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50 Songs 50 States
Netherfriends (digital album)

50 Songs 50 States was a year long project where Netherfriends A.K.A. Shawn Rosenblatt wrote and recorded a song and performed a show in every state in the USA from April 2010-April 2011. Rosenblatt gave himself one year to write and record a song and perform a show in each state. The complete list of songs is now ready for release (on July 4th of course...). Well, it's a massive and highly ambitious piece of work. Sufjan Stevens had an even bigger project running some years ago - a scheme with 'Fifty States, Fifty Albums' with a theme throughout as well, but, as we know, this plan came to an end after two albums only; Michigan and Illinois (one might include his symphony to The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway - the BQE of NYC, NY as a third), and later Stevens claimed: "I have no qualms about admitting it was a promotional gimmick". (The Guardian, 2009). Well, Rosenblatt has completed his work, and it's a work grandeur for sure. coverpic

When visiting Netherfriends' home site you can click and check out each song. Most pages/windows include a video for each song as well, plus short stories from the touring - a diary, sort of. In addition Netherfriends recommend a list of bands from the state they've visited. For this review I'll go through the "album" in ten's, starting with Wilbur, Alabama; Austin, Texas; Frankfort, Kentucky; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona (feat. Rich Jones); Nampa, Idaho; Baltimore, Maryland; Missoula, Montana; Hattiesburg, Missouri; Portland, Oregon.

Netherfriends' Bandcamp site states: "...[Shawn Rosenblatt] is always on tour and releases music like it's the end of the world. When he performs live he uses 2 loop pedals and various instruments. He tries his best to dance like James Brown." A statement, or a line of goals from Rosenblatt goes: "Quit your job. Give up your lease. Drive your car around the country for one year. Write and a record a song in every state. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Go to the desert. Go somewhere. Go skateboarding. Go bowling. Get your van stolen. Get your laptop stolen. Run out of gas. Get into fights. Question your reason for living. Question your art. Explore. Discover. Love cities. Hate cities. Drink beer. Drink energy drinks. Drink sweet tea. Grow a beard. Sleep on a couch. Sleep in a parachute tent. Sleep on the floor. Sleep in a warehouse. Sleep in a van. Explain your project to the cops when you get pulled over. Play to an empty room. Play to a packed house. Play a BBQ in Oakland. Play a gallery in Seattle. Get addicted to coffee. Play a haunted venue in Vermont. Play a museum in Cape Cod. See Mt. Rushmore. See the Northern Lights. See the Golden Gate Bridge. Learn what Hawaii smells like. Learn that there is a town called Nampa in Idaho and play a show there. Learn the prices of produce in every state. Draw a self-portrait. Keep calm. Get angry. Make regrets. Don't miss the cat; miss the girl. Record in a van at an abandoned gas station in Alabama. Record in a sun room. Record in a hotel bathroom. Do it. Do it better. Write about it all. Share it with the world."

The music of Netherfriends is sort of wide screened and multi-flavoured. They sound free, without borders or fences. Not all of the 10 first songs are of the most tickling kind. Yet, they hold a certain quality and defiantly quite some strength and attitude. "Frankfort, KY" is without doubt my favourite track, being a brilliant song. Catchy and proud. Whether if its a good postcard from Frankfort, KY, I'm not he right person to say. "Los Angeles, CA" is a tranquil song, which is probably quite a fitting souvenir from The Golden State. "Phoenix, AZ" features a guest appearance by hip-hopper Rich Jones, and differs some from the other tracks. "Austin, TX" is a gentle breeze from the Lone Star State. Possible a balanced opposition to tough Texans and arid and humid climate. "Missoula, MT" sounds like a 60s pop song (with a tint of The Magnetic Fields), and is one the more appealing and immediate ones. "Hattiesburg, MS" is another fine track, and along with "Missoula, MT" it's one of the shortest songs presented (clocking in at less than 2 minutes). "Portland, OR" closes the first ten tracks, and it's another lazy and swaying song, slightly Eels-like. To sum up the first round: "Frankfort, KY" is the winner, the indisputable stand-out track, harvested from the blue grass (not the music genre) from Kentucky. It's followed by "Missoula, MT", "Los Angeles, CA", and the slightly Sufjanish "Hattiesburg, MS".

50 Songs 50 States is said to be the first album to ever be released on an interactive map. Go explore that map.

Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Netherfriends article/review: 50 Songs 50 States.

© 2013 Luna Kafé