Ten years is an eternity in rock ‘n’ roll, where waiting too long to release new product can lose a band its audience. But in the case of Erie Choir, which has just released its first LP in a decade, the struggles and life changes that occurred between releases have informed Old Rigs, the proudly unprolific band’s long-awaited second album.
Starting out as a less frenetic alternative to Eric Roehrig’s main band, Sorry About Dresden, Erie Choir issued Slighter Awake in 2006 but didn’t record together again until 2010. Old Rigs, released via PotLuck, collects these long-gestating songs.
The sound is a bit more visceral than the crisp indie pop of its predecessor. “Bicentennial Quarters,” the ramshackle, slyly tuneful opener, sets the record’s bright but bitter tone as Roehrig sings with scorn to someone, himself perhaps, who yearned to perform on big stages but never made good on those dreams: “Thought you might be a star,” he sings, “not the assistant supervisor which you are,” a line that has a cutting sting to it. “The Era of Good Feelings (Is Over)” also references a bygone American moment, with a Faces-like swagger abetted by brass accents and a wonderfully stabbing guitar solo. The rousing, gang-vocaled closer, “Haunted,” is also hard to resist.
Along with satisfying rockers are gentler tracks like the dreamy folk-pop of “Echoes” and “Saw Your Face,” which rides a country feel with peals of steel and hazy harmonies suggesting the melancholy and yearning of the open road. Some of the deeper emotions that inspired the music are reflected in the songs from the record’s latter half, which reference songs of significance for Roehrig. We can catch a glimpse of what Shakira’s “Ready for the Good Times” meant to him in the air of hopeful desperation imbued in his song of the same title.