MARK TWAIN once said, it is noted, about Cincy, The Queen City, out there in Ohio: “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati; because it’s always twenty years behind the times.” C’mon now Mark: great writer you may have been, but is that entirely fair?
Well, it’s had it’s share of late-stage capitalist problems, it has to be said; it’s been noted as a “Midwestern Rust Belt straddling the Mason-Dixon line.” It has, notably, the highest per-capita number of Fortune 500 Companies in the United States; yet alongside that, one of the highest poverty indexes. It’s a city that, as a Cincinattian, you maybe love to hate; hate to love; aww shucks, maybe love really, deep down, if only it could get its act together.
Eric Dietrich, the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who fronts Sorry Eric, the post-punk guitar band who are dropping their new album, It’s Okay, with the city’s excellent and eclectic Whited Sepulchre label this Friday, has one of those kind of vexatious interrelationships goin’ on with the city – as he details on the lead track of the album, “Cincinnati”.
“Cincinnatti – you’re so good to me /Except when you’re not! / You seem drunk to me, because you are … get away from me, and out of my yard! / And away from my car,” he declaims with raw feeling over a sweetly fuzzed-up guitar melody.
But forget Ohio just a moment, at least in the musical sense: because actually, when it comes to Sorry Eric, you should be looking several thousand clicks either south west or south east, depending on your preferred direction of travel. It’s best to view Sorry Eric through a more Antipodean lens. If you were a fan of the great NZ label Flying Nun, you’re gonna hear a lot of those great acts they curated: Bailter Space; The Verlaines; Straitjacket Fits; The Bats, whose Robert Scott contributed the painting that adorns the cover of It’s Okay.
I mean, you can really hear that, I think, in the ragged distorted pop brilliance of “Karaoke”: those bass chords (have you even heard a bass chord since Pale Saints’ demise?), the slow simmer, the brilliant lo-fi melody singing through a blizzard of distortion. Yum.
Elsewhere on the album you’ll be able to hear Eric externalise internal struggles on declamatory, spoken-word numbers such as “Earthly Insults” and “Bicycle Experiments” – in which existential questions are tackled following funerals or during bike rides.
Referring back to Mark Twain, Whited Sepulchre say of It’s Okay: “Released among a pandemic, perhaps, there’s no better place to contemplate end times than Cincinnati.”
See? Maybe it is the place to be.
Sorry Eric’s It’s Okay will be released by Whited Sepulchre Records this Friday, October 9th, on digital and in a strictly limited vinyl run. Place your order here.