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  • Jonathan Widran

ERIC SCHROEDER, Turned on the Stereo

Not to get overly spiritual on an incredible emerging indie rocker, but those who are cynical about or adamantly opposed to the concept of reincarnation (at least musically) might open their eyes and ears once they hear the wizened, world weary, struggling but never completely out of hope old soul of (supposedly) 21-year-old San Diego based singer/songwriter Eric Schroeder.

We’ve had young musical geniuses at that age (Lennon/McCartney and one of Schroeder’s heroes Brian Wilson, come to mind), but few in any generation throw lyrics at us with this much heavy, offbeat, poetic and searing life experience right off the bat. So for shits and giggles, why not speculate that some old edgy blues guy with similarly raw, rough but emphatic vocal power who had lived through hell just began inhabiting this amazing kid?

All seriousness aside, the bio that accompanies his hard-hitting, takes a few listens to fully absorb his off-kilter storytelling genius and melodic/harmonic magic full-length debut Turned on the Stereo offers a quote that hints at a complicated background: “I grew up in an unstable household where I was basically left to my own devices. I learned a lot about people and how cold the world is.”

From the get-go, as Schroeder captivates us with his raging, truly angry, punchy-funky rock fire on “Plan For Me,” we can feel blessed that he had this rough and tumble background. Gives him so much depth, confusion and pain for us to relate to – and on that tune, he's basically giving a whimsical “FU” to everyone who has an alternate plan for his life he has no desire to fulfill. A genius way to start, giving us the option to just dismiss him as another angsty Gen Z indie upstart, or embrace him as part of a promising future for indie rock.

Though you’ll have to go through Schroeder laments like the mournful chill-rock ballad “”The Kind of Wound That Never Heals” and the bluesy breaker upper “Claire’s Song,” the narrative and musical rewards are still quite plentiful. For instance the glorious contrast on “Mother Said” between the somber sense of rebellion, loneliness and dual reflection on his youth and current crises and the fun, loping grooves indicative of writing it on a farm in Maui.

And the clever rhyming and gorgeous, Beach Boyesque vocal harmonies on “Stayed The Same” are so infectious/intoxicating you might not even care that the singer calls the narrative “word salad poetry, gobbeldy-gook.” Another treat is his stellar, sometimes rough, often playfully jangling guitar playing throughout – mostly electric and electrifying but concluding with his sweet acoustic strum on the enigmatic but cathartic closer “Parting (No. 2).”


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