Pale Cicada

by Makeunder

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1.
Pale Cicada 03:57
I wanna drift away from this brutal town let it sink into the ground with no story to tell a dying thunder in the darkness rattling in its mouth These days I'm living in a run-down plaster home where I witness the years peeling off one by one - The pale cicada in the autumn singing all alone I know that I can't help myself How do I live with this sadness? Give me something real I can't help myself from feeling down When I know what I'm predisposed to Don't tell me who I am I can't help but make you the effect of my cause Oh yes I wish I could believe I was someone that I never was And will never be What is that shadow need that's telling you to say That you claim my spirit but you never did relate? Telling me I'm a dying thunder in a wreck-yard chest Driving over the tracks, clapping hands with the Dead singing I know that I can't help myself How do I live with this sadness? Yeah give me something real Before I sink into the ground with no story to tell I can't help myself from feeling down When I know what I'm predisposed to Don't tell me who I am I can't help but make you the effect of my cause Oh yes I wish I could believe I was someone that I never was Maybe I'll always be The pale cicada, Singing alone in this rough trash city I know that I can't help myself How do I live With this sadness? Give me something real Before I sink into the ground with no story to tell
2.
Snap out of the dream-like fix When I run to punch the ticket That's when I start my second shift Step with me on the warehouse floor I can barely make the rate When I move across these packages In between my dead-end jobs What do I do If I lose every reason And I can't make it through I'll paint you another picture Put on a part-time retail skin That's how I start my first shift Step with me behind the counter Boss berates me every day When I serve a million endless faces See, my eyes are glazing over as my focus sits on the truth The world spins indifferently I can't get a break for nothing It costs an arm and a leg So I spend the youth that's left in me In between my dead-end jobs What do I do If I lose every reason And I can't make it through In between my dead-end jobs Where do I go If I'm stranded, broke and hopeless My future illegible With so much to lose Now I hold on for a distraction Keep my breath above the water Forget the nature of the question Now I hold on for a distraction scraping one paycheck ahead Of the three stamp claps of a disposession I hold on for a distraction But I know it just don't matter Can't seem to climb up on the latter You tell me we'll be all right You believe it Well, we ain't got another plan So snap out of the fix and wait for the sun to come up and do it again In between my dead-end jobs What do I do If I lose every reason And I can't make it through In between my dead-end jobs Where do I go If I'm stranded, broke and hopeless My future illegible With so much to lose
3.
You're a flash of light Against the monochrome And from the mouth you strike A ringing chord that I've been listening for You whisper "yes, it's real" I touch your electric skin How do we live in this forever A lone verse apart from a ruined world That don't sing much anymore Maybe I haven't found My people yet Ayahuasca in The desert with a stranger I just met I take you to the river Get hitched D-I-Y Your mama cries "what a life!" And though your daddy don't approve In time, he'll see my follow through We'll dance the hora to the B-52s Yeah I wanna show you the mind What is real and what is not I tell you what I want Leave your afflictions at the door Don't matter what came before Forget your distant woes I came alive at twenty-four And then at twenty-five I died again Well, that was long ago And now I'm old enough To see the difference Between withdrawal And survival Yeah
4.
Begin in the Middle Two-Thousand Eleven Long after you first saw your daddy communing with the dead He's a tongue-spitting fire, he's an old faded wreckage He never thought to pass on the message What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold on - Let's begin in the middle of the progression These houses rise, they fall - "Crumbled, extended, removed, forgotten" There's the open field where nothing's ever happened And the redwood grove where they spread his ashes You never thought to ask him Now you look for an answer Begin in the middle You look in vain For a rumination Haunted by the pain What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto? What do I have to hold onto?
5.
V1 The memory gone The forest with the fire But I can still taste the sweat on the tongue After it all O nameless bird in flight! Never settles on its feet A vision of another time and song After it all Whisper into my ear Don't tell them 'bout the ember I will hold it in my head till it boils After it all I need to make you understand Deliberate the point of the land I can still taste the sweat on the tongue After it all After it all CH1 You can never say these things to another soul you tell me "Tell no one" But I will never forget that day so I sing it softly to myself In my own way V2 Faint stars in your eyes Your hair smells like lavender We're walking deeper through the understory After it all Take off your disguise Celebrate Promethean Heat The sun setting on canopy edge After it ends Lead me into your arms Lead me upon your lips I can still taste the sweat on the tongue After it all Cry from the distance "NO" The ember flees the cavern of my mouth And sets flame to the hole of it all Whole of it all After it all CH2 You can never say these things to another soul you tell me "Tell no one" But I will never forget that day so I sing it softly to myself In my own way
6.
Another Ruse 04:25
You shed your lovely golden skin And I stayed the whole of the summer span All alone thinking where do I begin? I rest my eyes and hope for another plan I feel my red emotion begin to fade Tied up in a vernacular pain I've seen the dirt flood the streets and the tract homes erase I wanna give you the truth, wanna give it to you straight Before I run into another ruse Until I run into another ruse It takes a fool to breath in the air It takes a fool to leave all that behind It takes a fair bit of cool to begin in the fall So take that despair and find me after it all Before I run into another ruse Until I run into another ruse Into another ruse Before I run into another ruse Into another ruse No - I can't run
7.
There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me Can we re-live back when we were kids Walking through the neighborhood stoned Camped in the ditch behind the power grid Talking shit and laying low Let's dump those fifths from your mama's liquor cabinet While she sleeps in her chair That summer it hit one hundred six And whiskey never fixed the central air There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me Greek chorus declaiming on the pavement "Time to lose your woes!" You've got to give yourself some distance to figure it out Before you lose control What you wouldn't give to relive that bruised Fist to your father's nose I bet you couldn't hit him hard enough to atone For all the years he stole Will you spend forever paying down that heavy debt You never asked for? Can we pretend we're fifteen and forget the rest? There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There is still something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me There's something that's moving in me
8.
There's an overgrown garden that's claimed the yard A tangled mess of thorns that never let in a love song Dishes stacked in the sink, three months of clothes piled on the bed I can't get out of my head for a minute Lead me back to heaven - I used to get on unattended In a trailer marooned on a roadless stretch of the north coast I never needed that much, just a roof in the right place When we save up enough and move back The struggle won't seem so bad They can never take that from us Do you think that you could love me the way that I need? Would you settle on me if I'm still living wrongly? I'm still living wrongly In denial and withdrawal I am a broken road, run down by every lover, drifter and ghost That's ever come along I'm still living wrongly At least I know I know where I belong I know where I belong There's an overgrown garden planted in the heart And a home painted ochre and blonde That I'll get around to fixing up, time permitting And when your hair turns to gray, I'll still love you The same as that first day We sat upon the front step, arm-in-arm Lead me back to heaven - I wanna stay lost I swear they'll never take this from us
9.
Ain't that a trip the way the existential story took a dive A new age hippy quaker looking for a place to hide What a gracious golden gift the world's lucky you're alive Yeah you look back you wonder what you missed Out on that trip. What did you miss? You put some ochre on the palette when the painting's looking dry You're waking up defeated - how affecting was the lie? Syncopated hallelujah in a heathen's nine-to-five I'm looking back and wondered how I lived ... Maybe I never did - Yeah Ain't that a trip? Oh yes, it's real! Everybody wants a permanent location At least a way to pay the rent A gentle soul who's on your wavelength Put a life back together again In the third act when the aspartame becomes formaldehyde Before the vedic heat death claims the oceans and the skies Stay with me now stay forever - stay as long as you like You don't have to wonder how you lived Cause I know we'll be just fine Ain't that a trip? Oh yes, it's real!

about

When people ask me, “where are you from?”, I tell them I was born in California but grew up in Texas. The longer version has always felt too complicated – when I was two, my unorthodox parents moved my siblings and me from rural northern California to suburban San Antonio hoping to find work. We struggled, never really finding our place there, and those impressions of alienation and hardship have left me feeling like a stranger everywhere I’ve ever lived since. And even this longer version, which took me years to learn how to express, doesn’t do the story justice. After a lifetime of composing music as a means of escaping these feelings, I recorded Pale Cicada to come to terms with my impressions of growing up poor and out-of-step in America, and to reflect on how my eccentric family and I managed to survive through it. Ramshackle and chaotic, the songs migrate from R&B to clav funk to country, as if Stevie Wonder, Prince, Sturgill Simpson and St. Vincent conspired to make a voodoo doll out of me and pushed air through my vocal chords in the studio. The stories told on the album are meant to be both subversively upbeat and crushingly tragic, greatly complicated by the questions left unanswered when my father died of lung cancer in 2011, before I was old enough to see things from his perspective. Truthfully, I found the songwriting process overwhelmingly painful, but ultimately cathartic – and now that the record is done and I’ve gotten my own story straight, I feel a little more at peace when I tell people the shorter version.

credits

released June 28, 2019

Hamilton Ulmer – vocals, keys, guitars, synths, production
Van Jackson-Weaver – guitars
Scott Padden – bass (01, 02, 07)
Nathaniel Brenner - production (04), bass (05)
John Doing – drums (01, 02, 05-08)
Matt Schory - drums (09)
Mario Godoy - saxophones (01, 02, 03)
Carolyn Walter - saxophones (01)
Sasha Launer - flutes (07)
Sarah Bonomo - clarinets (06)
Jeff Anderle - clarinets (07)
Ross Eustis - trumpet (02)
Danny Lubin-Laden - trombone (02)
Cassandra Bequary - violin (03, 07, 08 ,09)
Tatiana Trono - viola (08)
Charly Akert - cello (03, 08, 09)

LYRICS, SONGWRITING & PRODUCTION –
HAMILTON ULMER

TRACKING –
IAN PELLICCI

VOCAL PRODUCTION (02,04,05) –
DOUGLAS SHOWALTER

PRODUCTION (04) –
NATHANIEL BRENNER

MIX –
NICK LOBEL

MASTER –
DALE BECKER

ALBUM COVER –
GABRIEL SCHAMA



released on Good Eye Records

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Makeunder Oakland, California

Led by songwriter Hamilton Ulmer, Makeunder wrestles diverse tastes - from Renaissance motet, to art rock, to 90's R&B, synth pop, soul, & modern orchestral music - into powerful songs about death, survival, migration, & loss.

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