"One time," says Jim Schwartz, "our friend told us that 'Innaway was cool for kids who have never heard of Pink Floyd.' Yes, an insult. But he was drunk."
And I'm sober, but it's true: Jim's band Innaway is cool for kids who have never heard Pink Floyd, or Led Zeppelin, or (wherever such kids might be chained or starving) Radiohead. But Innaway is cool for kids who have heard Pink Floyd too, who know who Syd Barrett is and why he's hard to get ahold of now, who like Eno's BeforeandAfterSciencebecause TigerMountainisn't romantic enough. A record for the rock & roll literate, then: Innaway's first self-titled album, which curled over an entire year from home recording to production by Tortoise's Jim McIntire to a release on formidable indie label Some, is one of those deep and sleepy sets of songs for drawn curtains and low lights. If you close the door, the night could last, well, at least till the end of this guitar solo.
I'm a child of the '70s too, so I was born for this kind of fallout: the Kinks going hillbilly, Pink Floyd going darker, Can getting into monster movies, even Black Sabbath sliding from paranoia to reality . . . people talk about mind-expanding and so on in the '60s, and certainly music did seem to have opened up then, more so than super-tight James Brown or super-slick Motown just five or six years before; it's funny that bands started getting into space just about the time we stopped sending astronauts there. But technology never sounded dustier than in the '70s, too, not since before the thick black wax of the '30s (it's like these sounds aren't allowed to exist anymore, says Arthurmag, reviewing a dub collection), and Innaway has found that analog character, whether or not they had to use digital to fake it. There's a warmness (a humanness?) and a sadness (a nostalgia?) from those times that takes some art to catch now, but it's still around, if elusive; there's fundamental formal perfection in a single note squeezed from a Telecaster into a Reverb Twin, an ambient component as necessary to this certain sort of rock & roll as the songs themselves. And so Innaway—a baby band, Jim says he must keep reminding himself, just done with their very first album—takes its baby steps toward both: their own songs, and the right sounds to put them in.
Though honestly, guys, Radiohead is all over this. Though honestly again, Radiohead never had quite that sense of a sunny afternoon (or, more accurately, that sunny California kind of sunset, the pink 5 o'clock light falling through the power lines to the lawn) that Orange County so generously (and tragically) encourages; while Innaway might be in the same spot Radiohead was in several years ago, they are heading in the opposite direction. Sound-wise, I mean! "We just wanna play what feels good," says Jim—writes Jim, in an e-mail, so I'm not sure how apologetic he is, but then again: play what feels good, don't we all?
Innaway is a gentle listen even when they play loud, and an easy listen even when they sound sad ("Show me something that you do to yourself/Can we live this life . . .") And they trace their outlines carefully, with a first song ("Threathawk") that sounds like Zep pounding on Can and a last song ("George Walker on Water") that starts like the Beatles or the Kinks (as in "Nothin' in the world can stop me worryin' . . ."). Flaming Lips might not be so off, either—there's an electronic gloss over at least two of Innaway's songs, a soft machine shine on the keys (Reid Black) and drums (Gabe Palmer) that could pitch the band to the KCRW crowd. But while drummer Palmer (alongside bassist Darrick Rasmussen) pantomimes Bonham's low-end sound, he mostly exercises plenty of restraint; Innaway writes for texture, not for rhythm, and when they kick in—the whiplash guitar on "Stolen Days" or the coda to the single "Rise," with twinned guitar lines (guitarist/singer Jim and other guitarist Barry Fader) that sound like Queen, guys!—it's a signal for conclusion more often than a chorus. Not propulsive but pensive (such an overused word, but how else would you describe a guy staring seriously across his effects pedals and singing something like, "So the sun is on the rise . . .") and not moody but melancholy, and not new but old, on purpose. It feels good for them to play, and it feels good for us to listen to because it reminds of us of things we love, which for me and probably for them happen to be some other very great bands—that after-hours dusk-to-dawn feel is just honest nostalgia. I lose the lyrics in the songs (sometimes not a bad thing: the Tommyquote comes in like two radio stations spilling into each other and the line about being numb is a little uncomfortable), but I feel like I still get exactly what they're talking about. For a baby band, that's where you want to be.
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INNAWAY CD RELEASE WITH RUN RUN RUN AT DETROIT BAR, 843 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 642-0600; WWW.DETROITBAR.COM. THURS., JUNE 16, 9 PM. $5. 21+. ORDER INNAWAY'S SELF-TITLED ALBUM FROM WWW.SOME.COM.