About Bendigo

The sophomore album from Bendigo Fletcher, Two Things at Once unfolds like a storybook where the surreal and the ordinary become beautifully entangled. Over the course of 11 free-flowing and soul-easing tracks, the Kentucky-based band piece together a wildly colorful mosaic of scenes and characters and indelible images: glitter-drenched beds, Keith Haring paintings come to life, boxed wine and babushka dolls, flowers and moons and a bounty of baked goods. With a disarming balance of raw sincerity and dreamy eccentricity, lead vocalist/guitarist/banjo player Ryan Anderson embeds that storytelling with his wide-eyed perspective on the human experience, musing on such timely matters as existential uncertainty, the corrosive effects of late capitalism, and the need for collective care. In its lovely convergence of memory and fantasy and poetic observation, Two Things at Once endlessly offers what Anderson refers to as “glimpses of wonderment within the darkness,” gently providing guidance for living joyfully in an often-discouraging world.

The follow-up to their 2021 full-length debut Fits Of Laughter, Two Things at Once finds Bendigo Fletcher working again with producer Ken Coomer (a founding member of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo) and conjuring up a jangly form of country-rock that routinely spins off into unpredictable directions (hazy psychedelia, harmony-soaked folk, gorgeously shambolic alt-rock). “We made the last album in ten days, but for this record we let the songs flow and build themselves over a much longer period of time,” reveals Anderson, whose bandmates include Andrew Shupert (backing vocals, lead guitar), Evan Wagner (backing vocals, keys, guitar, auxiliary percussion), Conner Powell (bass), and Chris Weis (drums). Although Bendigo Fletcher partly recorded the LP at Southern Grooves in Memphis with Grammy-winning engineer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, John Prine, Margo Price), Two Things at Once mostly took shape at Coomer’s Cartoon Moon Recording in Nashville. “Ken’s really committed to staying open-minded and trying anything, which ends up adding an element of whimsy that threads itself into the album,” Anderson notes.

All throughout Two Things at Once, Bendigo Fletcher infuse their songs with the kind of stranger-than-fiction tales that stay etched forever in the listener’s heart and mind: Anderson’s story of hitchhiking with his brother at the age of five (on “Real 2 Me,” a freewheeling folk reverie featuring the ambiance of tree frogs and coyotes in the woods at night), a mystical experience in which a vision of a soon-to-be-departed cat saved Anderson from a late-night car wreck (on the exquisitely tender “Useful 4 U”), a wistful reminiscence of a magical winter morning in New York City (on “Rental Skates,” the epic and extravagantly composed closing track). Opening the album on a sudden burst of otherworldly static, “Upcountry Lemonade” turns Anderson’s daydream of quitting his job into a groove-heavy anthem he sums up as “a self-liberation adventure about riding away on a motorcycle I’ll never have.” Later, on “Ought Not,” lush mandolin lines and off-kilter picking patterns form the backdrop to an uneasy reflection on unreciprocated longing. “It’s about one of those situations where someone wants to be more than friends, and that little dance you do to try to keep the friendship going without letting anyone down,” Anderson explains.

For the centerpiece to Two Things at Once, Bendigo Fletcher channel all the inescapable grief and frustration of modern life into a defiant cry against despair. With its punchy rhythms, moody banjo melodies, and gloriously cathartic harmonies, “Sweet Tooth” emerged as Anderson attempted to “grapple with the realities of capitalism, major corporations and lobbying within our political framework to keep the rich rich and keep the poor poor”—ultimately transforming that inquiry into so much sublimely odd poetry. “That song comes from trying to not let the situation steal from us what makes us human—to scrape for compassion for the world and in our relationships, to make music, to cry together, to not let the fight for freedom take our joy,” says Anderson. “It’s like that paradox that life can be sad, but it is always beautiful. The beauty is in the coming together during the struggle, and fighting to keep perspective and try to make things better.”

Elsewhere on Two Things at Once, Bendigo Fletcher bring their shapeshifting musicality to lived-in explorations of love and loss, desperation and hope, isolation and connection. And on the album’s title track—a spiky and raucous piece imbued with an undeniably playful spirit, achieved in part by Weis’ use of a toy drum kit—the band fully surrenders to the inherent duality of living in tumultuous times. “The album title comes from trying to find peace in all the chaos, which is what the process of songwriting gives to me,” says Anderson, noting that “Two Things at Once” mines inspiration from Fritjof Capra’s 1975 book The Tao of Physics. “If you worry too much about the fact that anything can happen at any time, the pressure can be crippling—so it helps to try to sit and bear witness to all the examples of love and joy around you. Even in times of great pain there’s also some peace that needs to be found. There’s always more than meets the eye.”

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