On the 20th Anniversary of This Is The New America

On the 20th Anniversary of This Is The New America

The first thing that comes to mind when listening to this gem is the timelessness of it all. Not only does it hold up after twenty years, but one never has a thought of when it may have been constructed. Perhaps this is because of the lack of electronic instrumentation, stylistic trends of 1997, computers, or perhaps it is because this is simply an album not attempting to accomplish anything beyond living within what it is and was meant to be. That exact answer will probably always be only known to Rich and Ty, the Kings of Leisure.

While it would be quite easy to write this off as some form of folk music, I would argue that, while it may have roots in Americana, it is very much its own voice. Then I would call you an idiot in my head and not want to speak to you any longer. This is the secret world of two best friends opening up their clubhouse, allowing you to peek inside. You won’t understand all the inside jokes, but you’ll feel the open-hearted sincerity like a warm hug. They gladly wave their freak-flag, which in today’s world means so much (because when people say they’re ‘being a freak’ now they really are just posturing, and these guys are just being their own weird selves). And it’s refreshing to hear Rich belting out real, heartfelt emotions (another thing that’s rare nowadays).

But don’t get too comfortable because hippies they are not, as noted in my favorite cut Vota Asi when Rich sings:
Well I’m a peace lovin’ man
but you made the wrong woman cry...

so you think you can just
walk in walk out
snakes in the house
snakes in the grass
and you thought I was joking
when I said I’d kick your ass

you’re a bad motherfucker
but you’re a long long way from home...
The album has its light-hearted moments as well. On Talkin’ ‘bout Oysters, we get to drink cocoa and eat rice and wax world domination with some weirdos in a shotgun shack. But don’t bring milk. Later, in Oceans they take us on a bizarre mental journey that makes one feel at times how one does when the current slams a body into the ocean floor, leaving one confused and lost. This leads back to the heartfelt I’m Coming Home, which leaves a feeling of anticipation and the type of repose one has been traveling all week to attain.

I like to differentiate albums by whether or not they take you on a journey or are simply a pile of songs; this is absolutely the former. From the beginning of Across the Bow to the end of Insult-To-Injury this album takes you for a fun ride through the Kingdom of Leisure. It has aged perfectly, and the world needs this feeling now even more than it did when it was released. 

Evan Enge, 2017