by Mely Duong
Oldermost, a band that’s been around since 2010, has been infusing the Philly music scene with a new association for the Wild West lexicon. Instead of the term being a ghost town descriptor, fans are left with a high energy rock and roll sound focusing on piano chamber pop vibe and lineups. However, this wasn’t always the case. Coming with the territory of lineup changes over the years, the band has dabbled in different sounds such as indie pop, improvisational, and more of a raw feral sound.
Although their sound has been inconsistent, this has proven to be a strength for the band, as their sound is quite adaptable and malleable to their diverse players: Bradford Bucknum (manager, chief lyricist and songwriter, frontman), Stephen Robbins (drummer and producer), Mike Sobel (lead guitarist and lap steelist), and Dan Wolgemuth (bass guitarist and website manager). Furthermore, it gives fans a component of the unexpected, never knowing what else the band might produce or the direction they will go. That being said, Oldermost is influenced by ’60s and ’70s songwriters.
“We love classic songwriting, and although we have an affinity for familiar popular some construction, we lean towards bands that have chosen to do something interesting with song experimentation and arrangements that create some semblance of narrative drama,” states Bucknum.
This type of narrative can be seen in their last EP It’s Didficult to Know Anything At All, wherein they introduced concepts of uncertainty in life and this meaningless tension we all face in the form of unknowing. Bucknum goes on to say, “Our lyrics blend the quotidian with an almost mystical approach to meaning and the loss of meaning in contemporary life. Music is a great way to [confront meaninglessness]. You listen to songs over and over again, and they make a place in your life and you return to them again and again creating a rich site for meditation.”
This is the enthralling atmosphere and stage that Oldermost sets for the audience, a continual ponderance and reflection on meaninglessness. They continue to explore this existentialist theme in their two new singles, “Honey with Tea” (collaborating with Rosali) and “Finally Unsure.” Fans will hear a greater depth of sonic complexity in these two songs claims Oldermost. This complexity originates from their improved decision making process on arrangements and fine tuned intuition on when less is more. Robbins has contributed to an improvement in tracking and Jeff Ziegler added his own touch in mixing the singles.
Despite having such an intensive and compelling narrative for their song lyrics, Oldermost always writes the melody first. At rehearsal, the melody in its nascent stage is modified, revised and built upon with the addition of lyrics. This process of songwriting and recording is rather meticulous and can take up to a year or two. It is a continuous process of deliberate and critical revision. Although they have such strengths in their concrete writing and revision process and communication, one of the challenges they face is how to continue to make inspired music despite low energy levels at the end of the day. Music is not the sole focus for Oldermost band members, but they are truly passionate about making music.
“It is a privilege to make beautiful things with beautiful people…if you don’t love the process, you will never love the rewards,” Bucknum says.
Oldermost would like to extend thanks to Johnny Brenda’s for their support and for making the Philadelphia music scene a home to a lot of local bands out there. The band members would also like to say thank you to their fans. They are completely humbled when someone gives them their valuable time of day to listen to their hard work. Catch up with Oldermost at Johnny Brenda’s on August 27th.