Listen to the new Strand of Oaks anthem, “Radio Kids”

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Strand of Oaks | photo courtesy of the artist
Strand of Oaks | photo by Maclay Heriot | courtesy of the artist

Tim Showalter, the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of Strand Of Oaks, was three albums deep into his career when he released his breakthrough, 2014’s HEAL. It changed the Philadelphia musician’s life, led him to months on the road, playing in front of increasingly larger crowds than ever before. An ensuing series of very personal life experiences took emotional toll on Showalter’s being.

Hard Love, the forthcoming Strand of Oaks record, recounts his decadent tour experiences, his struggling marriage, and the near-death of his younger brother. Out on February 17th on Dead Oceans, Hard Love is a big rock record from the go. Musically, Showalter was inspired by Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane’s Addiction during the writing and making of the record. On it, he balances the dark and difficult emotional forces at work in his life, and his search for the perfect expression of them in song. “For me,” says Showalter, “there are always two forces at work: the side that’s constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that’s naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It’s about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated.”

Showalter once told me that as he’s gotten older, he’s had to reconcile his youthful, wilder, rock and roll partying ways with his maturity into adulthood. It’s a common struggle that many of us go through, an experience shared, like bonding over a song you would hear when listening to the radio. That’s the story behind “Radio Kids,” a song from Hard Love about finding your favorite song on the radio, and by extension finding solace and emotional strength.

“Radio was my freedom as a kid,” Showalter told me via e-mail. “No internet, no scene, no way to find music except radio. It was an escape and a joyous one at that. But the idea of radio is also a metaphor for where we stand today. Isolated, alone, with just a cold screen staring back.

“I’m just old enough to live before all this took over and I never once asked for it,” he continues. “I don’t want everything all at once. It’s addictive at first but it just leaves you empty. I miss true innocent discovery and connection.”

On the anthemic “Radio Kids,” Showalter sings the opening line “Remember how it felt to listen,” and he immediately draws you back to a time when that one song you heard on the radio was your life. Just like that favorite song you’ve held onto for so many years, evoking memories of the past, “Radio Kids” is the kind of song you want to listen to over and over.

“I want to get it back, I want to get it back,” Showalter howls, losing himself to the glory days of youthfulness that we need to hold onto as we slip into adulthood. And as you reach for the volume to turn it up, he sings “at least I had that song on the radio.”

Hard Love is out February 17th on Dead Oceans records; preorder the album here, and see Strand of Oaks’ tour dates — which includes a March 10 stop at Union Transfer — below.

12/01 – Arden, DE @ The Gild Hall
12/02-04 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
12/11 – Brussels, BE @ AB-Huis 23
02/25 – Berlin, DE @ Privat Club
02/26 – Utrecht, NL @ Ekko
02/27 – Brussels, BE @ AB-Box
02/28 – London, UK @ Oslo
03/01 – Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
03/02 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell
03/03 – Brighton, UK @ Patterns
03/04 – Oostende, BE @ De Zwerver
03/05 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
03/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
03/12 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
03/14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
03/15 – Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt
03/16 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
03/17 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
03/18 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
03/19 – Milwaukee, WI @ Colectivo Coffee
03/20 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
03/23 – Spokane, WA @ The Bartlett
03/24 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
03/25 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s
03/27 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
03/28 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Jones
03/30 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
03/31 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
04/01 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf
04/03 – Dallas, TX @ Three Links
04/04 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Indoor
04/05 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
04/07 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
04/08 – Tallahassee, FL @ Word of South Festival
04/09 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
04/10 – Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall

Strand of Oaks' Hard Love | courtesy of the artist
Strand of Oaks’ Hard Love | courtesy of the artist

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