♫♪  talons’ - Work Stories

Flipped Petco Carts. Dull, patchy islands, still sweating under endless Big Box variety. Rabbits caught in parking garages, making beds from shopping bags and loose styrofoam. Behind the Whole Foods bread counter, a life in debt — drying up after a short lifespan of tour and travel, cheap beer and check-to-check comforts somewhere between Akron and Chicago. Have the suburbs won? When five years ago, we dreamt of refuge in an old Chi Chi’s, dodging student loans in Morocco and the sort of shitty homemade forts we’re embarrassed even to mention in song, now everything just drifts on indefinitely. Beyond a purgatory of depressing fast-food lines and karaoke after work, student loans and rising rent in cities we helped, in part, to gentrify, is there really anything left to mourn? When no one remembers our songs, when Brooklyn turns to Queens turns to Jersey turns to a Dusty Oblivion of Shitty Juice Bars and Surge-Priced Uber Cars, what else is there? We took all we could. We always took all we could.

Work Stories is the latest of four EPs that Mike Tolan has been quietly rolling out in preparation for his After Talons’ album, the latest from Talons’. With post-rock origins as part of the faded Six Parts Seven, Talons’ was (still is, I guess) a focus on songwriting, a fleshy universe of a folk project, one when “folk projects” (in concept) are generally, largely, uniformly embarrassing. Far from the pastoral self-indulgence of Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes, Talons’ is a struggle through working-class monotony, the back-breaking estrangement behind years working in a gyro stand — grey, mechanized, suppressed. Here, tracks like “Toms” (which channels dreams of fatherhood into a heartbreaking grasp at optimism) and “Had to Work” (mourning the old show house, boarded up and for-rent after years away working) write Talons’ out of the picture, easing gracefully into the stability of what we all always imagined fatherhood to be. In many ways, it’s the sort of pursuit that’s eternally beyond human grasp, one in which, even with a solution in mind, we’re still all forced to live on, drifting forever forward, one short-lived optimism at a time. There’s something heartbreakingly, regressively, naively beautiful about an attempt to complete the cycle, to write yourself out of a narrative that was mostly dumb Beyoncé ringtones and Steely Dan singalongs to begin with.

The EP’s last track, “Tired of IPAs” is the real center of the release, moving from a shitty summer in a “city with no friends” to watching Lost on a kitchen floor mattress, to growing old and burned out on irony. From missing pregnancies for overtime work, to turning 32, anxious about that 20-week ultrasound, the song is all a song can be — a lifetime of hardship, heartbreak, and loneliness compressed into a five-minute surrender to time. It’s the good in the bad — it’s crying your eyes out behind the wheel of your shitty Scion, racing home to purge every last dumb, gratuitous detail into song — grasping at every ineptitude with all you have. Because what else is there?

Like a tragic Don Quixote, pulling the embarrassing optimism of mid-aughts folk into a hopeless grasp at the tame intimacy of narrative songwriting again, Talons’ is growing up. Burnt out on IPAs, cheap fast food, middle-class heartbreak and minimum wage, Work Stories is love and life and surrender, lullabies sung through speakerphone, shows alone spent staring at the floor, resignation to what our parents did. It’s all that we have and can do. It’s finding the good where we can.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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