Austin Crane, aka Seattle’s Valley Maker, is currently on tour, with a stop in LA planned for December 11th. He is on the road supporting his recent LP, Rhododenron, a floral release in more ways than one. Images of flowers and growth appear throughout the album, which itself is named after a genus of woody plants that often feature a bright pink blossom. As he sings in the opener, Crane tries to “always see the world in bloom,” even if what grows is nothing more than a weed. Grab your tickets to his performance downtown at Resident here.
Rhododenron moves seamlessly, owing some of its smooth execution to producers Chaz Bear (you know him as Toro y Moi) and Trevor Spencer (who has also worked with Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes). The rest of the credit goes directly to Crane, who drew upon his PhD research when writing the new record. He studies Human Geography, and in tracks like “A Couple Days” and “Be Born Today” he explores how we relate to one another, and the nature of our connections. Describing our relationships based on time almost feels foolish (“I missed you by a couple days”), but, somehow, the knowledge that we are all living and progressing in the same dimension is comforting (“Time, it only takes away / I give a little more each day”).
The new album is easy to listen to; washed out strums meet sunbleached percussion and the occasional faraway background vocals. Its lyricism winds up and around as if written by Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, offering complex wisdom like “Goodness in the timeless aging / Two become one, one became two.” A phantom accompanies Crane in the chorus of the single “Beautiful Birds Flying,” which earned its own tinted music video. Crane speaks of abstract loss, in that he seeks the presence of an old friend without explanation as to what caused their separation—are they dead or are we?