Album Review: Unlikely Friends – Solid Gold Cowboys

Unlikely Friends is a band that really is described by anything but the band’s name choice. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised the band hasn’t existed up until this point. A collaboration between D. Crane of BOAT and Charles Bert of Math and Physics Club with the help of Chris Mac on drums seems like a match made in Seattle indie rock heaven. And hey, turns out it totally is – the band’s debut as Unlikely Friends drops this week in the form of Solid Gold Cowboys, and it is 100% bonafide gold. Make twenty six minutes happen in your schedule to listen to this record today, and there is no question, it will be a better day regardless of how soft your reputation is.

“I’m a 21st century American male, I make a wheezing sound whenever I exhale.” D. Crane opens the record with “Ride Off Into The Sunset”, a tribute to the Saturday that never comes where you’ll ride away from all the crap you take from the man that holds you down. While the lineup has shifted a bit, the lyrical content hasn’t. Unlikely Friends are all about taking the mundane of the everyday grind and making it enough of an emotional investment to write a song about it. “Soft Reputation” picks up where that one leaves off with the self deprecation. It’s a phenomenal testament to 21st century social anxiety and the problem of comfort. The themes at hand here feel more BOAT than Math and Physics, but Bert plays along just fine, adding lush guitars and complimentary vocals all over the place to make this one of the prettiest records the two have worked on, despite its own desired fuzziness.

When the real fusion between Crane and Bert happens, it’s magical. Songs like “Satellite Station” put the two back and forth on the vocals over a ripping rock track whose chorus shows off jangling Smiths-esque guitars. Ending the record, “Gold Hills Theme” and “Gold Coast Marauders” takes the tone of the record down a bit for a more serious number. The result is really beautiful. The “Theme” is a somber look out over a brighter horizon, while “Marauders” makes the best of the moment despite confusion about what’s next. “Take me to the place where I thought I was from”, Crane sings, finding himself in the anxious place between progress and comfort. For a record that otherwise talks about pizza, getting sunken eyes from staying up all night, and complains about overbearing girlfriends and pasta alfredo, the ominous cloud of the future seems to shadow the gleam of the gold of the record just enough for context. After all, Unlikely Friends aren’t just another slacker band making music for their friends – they are master songwriters working together for maximum pop effect, and that’s what we get here on Solid Gold Cowboys. I hope to god they keep this side project up because twenty six minutes is not nearly enough of this magic to tide me over for years to come.

Solid Gold Cowboys is out now! Buy it on tape at Mirror Universe Tapes or on CD at Jigsaw Records (digital at both). Unlikely Friends will be playing a record release show on February 21 at the Rendezvous! We saw them in December and loved every minute. Grab tickets here.

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