There’s that moment in time after a relationship ends. No, not the immediate numbness afterwards. It’s the one where you’re thinking it’s about time to move on, but you know you’re not there yet. Izaak Opatz has created the perfect soundtrack for that most trying time on Mariachi Static. Opatz, the former frontman of The Best Westerns, is in good company on the album with producer Malachi Delorenzo, who also plays drums for Langhorne Slim. Like Slim, Opatz brings a power pop sensibility to his Americana, putting whimsical touches to songs that are deadly serious.
The pair met when Opatz left Montano for Los Angeles to work with Jonny Fritz on his leatherworking project Dad Country Leather. (On “Not Yet,” Opatz proudly crows that he doesn’t have “a job in front of a computer screen” — it looks like he got exactly what he wanted.) When they began recording the songs (each instrument was played by the two of them), Opatz knew he had hit on something magic. “I got one of those perma-grins I hadn’t felt while playing music for a while.”
That energy is obvious from the jump. On “Got To Me Since,” Opatz yearns for a time when new love felt hopeful and exciting. However, the song has a playfulness that makes this emotion seem fleeting. Opatz knows he needs to get over himself, but at least he’ll get a solid tune out of it first. That’s the driving ethos behind the Montana-bred singer-songwriter’s music: the writing is deadly serious, but life isn’t. Like Fritz, who’s known for his oddball sense of humor, Opatz enjoys eliciting chuckles as much as he does tears.
Opatz’s outsider perspective on the world is hard-earned: growing up on the outskirts of Glacier National Park and spending summers on the trail crew seems to have created a sense of self-awareness. “Arm’s Length Away” is a bittersweet ode to enjoying life without modern conveniences. “Not Yet” is a sardonic piece of advice for young people. Opatz may be questioning that wisdom — once you hit thirties, he observes, that advice runs out. However, I think it’s a pretty good guide to solid living no matter how old you are.
Mariachi Static shows that Opatz is a consummate storyteller. He can truly control the emotional arc of a song. By the time you’ve reached the end of this album, you’ll have felt more than a few pangs of sympathy, but you’ll also have laughed your way through some of those cringe-worthy memories.
Opatz just signed to Mama Bird Recording Co (Haley Heynderickx, Courtney Marie Andrews), who are re-issuing the album along with a few bonus cuts. Mariachi Static is out on July 27. You can purchase it via Bandcamp.
‘Mariachi Static’ Track Listing:
1. “Got To Me Since”
2. “Everything (But One Thing)”
3. “Arm’s Length Away”
5. “Not Yet”
6. “Say What You Want”
7. “Limited Liability”
8.”One Way Or Another”
9. “Pilot Light”
10. “Read Between Your Lines”
“Bathing in the Ganges”
“Duck Lake Road”