The year is 1993, you’re at the mall with your friends (before the term “BFF” even existed – sorry kids), you’re flipping through the racks/bins at your favorite Musicland owned enterprise, sipping an Orange Julius, staring at the edgy/pretentious individual behind the counter wishing you could simultaneously work in their shoes and date them. Overhead, cheap drop-ceiling speakers are playing “Hey Jealousy” and life is good. Flash-forward 30 years, you’re trying to figure out how you got here. It is not your beautiful house, it is not your beautiful wife, and you’re not sure if “on fleek” is still a thing; much less what it meant in the first place. If you or a loved one knows this feeling or if you slightly smiled because it rings too real for you, you’re not alone. Texas-based indie maestro of all things acoustic introspective post-punk/rock, with perhaps a small dose of cynicism, Jared Putnam is right there with us. As The March Divide, Putnam is releasing his sixth album Lost Causes June 10th on Slowstart Records.
Lost Causes carries a heavy weight of lyrical tone, ample amounts of The March Divide, and a plethora of experimentation unknown to Putnam’s sound up to this point. The ten tracks deviate slightly for those who have followed the accomplished career of The March Divide but not so much we’re outside the realm of why we are drawn to his music. Throughout the record an air of throwback feeling melodies pair with optimistic instrumental backing to take The March Divide’s cathartic honesty and make it feel more present than ever. There are lingering 90s fades subtly dropped amongst the intentional mindfulness Putnam has achieved record after record. Case in point, in “Tension In The Air” he sings “I feel more lost/the more I gain/I lost touch with myself/somewhere along the way/if you try to find me/I won’t be here/I need a break from the tension/that’s in the air” without gimmick. It is as if he’s shining a light of possibility on the darkness of late night thoughts and coming to terms with them throughout Lost Causes. Each track offers a delicious new subtle variant on The March Divide, even pairing with the immensely captivating vocals of Kim Barker of Brightwire on the album closer “This World is Gonna End.”
While there is an air of energy drawn from the ethos of some of the most lasting sounds of decades past, The March Divide holds tightly to the recognizable sound honed, but never settled, over the last decade. With help from friends Ernie Garcia (bass) and Jason West (drums) the acoustic hook melodies and thought-provoking lyricism of Putnam gain flight. Mixed and Mastered by Mike Major (At The Drive-In, Coheed and Cambria) The March Divide balances with talents that truly understand the direction of Lost Causes. They are chances that are deeply rooted in subconscious soundtracks that have been spinning on the radio for three-plus decades refreshingly sifted through the cynical observations of years of miles under the tires from one of the most important Texas musicians you may have never heard of. Ten years and six albums deep, Lost Causes confidently extinguishes any notions of complacency from The March Divide.