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Risley composite photo – Photo Credit: Risley
Portland, Oregon-based four-piece Risley (pronounced Riz-lee) are following up their 2016 self-titled debut today with their new long player Meantime Fades.
Fittingly enough for a record that sees its release during a pandemic, much of the album deals with modern-day isolation and a yearning for togetherness.
In addition to his band Risley, singer/guitarist Michael Deresh is known in Portland for his work with Lamplight Recording Studio, PDX Pop Now!, and his prior band Tea For Julie.
While his first release with Risley included over 12 musicians from a roster of local bands (Julie, Genders, Sunbathe, Typhoon), Risley’s new album has coalesced around a lineup of Jaime Hazerian (who also spends time touring with Pinback), Tim Skerpon, and Cris Whitcomb.
Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of the album on its release day.
Meantime Fades effortlessly flows between lush indie pop soundscapes, dusty Americana-inspired jams, and propulsive indie rock numbers, serving as a positive and refreshing distraction during these trying times.
Album opener “Break the Spell” vibrantly shimmers with longing, indie rocker “Hunted” restlessly flies by, and the road trip through the West Coast that is “Calico” plies a harmonious Americana vibe.
Tracks like “Haunted” and “Missed Connection” ride a darker post-punk wave, “Walls Can’t Hold” burns with fiery guitar licks, and the more reflective “Before We Say Goodnight” is filled with a wistful, heartfelt nostalgia.
Michael Deresh gives some insight about the album, revealing, “Meantime Fades is unabashedly a guitar record. It may not be consistently loud and raucous throughout, but there is always a web of interlocking guitar melodies woven together, whether in heroics or lush tapestry that provide a constant backdrop.”
“Thematically, it’s a record about finding ourselves and each other again, amidst the barren and isolating landscape of modern day. There is an overarching reach towards connection, togetherness, and giving ourselves over to possibility.”
“Tracking began in the months before the pandemic, but the album was largely finished and filled in over the last year of lockdown at our studio (Lamplight Studio) in Portland.”
Order Meantime Fades at Bandcamp
The vinyl release of the album features 13 tracks, with an additional 6 bonus tracks if ordered via digital platforms.
Michael Deresh and Jamie Hazerian kindly took part in detailing their album’s songs in a Track-By-Track rundown. Find out more compelling info about the music below:
1. Michael Deresh on “Break the Spell”
““Break the Spell” is a call to arms. For all the things and conveniences we have, our lives can seem more empty and complicated. For all the supposed connectivity we have access to, our lives can seem more isolated than ever. We can get anything at the touch of a button. So, nothing seems special anymore. We can get the real answers to most of our questions with a click. We can get the answers we want to hear with the same click. So, there’s no feeling of mystery anymore. Sometimes, it feels like we’re under a spell while we’re in a nose dive. It might be time to wake up.”
2. Michael Deresh on “Western Glow”
“The west is used here as a metaphor for any illusory and elusive beacon of magical deliverance. There’s a story arc in many of these narratives that goes from wide eyed and naïve to disillusioned and jaded. This one delivers that message but goes further to say “Hey, you never know though?” Lol”
3. Michael Deresh on “Hunted”
“There’s that point after the end of a relationship, a rough patch or a stretch of time spent closed up, that you really become ready to invite the world in again. It’s the moment that you allow the potential of the unknown back in and allow what’s possible. ‘Hunted’ is when you turn that corner and truly give yourself over to whatever the world wants to do with you. It’s a song of liberation.”
4. Jamie Hazerian on “Missed Connection”
““Missed Connection” is one my favorites on this album. Listening to it makes me feel like I’m driving in a car with friends. The bounciness of it makes it feel like you want to be moving. It was one of the first songs I heard when I joined the band and the feeling of the song really grabbed me.”
5. Jamie Hazerian on “Calico”
“So “Calico” makes me feel like it’s the ’90s. I wrote some of my parts for it as we were recording. It was written so close to when we went into the studio that there was very little attachment to it. But after we played the songs to our close circle everyone came back and said it was one to be on the album. So we finished the song and now that I listen back it’s definitely one of my favorites because I feel like I can listen to that song from the perspective of an outside listener, not as someone in the band.”
6. Michael Deresh on “Closer Than” –
“It’s that magic gravity that only comes along a few times in a lifetime, if we’re lucky. On rare occasion, another person’s gravity can come through like a comet. It’s as simple as not wanting to let go of that drug.”
7. Michael Deresh on “Fortune Cookie”
“This song evolved from a jam in practice on a hot, sunny afternoon. Jaime had started playing these lovely chords and our drummer Tim picked up his flute, started playing along and it all took flight. Lyrically, it ended up embodying a wish to transcend the noise and definition of our lives to simply exist, suspended in the little moments.”
8. Michael Deresh on “Yard”
“When we’re kids, before we ever leave home, we know every inch of our environment: every tree, rock and blade of grass, every closet, chair leg or tchotchkie on the shelf. And, in a way, that familiarity is safety and security. It’s our world. It’s home. At a certain age, the urge to go far and wide can take us over and move us to search the world for something, we know not what. Often, we can spend the rest of our lives trying to get back, trying to get it back. Home is a difficult thing to ever recreate or go back to.”
9. Michael Deresh on “Gift”
“At just over a minute, it’s the shortest track, by far. However, a lot happens in that time. It’s about finding yourself beaten and worn down by a patch of life, having all your armor eroded by a series of circumstances. Yet, in that moment, you can find liberation. Rather than continuing to fight the current, you can turn and let it take you. Sometimes, you can find a light in the distance.”
10. Michael Deresh on “Walls Can’t Hold”
“This spastic rocker covers a lot of ground musically and lyrically, yet the theme is simple and unified; Resist containment, cease the day, bust free! The statistical chances of your existence were infinitesimal, yet here you are. What are you gonna do with yourself and this time? The chance of finding true and meaningful love is far smaller than our films would have us think. What are you going to do with it if you’re lucky enough to find it? If you have the chance, don’t hesitate. You might not get it again.”
11. Michael Deresh on “Lights”
“This song almost didn’t make the cut until we made the cut. That is, we chopped off the first minute and a half. Now, it just starts with the first chorus and is verseless. It was a win. It’s about lightning in a bottle. Often, we don’t know which moments, days or nights of our lives will end up burned in as lifelong memories. It can be random sometimes. This is about those rare times when you know. You know it’s going to be one of those times that you’ll never forget. You know while you’re still inside the moment and can look around and take it in on a different level.”
12. Michael Deresh on “Before We Say Goodnight”
“This one also evolved from something we’d been jamming on in practice. We ran out of songs at a sold out show and everyone was still calling for an encore. After a quick huddle, we decided to play the jam from rehearsal. It ended up being an inspired moment that was thankfully recorded. We really ended up going back quite a bit to that performance to mine it for parts.”
13. Michael Deresh on “Curtains”
“This song is a perfect closer to the vinyl. It’s a pensive song that touches on a feeling of being part of something ancient, feeling the weight and gift of that, yet also being always aware of how finite our time in the chain is.”
14. Michael Deresh on “Golden Hour” (Bonus Track) –
“If “Lights” espouses the idea of moments that stay with you, in the macro, “Golden Hour” is one of those moments in the micro. It’s a portal back to, in this case, the beginning of a relationship; to a time when you truly believed in it’s possibility, when you made promises and meant them. Everything looked better in that moment’s warm light. It was hard to have any of these tracks cut from the vinyl and relegated to the digital domain of ‘Bonus Tracks’ but in the end …”
15. Michael Deresh on “Lost in the Sky” –
“This waltz is a love letter to love through the lens of sun-blanched skin and time standing still, suspended. The sea is used literally and metaphorically. It’s the longest song of the batch and the second half is the most complex, musically. It’s length and different feel played into its place in the bonus tracks but we’re still really excited to share it and have it be heard.”
16. Michael Deresh on “Good as Gold”
“This song touches on some of the same themes as others but essentially is an anthem for knowing what’s really important and giving yourself over to it. It’s about appreciating those enchanted little moments and recognizing love as the goal. It has a bit of a shoe gazer/4AD vibe, musically.”
17. Michael Deresh on “Scare”
“My grandma always had great sayings. The chorus was one of them. Essentially, it means “I’ll take the stress of something bad’s potential over the thing actually coming to fruition. These days, we all have our share of worry and anxiety. Things have been heavy. There’s a lot to worry about. So, let’s hope things turn out better than we fear, no? It’s a creepy sounding song in the best way. I wish there was room for this one on the vinyl.”
18. Michael Deresh on “Into Dust”
“We covered this classic Mazzy Star song at a few shows and Tim, once again, brought out his flute to sprinkle it with magic. We stuck to the lyrics faithfully but it ended up being a loose interpretation, musically. The original has no real dynamic. Unless everyone is seated, that’s tough to maintain live and to diminishing returns. We ended up giving it a lift, inserting a couple of anthemic surges that soar and give contrast to the droning verses. It ended up making the cover more our own. I’d love to know what Hope would think. I like to imagine we’d have her blessing.”
19. Michael Deresh on “Haunted”
““Haunted” is the alter ego of “Hunted.” It’s an alternate take on the same song. At 180 bpm, Hunted sets an undeniable and feverish pace, while Haunted exists in an open and lush landscape, set to the heartbeat of the kick drum. They’re the only songs that share common DNA but together showcase very different sides to the band’s dynamic. Part of me loves the penumbra more than the umbra. It was the perfect way to close out the bonus tracks.”
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