Vault Volume 1, Red Vinyl
Salvaged from the hard drive of a dying laptop, the tracks that make up STRFKR’s Vault series are completely unreleased material never before shared outside of the band. Ranging from fragmental 30 second sketches to more fleshed out full song demos, this material goes as far back as 2007, chronicling the band’s evolution with ideas that would eventually go on to form their earliest material, get scrapped or mutate into something else, right up to their most recent full-length, Being No One, Going Nowhere.
Over the course of almost two hours, the collection runs the spectrum from ridiculous to sublime. All written and recorded by STRFKR’s primary songwriter Josh Hodges (with occasional lyrical help from Radiation City’s Randy Bemrose), the mood of any given song tracks what was happening in that particular phase of his life. You can hear the songs being informed by what was unfolding in the moment, in both emotional and physical environments.
There’s the goofy fun of aimless afternoons spent jamming. There’s the excitement of discovering a new instrument, particularly when parents of one of Hodges’ friends invited him to stay at their house for a while and record with their Steinway grand piano. There’s also a valley where you can hear someone pulling themselves out of a depression, with songs from a darker time period taking on more a sense of struggling than sadness. Every major disappointment, wasted night at a low paying job or lost opportunity seems to be pushed back against with an achingly beautiful new song idea, created when Josh was crashing with supportive friends or sleeping on his dad’s couch.
So why is this a STRFKR record? These demos, however unfinished or rough around the edges, are the raw materials of the band’s process. Never intended for an audience, the Vault series is unguarded, unrestrained and deeply personal, a beautifully unpolished view of what inspiration looks like from inside someone else’s head.