Every Record I Own: Local Tourist – Other Ways of Living

Every Record I Own: Local Tourist – Other Ways of Living

I bought this album last year after only listening a couple of times. It was released by Melted Ice Cream, a Christchurch record label run by an old friend of mine, and another old friend played bass and recorded it.

Erin Umstead lived in Christchurch for a few years but had to move back to the US because of visa issues, and this album was recorded in the few days before she had to leave.

Everything is recorded incredibly beautifully, and sounds very polished, so this is quite surprising. But it shows how polished the band must have been ahead of recording.

The opening riff sets a precedent for the album which holds true throughout. Spacious guitar, wet with reverb and tremolo. The bass syncs in with the guitar seamlessly, sounding less like a driving rhythm section and more like a natural occurrence. Breathy vocals and brushed snare drums round out the sound.

It’s all very pretty, but somewhat deceptively. It’s louder more complex than you initially realise. It’s easy to fall into it and let it flow over you. The songs don’t distinguish themselves from each other much. The tempo stays pretty similar, the tone constant, and there’s a drone that hangs around from the reverb. The vocals melodies are reasonably similar and they blend into the rest of the music very naturally. The album feels very cohesive and sure of itself, but without listening intentionally it can sort of float by.

There are however a handful of moments that draw your attention in. When Erin sings Huh Huh in I am Water, one of the album’s stand out tracks, my ears prick up. It swells naturally out of the pretty lull which leaves you questioning where it came from.

Dark, the album’s closing track is also a stand out. There’s a more conventional chord progression driving the song forward. The drums use a lot more toms and less brushes and a tremolo’d guitar loop takes up the high frequencies replacing the feedbacky drone that has been constant in the rest of the album. Erin’s vocals don’t sink into the music like they do in the other songs, but stand over them. They are not dissimilar but feel more confident. It’s a really nice way to end an album.

I’d say this has been one of my most listened to albums of the year, despite not knowing it anywhere near as well as some of my others.

One downside is that it is on clear vinyl, which makes it so hard to see the groves between the songs, so when I was playing records at the Sprig the other day, I had to play side one track one (Colors) rather than the intended track (Dark) because I couldn’t find it in time. I’m personally a fan of black vinyl, but coloured is all good. Clear and white are the only two I don’t like. (I just checked on bandcamp and there is a black vinyl version of this too, but the record store I got it from only had the clear)

Fave tracks: Colors, I am Water, Dark