US - Illinois - Full Moon 207 - 07/22/13
50 Songs 50 States
Netherfriends (digital album)
50 Songs 50 States was a year long project where Netherfriends
A.K.A. Shawn Rosenblatt wrote and recorded a song and performed a show in
every state in the USA from April 2010-April 2011. Rosenblatt gave himself
one year to write and record a song and perform a show in each state. The
complete list of songs is now ready for release (on July 4th of course...).
Well, it's a massive and highly ambitious piece of work. Sufjan Stevens had
an even bigger project running some years ago - a scheme with 'Fifty States,
Fifty Albums' with a theme throughout as well, but, as we know, this plan
came to an end after two albums only; Michigan
and Illinois (one might include his
symphony to The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway - the BQE
of NYC, NY as a third), and later Stevens claimed: "I have no qualms about admitting it was a
promotional gimmick". (The Guardian, 2009). Well, Rosenblatt has
completed his work, and it's a work grandeur for sure.
When visiting Netherfriends' home site you can click and check
out each song. Most pages/windows include a video for each song as well,
plus short stories from the touring - a diary, sort of. In addition
Netherfriends recommend a list of bands from the state they've visited. For
this review I'll go through the "album" in ten's, starting with Wilbur,
Alabama; Austin, Texas; Frankfort, Kentucky; Los Angeles, California;
Phoenix, Arizona (feat. Rich Jones); Nampa, Idaho; Baltimore, Maryland;
Missoula, Montana; Hattiesburg, Missouri; Portland, Oregon.
site states: "...[Shawn
is always on tour and releases music like it's the end of the world.
When he performs live he uses 2 loop pedals and various instruments. He
tries his best to dance like James Brown." A statement, or a line of
goals from Rosenblatt
goes: "Quit your job. Give up your
lease. Drive your car around the country for one year. Write and a record a
song in every state. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Go to the desert.
Go somewhere. Go skateboarding. Go bowling. Get your van stolen. Get your
laptop stolen. Run out of gas.
Get into fights. Question your reason for living. Question your art.
Explore. Discover. Love cities.
Hate cities. Drink beer. Drink energy drinks. Drink sweet tea. Grow a beard.
Sleep on a couch. Sleep in a parachute tent. Sleep on the floor.
Sleep in a warehouse. Sleep
in a van. Explain your project to the cops when you get pulled over.
Play to an empty room. Play to a packed house. Play a BBQ in Oakland.
Play a gallery in Seattle.
Get addicted to coffee. Play a haunted venue in Vermont. Play a museum in
Cape Cod. See Mt. Rushmore. See the Northern Lights. See the Golden Gate
Bridge. Learn what Hawaii smells like. Learn that there is a town called
Nampa in Idaho and play a show there. Learn the prices of produce in every
state. Draw a self-portrait. Keep calm.
Get angry. Make regrets. Don't miss the cat; miss the girl. Record in a van
at an abandoned gas station in Alabama. Record in a sun room. Record in a
Do it. Do it better. Write about it all. Share it with the
The music of Netherfriends is sort of wide screened
and multi-flavoured. They sound free, without borders or fences. Not all of
the 10 first songs are of the most tickling kind. Yet, they hold a certain
quality and defiantly quite some strength and attitude. "Frankfort, KY" is
without doubt my favourite track, being a brilliant song. Catchy and proud.
Whether if its a good postcard from Frankfort, KY, I'm not he right person
to say. "Los Angeles, CA" is a tranquil song, which is probably quite a
fitting souvenir from The Golden State. "Phoenix, AZ" features a guest
appearance by hip-hopper Rich Jones, and differs some from the other tracks.
"Austin, TX" is a gentle breeze from the Lone Star State. Possible a
balanced opposition to tough Texans and arid and humid climate. "Missoula,
MT" sounds like a 60s pop song (with a tint of The Magnetic Fields), and is
one the more appealing and immediate ones. "Hattiesburg, MS" is another fine
track, and along with "Missoula, MT" it's one of the shortest songs
presented (clocking in at less than 2 minutes).
"Portland, OR" closes the first ten tracks, and it's another lazy and
swaying song, slightly Eels-like.
To sum up the first round: "Frankfort, KY" is the winner, the indisputable
stand-out track, harvested from the blue grass (not the music genre) from
Kentucky. It's followed by "Missoula, MT", "Los Angeles, CA", and the
slightly Sufjanish "Hattiesburg, MS".
50 Songs 50 States is said to be the first album to ever be
released on an interactive map. Go explore that map.
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen