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The Great Western States -- Strange Day

The Great Western States -- Strange Day

Strange Day, the EP by Jared Mann’s project The Great Western States, contains five songs of emotionally-charged, angst-ridden lo-fi. The collection of demos (all songs that Mann had created within the last year) was released by Providence label Blanketfort Records on December 7, 2011.

Mann’s vocals on Strange Day demonstrate bipolarity throughout, as he jumps back and forth between tense, whispery singing and outright screaming. But these extremes come together to form a sound that is vulnerable and honest. Mann ropes the listener in with his sweet, gloomy lyricism as he takes a forlorn look at the tolls of love and loneliness and combines a lo-fi style with experimental, ambient, and indie rock.

Coming Home sets up the EP’s moody vibe with overtones of regret, and Mother (pride) begins quietly, simply, and with tenderness, full of swelling emotions and just enough ambiguity. Gravitational Diseases opens with acoustic strumming and glowing background noise which leads into lofty, echoing voices. The song soon picks up pace, adding drums and more ambience, followed by Mann wailing “Where the hell am I going? Where the hell am I going?”

The changing beat patterns and breaks make Physical stand out, along with lyrics like, “There’s only so much I can do for you physically / Tomorrow when you wake, this will wash away.” On this track, Mann’s vocals go from muffled lo-fi to clean just in time for him to straightforwardly outline his misery. Finally, with its slow piano and murky vocals, Resignation times out at just over a minute, closing the set with just as much disconsolation as it started with.

It seems that part of Mann’s pain comes from the pain of those around him, and not being able to completely heal anybody, including himself. Strange Day explores these complex feelings without wallowing and without feeling contrived. Mann’s efforts as The Great Western States are perfect for a Debbie Downer mood, but Strange Day also makes hints at finding hope somewhere along the way.--Sarah Ruggiero

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