson – Drummer, Backing Vocals
Sarahjane Gibson – Vocals, Percussion
Cameron Deyell- Electric Guitars, Backing Vocals
Sean McMahon – Bass, Backing Vocals
Andrew McGovern – Trumpet, Synth, Percussion
So the big question I guess is, do I like it? And I do. Sometimes there are odd connections that occur that lead you to things quite unexpectedly, for example, if you were to look at my recent post Best Albums on 1959 you would see, at number 30, an album by Marty Robbins, on his next album after that one, ‘More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs’ you would find the song ‘Street Of Laredo’. Which is nothing to do with why I picked up the album but is a moderately interesting coincidence.
There are two styles on the album as a result of shared vocals, some by SarahJane Gibson which at times have a Fleetwood Mac vibe about them and most by Daniel Gibson, which you can hear in the video above.
For £3 it’s a good listen and I’m glad I took a punt on it and added it to my collection.