There’s not a moment in my day that goes by where I don’t think of my life as a movie. Chances are, you’ve seen this movie. It’s about a boy with little to no direction in life stuck in a dead end town searching for a way out while also searching for his true love. This is the life I lead to a tee. I’m a Joseph Gordon Levitt searching for my Zooey. A Richie searching for his Margot Tenenbaum (Hey, I like that one…). And no good indie-love story would be complete without a moment of quiet reflection while a deep, sad song slowly fades into the background. Of course I’m writing this because I had one of these moments just last week. While walking alone through the beautiful seacoast town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I stopped to look out at the boats at port as they were slowly getting swallowed by dusk. Deep in the recesses of my mind, Unbunny’s “Glacier” slowly started growing louder through my brain. I immediately grabbed my iPod and scrolled to the Black Strawberries album.
It’s no coincidence I was thinking of Unbunny while walking through a chilly Portsmouth’s bustling downtown. Jarid del Deo, the lone member of the “band”, has been recording under the name Unbunny since attending the University of New Hampshire (GO WILDCATS!). While he has made homes in various parts of the country (Including Chicago for the release of Snow Tires, one of the greatest break-up albums to fly under the radar), Unbunny’s Black Strawberries was released while living in Portsmouth on local Two Ton Santa records. While many of Unbunny’s releases tend to not get much press, Black Strawberries is one that a stand out above all their other’s as a real hidden gem of lo-fi folk.
Even great albums can have a throw-away track or two. But it’s incredibly hard to find one on Black Strawberries. The eerie instrumental “Born Blind” fits perfectly on the album. It creates a wonderful bridge between the upbeat poppy intro track “In a Way” to the murky worker anthem “Let it All Burn”. Jarid’s vocals are stinging and temperamental. The first time I heard the folksy “5th of July”, I wanted to consume the rest of the album. He is like a test tube baby of all my favorite vocalists; early Neil Young, Jeff Mangum, Jason Molina and Will Sheff. The previously mentioned “Glacier” has some of the most sentiment on the album. “I said let’s move up to Canada. I know that it’s cold but if you’re unhappy and I’m so faithless, we could be there by early afternoon”. It’s hard to not want to pack up your essential belongings, grab your significant other and start a new life in an unknown town. The entire album has a very unique “lo-fi sing-along” quality to it. “Swans are Fainting” has a browbeaten chorus that constantly has me putting the song on loop, grabbing my guitar and singing along to it. “Freezing Scene’s” use of incongruent sound and upbeat trumpet medley is a perfect contrast for the song’s theme of going off to die in war. The album is capped off by Jarid’s most haunting work on “Northern Spies”. An almost ghostly piano reverberates in the background as his guitar takes you by the hand, leading you through a snowy field of inscrutable lyrics.
I’m sure as the script of my life keeps being revised and shopped out to numerous studios, the soundtrack will be ever evolving. But Unbunny’s Black Strawberries will always have a track somewhere on my OST. I’m sure it will fit in somewhere between Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” and Jeffrey Lewis’ “If You Shoot the Head You Kill the Ghoul”. (F.Y.I. – This entry will no doubt lead to me making an RFC mix of the soundtrack of my life. You’ve been warned.)