Octoberman – Run From Safety
Record Label: White Whale Records
Release Date: August 21, 2007
During my brief, futile attempts at writing fiction I have become enamored with the third person omniscient point of view. I guess some sort of irony compels me to write from an all-knowing mindset. Truthfully, it’s childish and naïve of me to do so. Plus, everyone hates a know-it-all. But you didn’t click any links to see me berating myself (If it ain’t clear by now, I’m a poor self-editor. - Blake). All of this doubt emerged while drifting in and out of a turkey coma with Octoberman’sRun From Safety swaying gently in the background. Marc Morrissette doesn’t pretend for one second that he knows what the heck is going on around him. He even starts the album with, “Where did we go wrong, my friends? / Why can’t we just push through?” I was graciously allowed to tagalong as he seeks to answer such questions. On an even more personal note, as I search for further forms of inspiration, Morrissette (inadvertently) gave me a healthy slap to the face in “Once In A Blue”: “And I’m hoping this indecision / Will force you to / Think for yourself.” Me too, Mr. Morrissette. Me too.
In a similar vein as earlier Modest Mouse, Octoberman mix elements of folk, grunge and psychadelia to create something that, really, isn’t “in the vein” of anything. Morrissette has a voice that is strangely timid compared to his absurdly strong convictions. He might not become maniacal like Isaac Brock (as horn-filled, acoustic ballad “Run From Safety” and heartstring-pulling, violin-playing “Chasing Ambulances” illustrate), but he has no problem commanding attention. At various points I found myself hanging on his every word, on every new mood, on every note. “Cisco Kid” is a perfect example. Twangy guitars and a large heaping of Americana transform the meaning of sparse. Morrissette weaves unbelievable stories that have to be true. If they aren’t, what can we believe? Melodramatic, sure, but that’s the point. “No Qualms” layers guitar upon guitar upon guitar, and it’s truly entrancing. But Morrissette steals another show. Once he hits a wavering falsetto over simple handclaps, Run From Safety ceases being “another album.” It becomes a friend to turn to in difficult times. Maybe I should seek help from my living, breathing friends, but in the words of Morrissette, “I’ve got no qualms about it / Why would I?” We all deal our own way.
Run From Safety might be Morrissette’s pinnacle, but the instrumentation added by trumpeter Shaun Brodie, guitarist Peter Doig and lap steelist (or is it steeler?) Kris Hooper (among others) brings this grand vision to life. Pretty much everyone becomes involved on “Elbow Room.” The song hints at insanity and the frisky percussion stands in direct opposition to a lethargic Morrissette (who actually sings, “Slow down, big guy”). The overpowering effect of quickly shifting moods and tempos, coupled with lyrics about listening to the voices in your head, well, confusion can be wonderful. Basically, Run From Safety should be at the top of your brief list of albums to check out. If I had been on the ball, this might have landed in my meaningless Top 10 of 2007. Let the sinking in begin.
Recommended If You Like: Modest Mouse, Kids These Days, love stories with no love, Calexico, sweating psychologists