Daniel Romano’s Pandemic Year (A music mix, sorta)

June 18, 2022 at 9:50 am (cool band alert, Music Mixes, rock and roll, Uncategorized)

In the first week of March of 2020 like lots of us, the oncoming pandemic got the better of Daniel Romano and his band The Outfit. The group’s seemingly endless tour was on the east coast of the US when I’m assuming a combination of Covid-cancelled gigs and worries over getting back across the border into their native Canada had them pull up stakes and head back home to Welland, Ontario.

During a mandatory self-quarantine on return, Romano — who apparently needs to be making music the way sharks need to swim — plotted out what an extended time being unable to play live shows might mean for him. And I guess he decided to return to some album demos he’d come up with over previous years. (Note, not song demos — full albums he’d written out and maybe recorded quick demos for.)

And so by mid-March, Visions Of The Higher Dream, an album credited to Romano solo — with some assistance from friends — landed. As the pandemic wore on through the year, from March through November Romano released an absurd 10 albums (I think that’s the number we’ve all settled on now for that). Those include three records with (or as) the Outfit. (Of which, it should be said, is about the tightest, sharpest rock and roll band on the planet right now, and if you get a chance to see them on their current endless tour you should. Thank me later.)

He also put out a couple of collaborations: a 22-minute prog rock song with Danny Carey of Tool, and a sort of post-hardcore power-pop ep called Super Pollen. Interspersed through all of that were four records — all solo, with Romano playing most of the instruments in his home studio — that seem sort of thematically linked to one another. In addition to Vision Of The Higher Dream, there’s Dandelion, White Flag, and in March of 2021, Kissing The Foe. That’s four solo albums in about a calendar year.

And when I first realized how many of these solo records Romano dropped in a year, without having sat to listen to them I figured “Oh, he just put out his demos.” Which…no. Imagine my surprise when these turned out to be fully-realized, fully-arranged tracks, none of which sound incomplete. Quite the opposite, in fact; these are songs that sound complete and lush and meticulously crafted.

But what links them together in my mind at least is the kind of music on them. Those four records seem to be tapping into this circa 1970-1973 era of Neil Young, early McCartney solo, Danny Kirwan era Fleetwood Mac and absolutely Badfinger. With horns. And string sections.

And for whatever reason, only a small number of the records released by Romano and the Outfit and other friends during this absurdly productive lockdown period are available through your traditional streamers. And NONE of these four thematically linked solo albums are. They’re only available from You’ve Changed Records (the label that Romano and Constantines singer/guitarist Steven Lambke founded) on Bandcamp. And the next time we get to a Bandcamp Friday you should definitely grab as many Daniel Romano albums as you can from them: https://danielromano.bandcamp.com/music

In the meantime, it was feeling to me like in these four solo albums I’d discovered some sort of hidden goldmine. I don’t think these records are meant to be secret. I don’t think they’re meant to be tough to track down. But damn. It feels like a whole lot of folks that listen to the a lot of the same music I listen to should be listening to these albums. On repeat. Constantly.

So I created a 1-hour sampler platter from those records. 16 tracks. It honestly feels like you could make three similar playlists from just these albums and they’d all be good, because as individual albums they’re all so great. And if you expand things to include The Outfit records, and other stuff Romano and the band recorded together you could put together more than a half-dozen playlists of similar quality music without having to try too hard.

And so without further ado, here’s my little Daniel Romano One Year solo playlist/mix. As I do with these things, it’s one extended MP3, with the sound volume normalized, tracks in a specific running order, and everything crossfaded with purpose to make for a fire-and-forget 57 minutes covering 16 songs. Since (I’m hoping) you’re going to hear songs here and immediately need to know what they’re called, here’s the track list:

  1. “Where May I Take My Rest”
  2. “I Cannot Be More Lonely”
  3. “maybe today will be curious”
  4. “if you don’t or if you do”
  5. “I’m Only Love”
  6. “Singers In Season”
  7. “Into A Rainbow”
  8. “Mysterious Storm”
  9. “Don’t Turn Around Janet”
  10. “Appaipoure”
  11. “Nobody Sees A Lowered Face”
  12. “New Milk”
  13. “Blue Heron”
  14. “Walking Around Holding Hands”
  15. “Hot Change”
  16. “Lilac About Thy Crown”

Click this to stream/download/listen:
Daniel Romano’s Solo Pandemic Year

(Recommended very strongly for aficionados of circa-1971 post Beatle solo work by Sir Paul and George Harrison, as well as fans of Neil Young of that era, Ian Matthews, Danny Kirwan, Badfinger, The Rolling Stones, Flying Burrito Brothers, etc.)

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