Music We Love: "Friday Mean" by Conor Wallace
Denton musician Conor Wallace has new music coming out, and we have the inside scoop and a tiny preview of what’s in store. His new album Friday Mean might leave you guessing “what does Friday Mean…mean?"
Wallace explains that Friday Mean is a term that describes “the anxiety a person feels on Friday when they have too much to do - a super-privileged, first-world feeling.” It’s a very Denton feeling: that feeling you get when you know there’s somebody you’re not going to get to see, because you can’t choose one thing to do. That social angst-tinged- with-anxiety makes Friday Mean the perfect late-summer listening treat.
The album is rangy and refuses to latch to a single genre, careening instead between lo-fi pop anthems and alt-country songs. There’s even a song that Django Reinhardt would have approved: “Hold Your Baby Tight,” which features jazzy drums and bass beneath a barbershop trio of Wallace self-harmonizing across three separate vocal tracks. Wallace’s sister, Adrien, lends her airy soprano to several numbers, while John Jacob Greenan and Corbin Childs flesh out the sound with various keys (organ, mellotron, and piano) and precise percussion. About one-third of the album features Eleven Hundred Springs’ Burton Lee and his haunting pedal steel. Despite the seemingly disparate elements, Friday Mean is beautifully cohesive; these songs belong together. This is especially impressive considering that most songs were written as performance pieces for Spiderweb Salon, the arts collective Wallace co-founded with Denton creative powerhouse Courtney Marie. Conor says he didn’t know the songs would someday comprise an album.
“They were still there.” Friday Mean’s thematic content is about as slippery as its sound. Although Wallace says a few of the tracks are breakup songs, the album can’t be pinned to one feeling or message. This is partially due to Wallace’s inventive and cryptic lyrical sensibility. Parsing his songs often requires an ear for puns, as in the psychedelic lullaby “Taste of Cinnamon”: “Criss-cross my teas, yours black, mine lemon zest / Star-dot your eyes, you sleep like gravestone RIPs.” “Sad Tattoos” deals largely in literary references, while “Bite It Off” recasts a real-world altercation as a battle between a friend and an animated corpse. But this is what makes Wallace’s writing so effective—just as a song seems ready to drift into the ether, he reins it in with something clear and concise. “Asshole,” a danceable tune about roommate living gone awry, asks simply, “Who’s the asshole in your house?” while “Future Grow” is a sincere lamentation on a breakup: “Possible to live with the death of your first hope / Impossible to know when you will get more.” These are songs that manage to be universal in their empathy while remaining completely unique in their execution.
When asked what he is most excited about, Wallace is quick to point out the album artwork by Denton artist Cameron Cox. “The songs and the art are coming from a very similar place; I’m really excited about that. The juxtaposition of what she does…I think in a perfect world, the look of that album cover is what the album could have been.”
In a perfect world, you won’t have a case of Friday Mean - you’ll be going to its release show. Head to Dan’s Silverleaf on Sunday, August 7 at 5:00 pm to snag your copy.