“I dreamed last night of a beautiful bar last night / and walkable neighborhoods”. Formed during the Obama years Cincinnati, that line by the Chicago-landed indie rock band Upstairs absolutely crushes me. Perhaps it’s the longing for the simple pleasures that we take for granted now. Like walking a few blocks in either direction to find a bar where at least somebody knows your name, to contemplating the incredibly heavy political levers thrown in the dark to make you feel like all of this was meant for you, it’s so sweet and fraught, that’s its difficult to know what to do except offer it as some kind of vapor trail hallucinogen. That life was once like this. The context that this line is delivered in, from the opening cut of Upstairs album I Could Die Whenever shares space with gorgeous violin, dynamic and understated melodicism of 80’s college rock and the too-clever for their own good acerbic wit of The Dismemberment Plan while still managing to name-drop Springsteen, SZA and round third into a massive, it’s-all-falling-down-around me chorus with shouting, horns and more shouting. Equal parts The National and Rainer Maria. Beautiful work. 

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