Review: Transient Songs, “Foreign Rooms”
By: G. Chad Wolfe
Sophomore albums can be tricky for a band. Either they get swallowed by the success of a debut and go out with a low roar into oblivion, or they stray from the confines of what brought the band notice in the first place. The second album by any outfit is a treacherous position if sought after with too much gusto, ego, et al the demons. Transient Songs’ Foreign Rooms calls to mind the stand tall, yet dirty and imperfect chords of “Caryatid Easy” off Son Volt’s mighty sophomore record, Straightaways. Not only through its unapologetic gruffness, but by the way the album didn’t seem to hit with a bang—a quiet recording waiting to be discovered by those ready to hear.
It’s in that spirit that Transient Song’s second LP Foreign Rooms sets up shop with real instruments—real music for real people as the saying might go. The kind of music where the band actually plugs into an amplifier and cuts fingers on strings. The ethos on Foreign Rooms is as legit as a high school football coach delivering with blood and guts the clarity of an angel raising half-time speech.
A lush roll of sound and heartbreaking lyrics and vocals make this album a loser’s anthem. The album catches stride and rolls into one when guitar merges with drums on the track Haywood, sounding like what Marquee Moon might’ve if Peter Buck contributed to Tom Verlaine’s seminal album back in 1977. Foreign Rooms feels like the line cook’s soundtrack at the end of the night if one were to walk through the kitchen of Las Manitas in Austin, TX, on a whimsical Friday. And all of this is begging the question “where the hell has Transient Songs been my whole life?” But the answer is in the songs, and the spirit of Television, Alejandro Escovedo, and early Whiskeytown hum through the wires while John Frum declares to whoever is listening: “How is the view from the bottom of the well? / Do you feel the ache in your bones when the winter swells? /We are the last of the dying breed/We’re just what’s left of the demon seed.
Chad Wolfe lives and works in Southern Iowa where he’s grown a tremendous appreciation for open spaces, red vs. green tractor polemics, porches, and corn on the cob. When not writing about music, sports, and pop culture for the internet, he tries to avoid thinking too much about the future or the past.