Alex Calder

Intentional or not, the bedroom recordings that became Bend have a well-worked progression to them. The collection, which comes in cassette form and is available from Captured Tracks now, seems to be broken into acts. While we aren’t sure if they were recorded in a particular order or if the results of his hard work were songwriting kismet, the sessions feel like Calder taking one step, finding a comfortable space to exist in, then progressing yet another step.

“Foam” introduces the album in a slightly brittle fashion – a skeleton is there, while the foundation is settling in. The spacey wobble of the track attempts to navigate all of the proverbial “this.” The perfectly timed misalignments on “Out of Tune” seem to mirror life’s distractions during the seemingly feeble attempts at figuring things out. So while a lot of people view transition as drastic alterations to one’s routine or being, Calder seems to be more patient and more thoughtful in approaching what lies ahead. This isn’t to say he doesn’t experience his frustrations or setbacks, but they seem to transpire in a way that includes learning from the moment.

This journey seems personal, but there’s an honesty to it that welcomes outside observation. “Wire Way” is a hypnotic incantation that feels like a communal chant or breathing exercise that creates an ease to any tension you may witness. You also get a taste of Calder growing into his skill as a songwriter. “Real Life” is if a John Carpenter soundtrack took on an early 90s skate vibe, while the mood seems to age well heading towards the back-half of the album. “Goodbye” is an end that feels like a “see ya later” to the past and a hello to the third act of the compilation.

A bit older now, Calder takes a look back on things so far on “Born in Another Time.” It’s a glimpse like walking in double-time through specifically observant memories while considering how to handle the way you perceive where you feel like your place in this world is. “Fade” then focus his gaze on a mirror – changes are happening, time is moving on, and now it’s time to figure out where the road between dreams and reality runs. The soundtrack to shaking up the routine is present on “Great Ideas,” and then things are tied up with a glance at an uncertain future that just needs to be faced as “Shaking My Years Away” wraps everything up.”

Is Bend one of the most unexpectedly relatable releases we’ve heard recently? Maybe. One thing is certain though – you shouldn’t be surprised by the narrative woven given Calder’s growth since going solo a few years ago. So do the right thing, and start rebuilding that cassette collection like you’ve been meaning to. Joey Smith