Excavator, the new album from local pop-noir band stephaniesid officially releases on Tuesday, June 9, but local fans who attended the band’s May and early June shows got a chance to pick up an advance copy. It’s worth making an effort for an early listen; it’s also worth the wait.
Excavator digs deep. Fleshed out, in part, during a month-long residency at Isis Restaurant & Lounge last year, the 11 tracks delve into themes of hope, fear, aspiration, ambition, failure, acceptance and what it truly means to be an artist. Stand out tracks include “I Will Not Be Famous,” a waltzing, uplifting meditation on the idea of doing great work in obscurity. The lithe and moody piano (Chuck Lichtenberger) elevates the song, which is a kind of elegantly wild pas de deux between vocals and keys.
“Love is the New Black” is a slow build showcasing the many facets of vocalist Stephanie Morgan‘s voice. And there’s a studiousness to Tim Haney‘s percussion. Live, he plays with a coiled intensity — the kind of focused fervor that could karate chop bricks just as well as propel an indie-pop song with shimmering precision and sinewy snare.
“Rock Baby,” a favorite from the band’s stage shows, is lushly layered on the album. It vacillates from spare percussion and vocals to rich, orchestrated swathes of melody. Morgan sings in a pouting staccato, delivering the pointed line, “When they take us, they won’t know what to do with us.” It’s a credo in the making; a flag raised for all stephaniesid fans.
This is a band that has long flown under the radar — a blessing as it’s afforded them long-term creative control and thus remarkable albums like Excavator. But the world beyond stephaniesid’s reach is missing out. Here’s hoping that imbalance is soon corrected.