The Accidentals – Odyssey (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 48:59 minutes | 565 MB | Genre: Alternative, Indie
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © Masterworks
Named among Yahoo Music’s Top 10 Bands to Watch in 2017, The Accidentals new album, ODYSSEY, affirms the band’s place among contemporary music’s most original and adventurous new bands. Multi-instrumentalists Sav Buist and Katie Larson joined on stage and in the studio by drummer Michael Dause have crafted a genre all their own, fueled by their uniquely limitless approach to musicality and songcraft. Lyrically powerful songs like Earthbound and the potent title track see the band embracing their choice to lead an unconventional life with all its many surprising twists and turns.
The Accidentals adventure began in their hometown of Traverse City, MI, when Larson, a sophomore cellist, and Buist, a junior violinist, were paired for a high school orchestra event. The gifted young musicians became fast friends and before long, bandmates. Having both grown up in musical families with professional pianists for fathers and vocalists for mothers, their shared influences bounced between classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, alt-rock, and the obscure.
Co-produced by Buist, Larson, and Dause with engineer Jason Lehning (Mat Kearney, Guster, George Jones, Alison Krauss), ODYSSEY sees The Accidentals joined by such friends and fans as acoustic guitar maestra Kaki King, bassist and fellow Michigander Dominic John Davis (Jack White, Beck), Carbon Leaf guitarist Carter Gravatt, Keller Williams and The Decemberists Jenny Conlee, who spent three days in the studio alongside the band, lending her distinctive organ to a number of the album’s key tracks.
Odyssey is the Sony Masterworks debut of the Accidentals, a versatile indie folk trio that emerged from the Interlochen Arts Academy near Traverse City, Michigan. Formed by then-high school students Savannah Buist and Katie Larson, both of whom write, sing, and play several instruments for the group, the Accidentals toured extensively and released two albums before graduating. After deciding to put off college to pursue their burgeoning music career full-time (which meant passing on a presidential scholarship to the Berklee College of Music for Larson), they added drummer Michael Dause to the lineup and did a lot more touring. Odyssey follows a dalliance with Marshall Crenshaw’s production company and a subsequent self-released EP. Their first full-length record as adults, Odyssey is indeed their most mature release to date, presenting 13 tracks that vary in tempo, influence, and, to a degree, instrumentation, but settle into an expansive yet breezy folk-rock. A song like “KW,” namesake of solo jam band act Keller Williams, who plays guitars on the track, has a syncopated groove, rapid-fire lyrics, and streaks of improvisation. Like a lot of the band’s output, the arrangements are primarily acoustic (there is electric guitar on the track), but it doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy on what are at heart catchy pop songs. Later, the wistful “Chekhov’s Gun” relies more heavily on keyboards and vocal harmonies. About the unavoidability of change and heartbreak in life, it’s one of four tracks that feature the Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee on organ or piano. She also appears on the more playful “The Sounds a Watch Makes When Enveloped in Cotton” (from a line in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”), a bluesy ditty that’s one of a handful that they played live for a few years before getting around to recording them. Arguably the folkiest song on the album is the drums-free instrumental closer “Ballad Tendered Gun,” which features avant-garde musician Kaki King on acoustic guitar. It’s a fittingly bright but bittersweet, and musically unresolved finish to an album that seems very much about taking things in and pressing onward. Despite a certain amount of geekiness – in terms of the lyrics, the array of influences, and some jammy performance passages (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – Odyssey is entirely approachable, and it’s can’t-miss for those who like a sweet melody with a good Star Trek reference.
01 – Odyssey
02 – Memorial Day
03 – KW
04 – Arizona Stars
05 – Crow’s Feet
06 – Earthbound
07 – Nightlife
08 – The Sound a Watch Makes When Enveloped in Cotton
09 – Cut Me Down
10 – In the Morning
11 – Chekhov’s Gun
12 – Stitches and Seams
13 – Ballad Tendered Gun