already dead tapes & records


About a Million/Jeremy Ruggles


August 1, 2018

Artist Location:
Honeybrook, PA / Kalamazoo, MI

“A split album between two of Already Dead’s most consistent songwriters makes a lot of sense. About a Million and Jeremy Ruggles are stylistically complimentary but provide a diverse take on the more ambitious side of folk and pop. The contiguous recordings feel like two people having a nice conversation over a drink and a banjo. Both sides are personal and sincere; they really get along.

Anthony Leitch (About a Million) kicks off his side with an uptempo instant toe-tapper. The classic intimacy of About a Million’s records shines through on this track and throughout side A. “The Name” and “Money” are the kinds of slower, quieter tunes one would find on an early Ben Gibbard recording or a Duster track. The electric piano is the only accompaniment on “Tryna Find My Spaceship,” side A’s most sparse and subtle arrangement. “Spaceship” is the self-reflective soundtrack to a Friday night spent alone; not necessarily sad, but the mood suggests solitude. Leitch’s contribution to the album concludes with “Jubilee,” a beautiful, swinging ditty and perhaps the best song, lyrically speaking, on the album. “I thought that you’d accept my invitation to my nonexistent jubilee” is a line that will resonate with most listeners; a perfect closer to a varied but cohesive addition to About a Million’s catalogue.

Side B presents another glimpse into the mad mind of Jeremy Ruggles. Ruggles is a master wordsmith, putting forth a mix of wry social commentary and dirty-laundry-airing. “In Defense of Korah” is an exemplary track. Banjo and guitar follow vivid lyrics with the occasional xylophone twinkle. The whole of side B sounds like a Clogs’ record that actually has something to say. “Let Me Stand in Your Fire,” a five-minute ballad, is an immensely emotional Americana jamb complete with guitar solo and not quite feel-good words about pain and things falling apart. The slow burn opens a somewhat jarring conclusion with “Light and Water,” heartbreaking and honest in the same vein as Mount Eerie. “The sun tells a lie to my skin. Jeremy, how obtuse do you want to be?” I’m not saying I cried, but I’m not saying I didn’t, either.

Sometimes split albums take what would be two great batches of tunes and creates more of an adventure. This is one of those splits. Leitch and Ruggles are undoubtedly some of the best song crafters I’ve ever known, and it’s a pleasure enjoy them in one neat package.”
-Jacob Watkins, Already Dead Tapes, 2018

Cassette Edition of 60