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Parker Longbough

Green And Gold / Drink The Hemlock
(Wilderhood Music)
Release Date: November 22, 2019

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Fuzzy guitars and stiff truths make up the heart of Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock, the fourth full length album from Parker Longbough. Like many indie rock veterans, Parker Longbough, the recording name of Anchorage native Matthew Witthoeft, has been doing this for a while. His 2006 debut, Commander Comatose, was well-received, receiving accolades from the likes of NPR and the then-nascent blogging community. He has been growing up and writing albums about it along the way, making music that people immediately connected to, making music that in many ways sounded familiar.

It is easy to understand why. Commander Comatose, and all of Witthoeft’s work, takes its spine from the guitar rumble of Built to Spill, the glittering roar of Beat Happening, the loosely held melodic model of shoegazers like Pavement. The likenesses were pointed out through his second release, Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo Fi, and again with his third album Left on Tri. But Parker Longbough is not a project of influences, and on Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock Witthoeft grows up, slows down, and stands out.

Adding drummer Eric Price (Wagner Logic, Smile Ease), the album starts with rumination and stays there. “The Statement is the Answer” starts with a sparkle, the kind of scuzzy guitar line that feels like it belongs in a college dorm, until you realize Witthoeft isn’t singing about teen ennui, he’s on the other side now. Looking at how parents are still kids at heart, at the small strangeness of everyday life, the garage aesthetic is firmly brought to the family table.

From there the album veers to the intimate, painting a portrait with a voice like Liam Gallagher’s – at once affected and distant, peering into the world he’s created and writing a postcard to report what he’s witnessed. He shoots levity through the scene he’s painting with spliced in samples of the news reporting snow on the LA beaches (“Burbank Safari”), crunchy basslines opening a song called “We Go Golfing”, and lyrics like Is he really that tall? (“Governors (Butter) Cup”). It’s complex. It’s familiar. It reminds you that most things you love are often both.

Witthoeft knocks down that familiar wall of guitars at the album’s close and in the rubble of all that noise, sings very simply, so happy in Anchorage/ why build a castle anywhere else? (“Sleep Comfortably”).

Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock is an album about growing up, about your life changing, about your sense of humor never changing. It is a portrait of those of us who grew up with our banged-up Chucks pushed against a subwoofer, who dreamed of leaving, who would now never dream of leaving. It sounds like something you know, but for a time in your life that you never knew was possible.


Photos: Karen Aleksa


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