by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Everyone discovers new music in different ways. Some people like to go down massive Youtube rabbit holes, some scour Bandcamp tags, and some use the radio (a scary thought in the world of Post-Trash). One of our favorite ways to find the best new music is recommendations direct from our favorite artists. I was introduced to Staffers by Anna McClellan, an artist I truly admire and adore. Some artists/bands hold the music of their peers to higher standards than the average listener (and some don't), but an artists' recommendation is always worth at least a listen. Regardless of how I got to know Staffers music, the DC via Omaha project's new album Torn Between Two Loves is fantastic, a refreshing record of honest "loud pop" songwriting that scratches all your itches with a raw simplicity. There's no glitz, there's no sense of self-importance, there's no bullshit... just Ryan McKeever and a set of well-written basement recorded garage pop tunes.
Staffers' new album is undeniably loud (regardless what volume you play it at) without being heavy. It's big and blown out without sounding muddy or (overly) chaotic. Torn Between Two Loves works with a simple recipe but creates something fairly magnificent in the process, slurring indie rock songs into his own stumbling image of charming ramshackle-pop. McKeever recorded the record in houses and DIY spaces across Omaha before handing it over to Ben Brodin (Pile, Anna McClellan, Conor Oberst) for mixing and Carl Saff for mastering. The effect of the lo-fi recording given a hi-end mix and master isn't lost on the record's sound, balancing Staffers' penchant for home recordings with an elevated sonic clarity. Much like his Omaha peers David Nance and Simon Joyner, McKeever captures the energy of a basement show throughout the record.
"Oliver's Twist," the album's opening track sets the tone to perfection, a song that sounds impossibly full and consistently in the red without a hint of abrasive intent. It's pop in its loosest form, raging with slacker appeal and a skewed reality. McKeever sings of excess in the form of drugs, insecurities, getting too drunk to perform... you know, the real stuff. Touching on the brilliantly sloppy post-punk and art-rock of bands like Swell Maps, Wire, and The Clean, there's a calming sense of "cool" throughout the record, shimmering through jangly propulsions of nervous energy ("Back To Reality"), disorienting twang with elastic rhythms ("American Love Ballad"), and downer songs set to upbeat punk grooves ("Blank Ambition"). Through it all McKeever has a way with his (generally self deprecating) words, and by the end you can't help but love the idea of Staffers and his big win for the underdogs of the world.
Staffers' Torn Between Two Loves is out June 2nd via Unread Records and Propane Exchange.