Parker Longbough is the recording nom de plume of Anchorage Alaska musical artist, Matthew Witthoeft. His latest album – his fourth – is set for release on November 22, while new single, ‘Avalanche Beacon’, comes out on October 11.
The first thing you notice about ‘Avalanche Beacon’ is the fierce instrumentation. The guitars come straight out of the gate, sounding almost like violins, accompanied by a gentle percussion provided by drummer Eric Price whose role is to keep up the pace, before being joined by Witthoeft’s drawly vocals. Sounding every bit like the love child of Lou Reed and Nick Cave (or maybe there’s an uncertain parentage, because surely Robert Smith, Morrissey, and They Might Be Giants have played a part?), he jam-packs humorous lyrics into his song, just as fast as the music. The song seems to be about a relationship that’s been on the rocks for a while, mostly because he won’t commit to the relationship: he jokes about it all; but deep down this is the most important thing in his life – and he only realises fully at the end. The final death knell sounds because Witthoelft has lost the other’s avalanche beacon…he tries to salvage it by saying he’ll replace it on the 15th. We don’t know if reconciliation ever happened, but if it were me, I’d not have him back.
Parker Longbough’s first album, ‘Commander Comatose’, was released back in 2006, and was critically acclaimed by NPR as well as the wider blogging community, which back in those days was just starting out. The band took a hiatus of about a decade, but came back with a vengeance in 2017, releasing 2 albums in quick succession, ‘Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium In Lo Fi’, and last year’s ‘Left On Tri’, ahead of the upcoming ‘Green and Gold/Drink the Hemlock’. Witthoeft and the band have done some growing up along the way, their music finding an audience with those who feel a familiarity in the band’s sound that they can relate to and connect with (see my comment above). Parker Longbough’s new album is a look from the other side of teen ennui – they’ve moved on. At the same time however they have come to the realisation that “growing up” doesn’t mean you have to conform to a particular way of behaving – parents can stay kids at heart too. Your life and circumstances may change, but you’re still the same person. You can choose to drink the poisoned chalice in front of you, and behave as society demands, or you can ignore it and retain your true identity. Parker Longbough look to have chosen the latter path, and their music is all the better for it.