Eleventh Dream Day incite the type of racket that loosens railway sleepers.
Six years on from their last record, Works For Tomorrow–a record that fell slightly short for those of us who hold such lofty expectations–and the ’Dream Day pop up with Since Grazed; a surprise release that dropped out of the sky. It’s quite typical of this rock behemoth.
And that’s what Eleventh Dream Day are. A behemoth, dripping in sweat from the intense, humid atmospheres in which they create.
Prairie School Freakout still stands as one of the most timeless records of the last four decades, and since the stone-cold classic found its way into the collective bloodstream, Eleventh Dream Day have been stirring the conscience since, producing the rumbling rhythms and choruses that evoke the kind of feeling one gets when hearing the MC5.
Rick Rizzo, Janet Bean (Freakwater), Doug McCombes (Tortoise, Brokeback, Pullman), Mark Greenberg (The Coctails), and James Elkington form a musical bond that is vice-tight. There’s no way to explain such artistic telepathy; everything just fits and with Since Grazed, while Eleventh Dream Day may turn down the sound dial, the results are still tremendous.
The opening title track is a sauntering stakes-are-high sort of lament that most artists would place as their centrepiece rather than open with it. But that’s Eleventh Dream Day for you, and unsurprisingly the hits just keep rolling off the bat.
Cracks in My Smile and Look Out Below sees the band huddled around the campfire, as Rizzo leads the chorus with subtle electric embers that spit and crackle.
Bathed in moonlight, with on Tyrian Purple, Rizzo and Co. take us away from the campfire in favour of a gentle stroll across the quiet shores of a sleepy seaside town. It’s Eleventh Dream Day in a new light and a radiant one at that.
While for the most part Since Grazed is Eleventh Dream Day revelling in the solitude of lock-down, they do crank it up periodically, spearheaded by Yves Klein Blues and A Case to Carry On. Then there’s Take Care, which is a downright barn-yard rocker that Neil Young hasn’t yet written.
“Nothing’s ever lost/Things just disappear/An echo in your ear/It never fades,” sings Rizzo on Nothing’s Ever Lost. A song that is one of the most beautiful, poetic pieces the band has ever written. This is upper-echelon songwriting and the kind of song that brings a tear to the eye. If it doesn’t, then you may just be dead on the inside.
Bean takes the vocal reins on Matter, a dark love story that is quickly enveloped in horror, and her gentle delivery is exactly the type this song needs.
Drawing the curtain on Since Grazed, Every Time This Day It Rains is like a lonely traipse towards the open-road sunset. A fitting conclusion to the album.
“The brightest star you can see is not always a sign,” sings Rizzo in his bar-and- grill brogue on Just Got Home (In Time to Say Goodbye). This line probably encapsulates Since Grazed the best. While the raucous blasts of Prairie School Freakout and El Moodio may be sparse, Eleventh Dream Day are a band moving into a different era. And in doing so, they sound more comfortable than ever.
That’s why Since Grazed is such an important chapter to the Eleventh Dream Day story.
Since Grazed is out now via Comedy Minus One. Purchase from Bandcamp.