Austin, Texas band Just Walden self-released this month their second album, From a Distant Land. Similar to their debut High Street Barton Blues, Just Walden puts a keyboard at the centre of it all. Aaron Eichenseer (bass), Taylor Eichenseer (electric guitar), Danny Ferraro (vocals, piano, synthesizer), and Alex Margolin (drums) mix electronic pop sounds from the 1970s with futuristic ones with sometimes surreal, sometimes ambiguous results.
The first two tracks seem like a one-two punch, a 10-minute, two-part introduction to the album. An electronic keyboard opens the up-tempo “Robbie D” on which are added vocals, a bass line, distortions, and echoes. It is unfortunate that the message is a little hard to discern through all of this auditory distraction, as it is an important one: We need to break free of societal constraints that keep us from getting in touch with our true nature.
Although “Howl Outside My Door” sounds at times exactly like its predecessor, it also has some clear distinctions. For one, a line of clear keyboards pierces through the effects for a major part of the track; the line even manages to break through completely at the halfway mark for an interlude during which sound effects take a backseat. Also, it is lyrically much sparser and features a surprisingly gentle end.
“Fading So Slow”, built on effects-free keyboards, vocals, and strummed guitars, is very different from the openers. No doubt it will resonate with those feeling some level of despair. Instrumental “Let’s Sneak Into the Vanguard” is built around the keyboard and sounds a lot like something one would hear on an elevator. The mid-tempo “No Tears” is driven by an almost pulsating electronic beat that the rest of the track has at times difficulty keeping up with. “Tell the Last One Goodbye” features a long instrumental introduction that takes us almost to its middle point before the vocals kick in.
The very particular sounds and compositional choices of Just Walden make for some interesting elements but end up being for the most part monotonous in sound. From a Distant Land makes for a good ambiance setting album for a relaxed get-together for those who are nostalgic for the 1970s. A selection is available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information about Just Walden is available on both their official website and their Facebook page.