We spend so much time dissecting music and pondering what the point in making it is that we sometimes forget that people merely create music because it brings them joy. That’s the most surprisingly pleasant thing about the Minneapolis band American Scarecrows; they do what they love without having to put any other labels on it. The trio, made up of Seth Davin and Allen Maier (Dropping Daylight) and Matthew Broadbent (Somerset), has packed all of the experience of their years into music that tells a story of love, loss, and growth.
Like most developing artists, the band has gone through different members as it solidified their sound. The group began with Seth Davin and former member Kevin Mayer who met while in high school. Davin left school to tour with Dropping Daylight, in which Allen Maier also played drums, forming a bond that withstood many miles on the road. In the meantime, Matthew Broadbent was touring full time with his band Somerset. As their paths diverged and eventually came back together, Davin and Mayer began collaborating on some music, which truly was the start of what became American Scarecrows. Refining their songs, the two recruited Maier and Broadbent to define the sound before they finished their debut album and headed to Austin, Texas for a SXSW showcase. Shifting again to another chapter of their lives, the band went through more change, losing one of their core members in July of 2012 when Mayer moved to Denver.
The first single, “Cheshire” off their new album, Yesteryear (June 2014), best embodies the band’s current direction. The song is an unabashedly honest love story about a girl from Northern Minnesota; the piece is a narrative masquerading as a pop song laced with fragile emotion and the buoyancy of young love. “The Peak,” the opening track on the album, is the band’s anthem and battle cry, outlining the trio’s evolution as musicians and men as they proclaim what’s worth fighting for. As you venture into the album, later tracks like “North Country” and “Gods of the West” peel back to reveal a more subtle sense of direction. Seth writes straightforward pieces, often immersed in indie-pop with tinges of old-school country. “North Country” can be deemed the most “country” on Yesteryear, perhaps due to the addition of Joe Savage on steel pedal, and is an ode to his roots that grow deep up on the Iron Range. “Gods of the West” dances around the intensely sharp and creative lyrics, connecting the audience to the person rather than the audience to the musician. Depending on where you are in life, each song on the album reaches out and lets you know you are not alone.
The trio transformed their compelling live show with its earnest tales, crafty hooks, and focused purposefulness into a profoundly dynamic yet supremely polished album. Their debut Keep Your Devils Around, released in October 2011, was written in a short span of time and contained many aptly-versed lyrics, and the new album keeps that in mind, yet explores it with a sharper focus on the sonic layers. Throughout the album, confidence is pitted against fragility, making the landscape of the record uniquely complex but an easily accessible snapshot of what American Scarecrows truly is: a beacon of unbounded hope in a cynical world.
It’s apparent listening to the three men that the past few years have been that of change, and how they were able to reflect and effectively channel the essence of those changes into their sound is admirable. American Scarecrows is a band that is only now realizing what they are capable of.
- Seth Davin
- Vocals, Guitar
- Matthew Broadbent
- Bass, Vocals
- Allen Maier
- Aaron Shekey
- Guitar, Vocals