Although it just released a new album in late April called Fast Cars, Eugene indie rock quartet Laundry is already working on new material. In the past, the band workshopped new songs playing house shows near the University of Oregon.
With that scene on hiatus, however, on account of the coronavirus, Laundry guitarist and singer Riley Somers says the group of UO students was forced into a different head space this time around.
Whether playing live or in the studio, Laundry strives for a balance between music with studio polish and catchy songs that people want to listen to on their headphones. Also, Somers says, Laundry wants to bring people exciting live shows and connect with an audience.
“We definitely try to cater our music to a live setting,” Somers says. “That’s what we came up on. It’s always been a very integral part of our songwriting process.”
These new songs, he says, are getting a little more care and attention than they might otherwise. “It’s a process that will give us a different product which is kind of interesting,” he says, adding that a Laundry song isn’t really finished until it’s played live.
Not all live performance opportunities for Laundry are gone, or at least delayed. The band was slated to play the second installment of the Virtual Valley Online Music Festival on June 6 on the Twitch platform. That event, a benefit for both the Oregon Food Bank and the Black Lives Matter movement, is now rescheduled to Saturday, June 27, in observance of the nationwide protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.
The band is also scheduled to perform a show promoting the opening of a Zoom+Care clinic in South Eugene. Streaming live on Facebook, the event is rescheduled for June 25 and will benefit FOOD For Lane County.
The songs on Laundry’s current release, Fast Cars, are among the most interconnected on any of the group’s albums to date, employing the classic narrative device of viewing the same set of events from different perspectives.
The musicians, including Kiki Paroissien on guitar and vocals, Nik Barber on drums and Cal Fenner on bass and vocals, collaborate on the songs and lyrics, blending classic guitar-forward college rock with the warm, jammy tones of Phish.
There’s even, at times, the bright and sunny sounds of African highlife music and generally up-tempo beats living right on the edge of punk and ska.
Despite an overall high-energy sound, the music on Laundry’s latest delves into some dark subject matter, like generational wealth and societal privilege, and even touches on murder on the album’s opening track “Odd Man Out.”
“It’s foreshadowing all the events that we’re explaining later on the album,” Somers says. “What led this person to this place of basically lashing out and becoming evil and facing their darkest side?”
Songs like “Millionaire’s Kid” later in the album “kind of exemplify the conditioning that went into this character’s head,” Somer says.
Elsewhere, the song “Hypochondriac” — written well before the pandemic — is about the sweet and painful insanity of falling in and out of love. “It hurts so bad you’re not really sure if there’s something wrong with you,” Somers explains.
“There’s a lot of things that happen to you,” he says. “And the way that you deal with them is the important part. You can choose to let these things that happen to you turn you into a better person or a worse person. It’s all about self-growth.”
Fast Cars is available on all major streaming services and on CD from by mail order from Laundry’s Bandcamp page. The group performs Thursday, June 25 from the offices of Eugene’s new Zoom+Care clinic on Facebook Live, and Saturday June 27, at the next edition of the Virtual Valley Online Music Festival on Twitch.