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Chicago, United States

Credit - Ryan and Kelly Klockner

‘Artifacts’ by This August Age is a stunning and experimental album that delves deep into the psyche and hardly ever comes up for air. Its sounds and structure are wholly unique and lend themselves brilliantly to the songs that ‘Artifacts’ contains. Whether the songs blare out mournful piano into the solstice or they tinkle the keys as they alight on the melody, they are driven by an underlying presence, a stature of proud and warm tones and distinct vocal harmonies. It's a through-line as strong as any I’ve heard, and it definitely makes you sure that you are listening to This August Age from the moment you press play. The tone is undeniable, fresh and new. An album that speaks to itself as much as it will to you.

This August Age has deepened their connection to those, and the world, around them through these songs and you can feel it in the melodies and hear it in the lyrics. ‘First In Line’ is set in a wide-open room, the cymbals wash over bare walls as the funky bass and plucked strings step in time to the tempo, a scaling melody that grows in complexity and height as the song progresses. The vocals step in and the stage is set, the song becomes whole. The sound is hard to place. American rock/pop influence and indie rock have their hooks in the sound but they don't define it. Songs like ‘Took It Back’ and ‘Caterpillar’ use piano as a major theme. The former in a solemn and slow atmosphere setting wash and the latter in a chip and upbeat melodic rush. These decisions in tone speak to a country or folk influence, switching up the sound and enlivening the album overall.

‘Artifacts’ is full of heavy hitters from all angles. ‘Carousel’ and its deep and mellow ballad vibe. Its strings sigh in the back against a wall of piano, the vocals sway in front and the drums hit each star in the midnight sky. It’s a picture in a song and it's heartwrenching. Twist on your toes and you’ll be hit with the funk and pop stylings of ‘Philanderer’s Lament’ which has folk roots and big band sounds. It's fast and uses some discordant chords and a piano progression to hold the song together in a catchy and dance-worthy bundle of harmonic joy. ‘Tattoo’ takes the tone and instrumental ideas from ‘Caterpillar’ and builds on them. The song follows a clear story and lines up the emotional pins, knocking each and every one down by the end with its summit of piano and strings, swelling to the point of bursting.

‘Here With You’ is a song that plays with all of the musical ideas that This August Age has implemented in ‘Artifacts’. It's bright, it's dark, it's warm and it's cold. A song about love and somewhat about loss. The instrumental and the vocals separate and dance a duet together on a starlit stage. It is a sight to behold and a wonderful end to the album. An emotional catchall, ‘Here With You’ will make sure you get the message and the melody and hold on to them for a long time coming.

It’s not truly the end, however; and ‘First In Line’ was not truly the beginning. ‘Artifacts’ starts with ‘A Note From the Author’, a contextual setting up of the album. This August Age talks to us through song, introducing us to the themes and ideas of the album. We feel welcome, at home. The album ends, with ‘Epilogue’. Strings and vocals take pride and place and send us onward with new messages and emotions tucked in our knapsacks. These two songs embody the notion of ‘Artifacts’. This is not simply an album, a note or a letter. It is a book, an entire story, a life. One that, here, has been relayed through song and sound. It is a pleasure to listen to and get to know oneself a little better through the trials and emotional tribulations of another musical soul. To that end, I thank you, This August Age, for sharing with the world your ‘Artifacts’ and allowing us to make them our own.

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