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Trace Mountains - House Of Confusion LP
HOUSE OF CONFUSION is Trace Mountains' third album & the rugged, earthier follow-up companion to 2020's Lost in the Country. Recorded in the winter of 2021 in various locations — a studio in the foothills of the Shawangunk Ridge in New York, at home along the Rondout Creek of the Hudson Valley, a NYC apartment & in a small shared music workspace in Denver, Colorado — the album is an entangled assortment of thoughts, a hay bale of songs. Each one wrapped up in the intentions of the other, the album is comprised of road songs, rock songs, country songs, religious songs, disco songs, satanic songs, jams & simple tunes, laid out in careful presentation — to use at your leisure.In the year of the coronavirus pandemic which followed the release of Lost in the Country, primary songwriter Dave Benton — jobless & like many other musicians, with newfound time on his hands — threw himself into an early-morning routine of instrumental practice & dedicated songwriting time. "I was used to waking up early for my warehouse job, so when I got laid off, I just kept up that schedule & implemented another daily regimen focused on improving my guitar playing & writing songs." He began exploring fingerstyle guitar, learning new picking patterns & implementing them into his songwriting. He would wake up, feed his cats & then spend hours on the couch downing cups of coffee, repeating patterns & swapping newfound guitar techniques with his housemates. The companionship he found at home eased the melancholy of missed opportunities & the burden of loneliness that so many had to endure that year. Benton considers himself lucky & in some ways, he admits, he even reveled in the solitude imposed on him. "It felt like a unique moment & opportunity in my life that I might not get again, so I just tried to channel every feeling & moment into the songs I was working on." These slice-of-life moments appear all throughout HOUSE OF CONFUSION — a housemate taking a drag from his pipe or the moon hanging low in the sky on a clear night — but they quickly get turned on their head, shifting to some alternate reality that blends past, present & future, chasing a revelation that feels just out of reach.Despite having been cut off from touring just after the release of Lost in the Country, Benton found a way to explore his world from home. “I was on the road in my mind,” he explains, “thinking back on my life as a musician — my successes, my failures — & I was reflecting on the ever-ongoing process of moving on that my life has been made up of”. The result is a natural progression onward from Trace Mountains’ previous work, a look in the rearview that examines how things change & what it feels like — and more than ever, Benton's songs are touched with a tinge of realism. “I just started writing songs about that feeling we all have, of suddenly waking up to a brief moment of clear-headedness, like ‘Oh wow, HOW did we get here?’” he laughs. “I started thinking about that a lot and just approached the feeling from different points of view & different voices that felt relatable to me. And a lot of that led back to images of the road.” House of Confusion’s themes are blended carefully from song-to-song, each one revealing a different stretch of the same road, with no true end in sight.On HOUSE OF CONFUSION, Benton is joined by mainstay players Jim Hill (guitar, keys), Greg Rutkin (drums) & Susannah Cutler (voice, mellotron) - as well as new additions to the recording band, Bernard Casserly (bass), J.R. Bohannon (pedal steel, guitar), David Grimaldi (guitar - tracks 4 & 5) & Ryan Jewell (drums, marimba - track 4). The result of this new combination of players is a band that sticks together like mud, loosely & effortlessly gliding through performances that may at any moment fall apart. Moving even further away from bedroom-recording style of the band’s first proper album A Partner to Lean On, the songs & arrangements on HOUSE OF CONFUSION lean ever-more into the rootsier impulses of Lost in the Country, relying heavily on live recording & instrumentation that features the acoustic guitar & pedal steel. This shift reveals a new, understated complexity within the songs & the tangible, tactile nature of the performances, evoking the free-flowing nature of influences like Tom Petty or Built to Spill, all-throughout imbued with the energy of Country icon Emmylou Harris’ cult classic & band favorite, Wrecking Ball. The players on the album remain essential to Benton’s vision for the music, with much of the magic emanating from the warmth of collaboration with close friends. All captured by recordist Matt Labozza (Palm, Palberta) at the New Paltz, NY studio Hum House in the span of a few days, the raw jams were taken home to be finished in Benton’s home studio & other locations over several months.HOUSE OF CONFUSION is due out on October 22, 2021 via Lame-O Records.