StrangeJuice - "High Anxiety"

Listen while you read

          Listening to a StrangeJuice album is often an experience that leads to introspection and exercises in self awareness.  He writes songs that generally refrain from storytelling and opt more for conjuring images and emotions through use of descriptive phrases.  Through his songs I find myself reliving experiences I had let fade into blurry obscurances.  He manages to add clarity and importance to these memories even though his songs are about his own.  I believe he can do this because he doesn't force his thoughts into normal channels, but rather lets them form on their own by whatever inspires them.  He follows his muse rather than trying to lead it.

          Have you ever walked down a path you are very familiar with, but at a time or condition that is not familiar, like late at night or in the fog?  You may be comforted by the preponderance of things you know, but you can be unnerved by an odd sound, displaced object, or the sudden appearance of a stranger.  You are sure you are safe, you know your way, you know you aren't truly alone, and yet you can't help but feel scared and unsure.  This is the sense I get from listening to this album.  It is quite thrilling and enthralling.

Track by track:

1. Rosellas - So I had to look up "rosellas" to find out they are Australian Parrots.  Although this song doesn't appear to be -about- anything in particular, I think it is a rather summery memorabilia.  It conjures images of childhoods spent in lazy abandon being amazed by everyday occurrences.  As always Mike's voice is amazing and carefully lifts and lowers the listener through his remonitions and encourages us to have our own along the way.

2. Colorblind - Psychedelic and hypnotic, this song leads to questions of "Who is Caroline?" and  "How do holes in the ice permit time travel?"  I have an impression that we are facing anxious times and memories of home and family help center and calm us.  Our memories are not always true however they are often "colorblind" and we see what we want to see.

3. Metamorphosis - Talk about a though train.  If my mind were a kite this song would cause it to rise too high into the clouds and beak my string.

4. High School - I could do without the screaming bits.  I love the melody of the chorus, it is enchanting.  And yes this song evokes memories of school in an abstract unfocused design.

5. Siberia - Beautiful and haunting.  Intimate, caressing, and threatening.

6. Sugar for Horses - This song suffers a bit from it's placement on the record and similarity rhythmically to other tracks.  I rather enjoy it when it comes up in random play more than I do when listening through the album.

7. The Clinic - This song makes me think more of "The Sound of Prozac", an earlier record.  It is troubling and uncomfortable to listen to which makes it one of my favorite tracks.

8. Banksia Ward - Rather a straight forward Indie Pop song about a hospital, institution, or nursing home.  I think it was written from the perspective of someone working there, but I am more familiar with visiting family in there places, particularly my mother, and so I interpreted the song in that regard.  The song captures the bright, lack of shadows, no where to hide, totally exposed feeling I get in these places.

9. Things I Had Forgotten - Flowing through memories and reliving the past seems to be a theme throughout this record.  Much like "Rosellas" this song leads the listener through their own memories while incanting his own.

10. 21st Century Christ Child - A progressive rock ballad.

11. Chew Chew Girls - A fairly straight forward indie pop song.

12. Teen - For some reason this song conjures an image of follow the leader being played by a group of kids marching through the countryside with banners waving and laughter filled air.

13. Rock Biter - A song with a story based on a case of obsessive behavior.  The empathy within the track is palatable.

14. Cannibals - My favorite song on this record.  It is like a surreal nursery rhyme or Grimm's Fairy Tale.

15. Pure Beauty - A real rocker, it seems out of place on the record but does showcase his versatility.
16. The Picnic - Inspired by the novel which was made into a Peter Weir film "Picnic at Hanging Rock". I never read the book but the film still plagues on my mind from time to time...

17. Iron Horse - The chorus is a rousing pub anthem, tankards held high and voices raised in good cheer.  There is a naughtiness in these lyrics reminiscent of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".

18. Raincoat - A sweet little bit of indie pop.

19. August 22 - This song really embodies the whole feeling of "High Anxiety" with its swings from happy upbeat tempos to key changes that add suspicion and tension.

If you check out StangeJuice's facebook page you may still be able to request one of the extremely limited physical CDs - otherwise you will have to score this one digitally.


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