Caleb Nichols
Ramon

 

DATA


Label
Kill Rock Stars
Format
CD/LP/Digital
Release Date
June 24, 2022
Territory
Europe

TRACKLISTING


1. Listen to the Beatles
2. Dog Days
3. Run Rabbit Run
4. Ramon
5. She’s The Beard
6. Captain Custard
7. Jerome
8. Mustard’s Blues
9. I Can’t Tell You
10. From A Hole in the Road
11. (I Fell In Love On) Christmas Day

ABOUT THE RELEASE


It turns out that a childhood Beatles fascination grows well next to the sounds of the golden state, weaving vivid guitar into operatic commentary veiled in a true coastal California partly-cloudy forecast. Is it smog or an apparition of Paul McCartney in drag, floating slowly into frame from the ether? For Nichols, probably both. From their mobile Book Bike project, “a literary bee, bumbling around [their] rather hetero hometown of San Luis Obispo, pollinating different places with small bits of queer poetry,” to their earlier work in music with Soft People, Nichols’ projects aim to establish an alternative connection to an overwhelmingly normative world. In spaces that have been written by and for straight people, they digest their personal experiences alongside relatable complexities of being and make them something representational, celebratory, aching, and accessible.

Throughout their many projects, Nichols’ carves out a specific artistic identity. Their PhD in queer ecopoetics takes a serious look at how their life and that of those around them are affected and constructed by desire. In their newest album, “Ramon,” Nichols queers a canonical musical figure, using theatrical lyrics to paint vignettes of white rabbit adventures and very real social pressures within a DIY ethos. They measure it all through sometimes punchy-bright, sometimes pensive-plucky instrumentation. A self described “rock opera” in true DIY spirit: made by and for the people it stands to represent.

Each track is a three to four minute romp inside a specific emotion, playing out theatrical puzzle pieces that build on each others’ sounds. From “She’s The Beard,” a good old fashioned chaotic stomper in which lovers Ramon and Jerome first set eyes on one another, to the title track “Ramon,” a finger-plucked “I don’t want you but I don’t want anyone else to have you either” heart wrencher, Nichols’ builds a cohesive collection of ups and downs. There’s so much to be said about the perfectly fuzzed strings and how they fit seamlessly into powerfully catchy lyrics, versatile and relevant percussion, etc. There’s also so much to say about how fun it is to just listen to it happen.

Their work touches on sounds that might feel homey to those of us who have been listening to the likes of Kill Rock Stars’ Elliott Smith, bounces distinctly off of the 1960’s technicolor daisy of the British Invasion and matures into Nichols’ specific artistry. Whether it’s advocating for LGBTQ+ youths experiencing homelessness (who are, for the record, significantly more likely to be houseless than their straight counterparts), or winding together a romance that avoids the saccharine at all costs, Nichols’ is an artist (read: poet) making intricate, cathartic work for the people who need it.