In 2013, having rebounded from the financial crisis, Jason Buckingham started hearing some rockin’ songs in his head and quickly acted on his compulsion to get back to his long set aside musical dreams. Joining forces with other Bay Area musicians he met at open mics, the multi-talented singer songwriter formed the first lineup of Strange Culprits.
As with many indie bands whose members have demanding day gigs, Jason found that it was hard to keep even a small group together. When his original bass player’s departure set a recording project back, he had the perfect solution. He bought his wife Samantha (Sami) – a multi-instrumentalist (flute, piccolo, saxophone, oboe) with a deep background in ensemble performance – a bass and amp and taught her how to play. By 2018, the refreshed lineup, also featuring veteran drummer Tony Loftin, had begun performing at hotspots all around the San Francisco area and recorded and released their critically acclaimed self-titled full-length debut album.
Gearing up for their full length follow up Second Chances (set for release later in 2020), Strange Culprits is releasing two instantly infectious tracks – “Smiths Creek” and “Namesake” – that reflect the band’s ever evolving but consistent exploration of themes of wistful remembrance, regret, ambivalence and sincere, earnest storytelling. “Smiths Creek” is a soulful, mid-tempo space folk rock gem reflecting on a poignant return to a small Michigan town where Jason created fond memories as a kid visiting his grandparents. It’s a reminder that sometimes you can’t go home again. “Namesake” is a more aggressive rocker which whimsically ponders the fate of loved ones after they pass away: “Did you make it to the other side? And if you didn’t then I don’t want to remember.”
These tracks, which will join re-recordings of songs from the early Strange Culprits EP Self-Contained as the foundation of Second Chances, are the latest tune to embody what Jason calls the “Strange Culprits sound.” It’s a unique vibe, he says, that “comes from being in the midst of this beautiful, crazy thing we call California. It recently occurred to me that we are 100% a California band, with a California sound – even though Sami is the only native Californian. Since the ‘California’ sound covers everything from the Beach Boys and The Byrds to Waylon Jennings, Snoop Dogg, Dead Kennedys, Ariel Pink, Beck and the Australian originated band The Church, we have quite a bit of latitude within the ambit of that ineffable California sound. If you listen to our songs, it will become self-evident that we take full advantage of that latitude.”
With a creative and enigmatic sound the captures the grand texture and timber of the bands “Voice”, a sound that is both reflective and introspective, harmonious and unique. Strange Culprits offers a musical tone that builds to a crescendo of joy and musical bliss.
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