somebody had to by Tennessee-based artist phoneswithchords is a landmark release for many reasons. As The Alternative noted on Twitter, “phoneswithchords has been one of the most unique voices in the scene for a while, and this is his opus.” It also happens to be TRR040 (our cat number system is a bit flawed but either way, that’s a lot of stuff we’ve put out and probably worth noting).
We loved last year’s fantastic debut Cut The Kid on Z Tapes, and jumped at the chance to get involved in a co-release this time around with the followup (before even hearing any of the new tracks). Of course, once the music did start rolling it, it was obvious that the right choice had been made. Arthur Alligood’s songwriting has been flawless from the start, but the atmosphere and production took a huge leap forward with the new collection, bringing more danceable elements and an even deeper nostalgic haze to the lo-fi feel we got to know already.
It’s a given that the songs sound great – the highly quotable lyrics are pure poetry and the balance of guitar, electronics, and beats is so tastefully thoughtful that it’s easy to get lost in the washes of sound before even really hearing the songs – but the stories are what truly hook you. This one is heavy on a kind of relatable self-reflection, with grief, love, and appreciation woven throughout the tales of high school punks, family, and place. There’s a darkness here somehow colored with bright hues.
It’s not the norm to write these after release day, but that’s where we are right now. It offers a unique perspective to hear how people are receiving a piece of art that can change how you see it yourself, even after spending months (or years) with it yourself and building your own connection to it. Unsurprisingly, existing fans and those coming with totally fresh ears saw the same thing – a beautiful, raw, emotional record in which the artist gave their whole self to the process, and the results are at once challenging and immediately accessible and overwhelmingly likable. It’s a great thing to see happen.
“I spent years thinking I might be crazy, but now I know you’re the one that I need.”