Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bootstraps Steps Out A Self-Titled LP

After Jordan Beckett formed Bootstraps in Los Angeles with Nathan Warkentin and David Quon, the trio took to making an unorthodox introduction. Rather than playing exclusively in bars and small clubs, they started producing songs that were featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, and the CW.

The soundtrack exposure eventually paid off with a re-introduction to actor-writer-director Sam Jaeger (and college friend), who asked them to write a few songs for the film Take Me Home. They obliged, spending several days in the studio and tracking songs the old-fashioned way — recording them live while the picture played.

As impossible as it sounds, this old school tracking method worked with the help of Richard Dodd (Kings of Leon, The Raconteurs) and Skip Saylor. And one of the many awards the independent film went on to receive was the Naxos Award for Best Film Music at the Nashville Film Festival Awards.

Bolstered by this early success, Bootstraps stepped back inside the studio to produce their own debut alum, which was released by indie artist supporter Redeye distribution. Ever since, the band has received ample attention and accolades, leaving some to wonder if the story matched the hype.

Bootstraps puts out a self-titled album that ends speculation. 

For those who already know Bootstraps, the self-titled album is a re-release of their debut in 2012. But what some fans might not know is that the music has been remixed and remastered, making the re-release a better reflection of where the band is headed.

Some tracks, particularly those showcased on shows like Private Practice, Betrayal, and Parenthood, suddenly feel even more cohesive. The album, from start to finish, is reminiscent of those rare releases  that can be slipped into a car stereo and left alone for awhile. It makes sense. Beckett wanted to make a road trip record from the start.

Most of the album rolls along with folk, rock, and country influences. It opens with Road Noise, an atmospheric, cymbal crashing arrangement that can easily be accompanied by coastal highways. And this in turn gives way to Sleeping Giant, which is a reminiscing and reflective song that showcases some of the soaring harmonies that have become a Beckett trademark.

Both tracks lay significant groundwork for one of the band's best known songs, Oh CA (one of six from the film), which draws a parallel between landscapes and relationships. The song has a majestic quality to it, despite a hint of desperation in the lyrics. While there are better songs on the alum, it's impossible to deny their talent.

Other standouts include the sentimental Nothing On You, the haunting confessional of Haywire, and the honesty of Wild Moan. Expect others to cite FortyFive among the top tracks on this album, mostly for its harmony.

Despite the number of times that it has been covered, the remastered version on the re-release seems to create too much distance between Beckett and the listener during the verse. He makes up for it in the chorus, but it's clear a little less polish and studio effect might have been appreciated here.

If you are looking for a seventh track, Guiltfree is more accessible in how it is mixed. Conversely, a few lines fall short of the introspective qualities of other songs on the self-titled album. Then again, that's not to say the album doesn't work as a singular body of a road trip escapism.

The self-titled album by Bootstraps, if anything, will feel like a soundtrack for their lives, especially those moments when it is time to move on no matter what is left behind. Beckett makes it easy enough. As a songwriter, he seems to have a natural gift for writing about specific moments but then obscuring them enough to let anyone fill in their own details.

Bootstraps' Self-Titled Album Travels 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Although the self-titled album is a remastered re-release, most tracks were improved in the process making the revisit worthwhile. Supporting the album also increases the potential to get the band back in the studio to produce some new material — maybe something that moves them beyond California.

You can find  Bootstraps' self-titled album on iTunes. You can also find Bootstraps by Bootstraps on Amazon. The movie Take Me Home, which includes six of the ten album tracks, is also sold there. Follow the band's updates on Facebook.
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