On the brink of releasing their second album, The High Plains Drifters continue to defy expectations. Yes, their name begs a conjuring of tumbleweed and campfires, but the plains they traverse are musical. Their drifting is expressed in music that has repeatedly been called “genre-bending”. The make-up of this seasoned band obliges such a range. The roots of frontman Larry Studnicky found fertile soil when, in his last two years of college, Elvis Costello released “My Aim Is True” and then the Rolling Stones released “Some Girls”.
Since then, he has honed a unique storytelling style, voiced with influences ranging from the Punk and New Wave movements to an amalgam of icons like The Travelling Wilburys. Behind him, producer Greg Cohen, guitarist John Macom, keyboardist Charles Czarnecki, guitarist Mike DoCampo, drummer Kyle Cassel, and bassist Dave Richards stand ready to infuse Studnicky’s lovelorn tales with electro-pop synths, bossa-nova vibes, and more. Let go of anything you thought they might be, and allow yourself to drift on a more elevated plane of musicality.
The group’s latest single, “The One the Got Away,” will not get away from your eardrums anytime soon. Roaring out the longing lyrics, Studnicky tees up a simple situation loaded with emotion: a love losing itself to time. Somehow the band takes their frontman’s genuine despair and stretches it like a rubber band over driving rhythmic riffs, through shocks of zipping synths, and ties it off around a classic house kick-pah beat. The sum effect teleports us to the no-man’s-land-no-more between Daft Punk and Nick Cave, where HPD is throwing a Tron-inspired Burning Man festival… ya dig? Listen to it, and see for yourself.
In case you missed it, the official music video for “The One that Got Away” (directed by Lars Skaland) featured a relatively wholesome jaunt through Trondheim, Norway with captivating girl-next-door Julie Louise Bjelke. The lyric video, however, holds memories of a different “one that got away,” starring Marit Holan Brattås.
In this erotic dreamscape, the group evokes pure nocturnal lust. Amidst manikin legs and sensuous paintings, a luscious fantasy woman teases and turns over what’s probably your childhood bunk bed. Neons from the red-light district flash before your eyes, and you’re tossed into a dizzying cityscape where you last parted paths with this impossible beauty. Viewers might miss the lyrics amidst the funky, gotta-dance tune and the enthralling visuals. But, hey, if you’re enjoying yourself, HPD’s feeling pretty alright with that.