The 2nd Way, based in Chicago, Illinois is described as a “one guy smushing his multiple musical personalities together.” A lifelong musician, this “one-man-band” quit the quasi-capitalist grind to dedicate one year, 2020, to recording an album. That album, by the band’s same name, was recorded and mixed in the artist’s grandparents’ emptied Cape Cod home. Later, it was mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music. Overall, the Chicago musician states, “the recording process was inconsistent and moody - sometimes painstakingly gradual, sometimes completed by pulling a spontaneous all-nighter.” Written and recorded throughout the bleakness of 2020, the 2nd Way is a rumination on maturity, monogamy, mortality and gratitude. It’s equal parts groove, dissonance, acoustic twang, electronic grandeur, bubblegum bop and gothic anxiety. Comprising of many genres, the track sequencing aims to continually surprise the listener. Every aspect of recording, singing, songwriting and mixing was handled by the artist and influences range from Mitski to Swans, from Fela Kuti to Deadmau5. The artist hopes that the music will help each listener heal from a harrowing year.
The opening track, “2020 Sunrise” is a song that calls us to be grateful, despite the crappy, dark times that life can bring our way. The beginning sounds are spacious, inspirational, hopeful and alive. This opener is definitely worth turning up! “Nostalgia” starts off with what else? – a nostalgic sound. Parts of it reminded me of Weezer, Modest Mouse or Vampire Weekend in some sort of way. This one is about revisiting a thing that calls us back to a simpler time in our lives – childhood, but reminds us that we’ll never, really, have that time back again. We only visit it in our memories. “We’re in Love” has a bit of soul, and a whole lot of romance – a simple song about just that – being in love. “Plague” takes the album into the electronica genre. This instrumental has got some great highlights to it. I think it’s almost entirely done on synth with added extra effects or beats, perhaps on a drum machine. Anyway, it’s pretty damn good. The next song, well, says it all, I guess. “We’re Gonna Die” is a reminder that our time is coming. But despite this, the artist sings about staying positive, being ok with crying and not letting the world get the better of you. This one has a great sing-along quality to it, as if you can hear it at some bar late at night or around a campfire with your best friends.
“With Your Ghost in Me” is a deeply moving song. You can’t pass this one up. The song is about “talking” to a loved one (or singing to them) that has passed away. But there are also hints at believing, or not believing, in God. The melody is sad and moody and is played only on the piano with some added synth effects. “Knife” is the artist’s longest song by far, and all I can say about the lyrics is that they may come across as being “suggestive” towards taking one’s life. But then again, lyrics are often metaphorical and symbolic. The music itself, is what really caught my ear the most. If this is the next phase of post-rock music, I want more of it! (But please, not another 2020). Another number worth listening to. Next up is “Old Love” – a tune about still being in love with the one you love the most – flaws and all. This one feels a little like an old school pop song. I really like the line “Let time take my lover but keep my best friend.” That says it all.
“Never Get Old” features some old school ‘80s electronic vibes with that funky thing they do these days with the voice. A quirky little pop number that’s quite catchy. “The Crush” features some of the trippiest lyrics I’ve read in music. Maybe you can figure this one out. It’s very original, in my view, not to mention offers a range of chill sounds, dramatic moments, freaky sounds and one weirdly fantastic opening line – “Everything is puppies and guillotines.” Moving on, “The Big Goodbye” reads like “a long-distance goodbye” to your lover who is miles away in another state or country. It’s the most tender song by far on the entire album – a lovely lullaby indeed. The last number is a reprise of the first tune. “2020 Reprise” features vocals with additional backing vocals and guitar. A nice ending song of gratitude and “thank yous.” The 2nd Way’s debut reads somewhat like a concept album – from the opening track to its reprise, it’s a near perfect example. The lyrics are quite imaginative and thoughtful with some swears here and there. Overall, if you’re looking for something a little different, musically well produced and played, try the 2nd Way. Maybe it will help you to forget how crappy 2020 was.
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