In the era of the phonograph, when sound quality was essentially nonexistent, whatever got cut to the cylinder is whatever crackled out. Nowadays, there’s a huge divide in listener tastes when it comes to fidelity. On one side of the spectrum you’ve got audiophiles who demand nothing less than ultra-refined digital masters that make it sound like you just had an ear cleaning; on the other, there are the lo-fi aficionados who prefer a muddier analog sound over a pristine mix. And of course, there are folks smack dab in between who relish in a midway fidelity – which we’ll call mid-fi.
That’s not to say mid-fi is mediocre…far from it. It takes a certain sensibility to narrow down centrist sounds that please without being too pockmarked nor pristine, a talent imbued in Albuquerque duo Olivia Nowadays. The genre-defying pair’s first eccentric collection How to Be Okay With the Everyday dropped right before COVID, and since then, these self-proclaimed “basement boys” have only gotten bigger and bolder. This Friday they unfurl their sophomore full-length The Sky Doesn’t End At The Top Of The Page, featuring nearly a dozen new tunes that scratch that itch of oddball auditory stimulation with fascinating field recordings, admirable amounts of experimentation, and overall just awe-inspiring ambience.
We’ve already received five of the eleven puzzle pieces, and this morning, Olivia Nowadays helped us visualize the fuller picture with an album closer actually inspired by a move to Austin, “Damn This Is Real Bad”. But don’t take the title at face value. This sans-lyric transportive wonder starts off simply enough with unhurried synth arpeggios, resolves tranquilly with horizon-cresting orchestral plucks, and swells smack dab in the middle with lush vocal harmonies and pulsing percussion. Not much left to say other than, “Damn. This is real good.”