Stay outside. – Okay, for Now. EP (Review)

We shared Stay outside.‘s song “Void” with you recently as new music to check out. Well to be honest, we’ve not been able to get “Void” out of our heads for long since then. So we took the persistence of this music as a sign to go deeper with Stay outside.’s EP, Okay, for Now. This is their debut release, and includes six tracks.

Stay outside. (gotta stylize with lower case ‘o’ and a full stop, fam) are a three piece band from Indianapolis, Indiana, with members Aaron Becker, Garrett Johnston and Sean West. The band name has origins in these thoughts relating to outside:

Outside. It’s where we go to refresh. It’s where we go to experience the world untouched and uninfluenced by our own devices and doings. Going outside is leaving our small creation to be a part of something bigger. Outside is where life really happens. It’s an uncontrolled and free place that invokes inspiration.  Going outside is a journey away from what we expect and know. Outside is where we run to. Outside is where we want to stay.

Okay, for Now. (which we recognised as a lyric used in “Void”, which was released as a single) begins with the first track, “Wanderer”. This track’s clean guitar sound is very warm and open, truly reminding us of the expansiveness of being outside. Wide open in all directions. We may have gasped at the first lyric, “I am lost, wandering wanderer”, because that’s exactly how it sounds. That openness combined with the lyric made for a very heavy scene being instantly set. The lyrics continue on, heavily and darkly.

“I’m a lost cause
Biggest fear is failing and it feels wrong
Nothing I can do can help my lost cause”*

The second verse has drums join in, which doesn’t seem to lift the sound or ground it, just has it feel even more hard hitting, emotionally. The vocals take on an edge of desperation and I just sat listening and feeling deeply for this ‘lost cause’ character. This is probably the most vulnerable sad song I’ve heard sung for a long time. It was done beautifully, despite my wish that there was some kind of happy ending conclusion coming.

The second track, “Braveheart”, has a more focused sound but is also a really heartfelt tune.

“You found a way to work this out
So they don’t see your festering doubt
You found a way to stay alive
So you don’t have to try”

“Braveheart” feels that it’s spoken by someone has been taken through an emotional wringer and jumped through the hoops presented to them. Musically it again has an expansive outside sound with warm guitars and vulnerable vocals. It’s got very cool interludes along the way by way of skip beats in the drumming that poke at something far more disco-like than alternative rock. The bridge is my favourite part; when the song starts to lift and it feels like there’s more possibility and hope. These guys have such a great sound, it’s really quite.. intimate, for want of a better word. They are clearly giving their all, on all fronts.

“Broke” is the third track and as the song begins we are leaning into a country sound with a stretched out sound and casual guitar. This is an observation more than a criticism, because it works with the sound of a drunken tune of a broken man with a guitar.

“I took my time
Making these words rhyme
For your pleasure
A smoother drink is easy to go down”

The vocals are raw and incredibly, incredibly beautiful and not what you would expect to come from this band of hairy blokes (this is said with affection and a smile).

“Void” is next, our earworm with that incredible video. The song speaks for the handling of life in the face of trauma; Keep it all in, don’t show your pain. It’s another beautiful song and we’re moved by it every time. We love the easy feel of the song despite the angst in it, leading to the eventual scream.

“Lock & Key” is a track we really wish we had the lyrics to. It has more of a drum focus and feels pressure-some and anxious. Lyrically it seems to be touching on the concepts of covering up the truth and hiding demons. It’s heavier than other tracks in parts and the scream at the bridge is perfectly fitting.

“Wavering hope has got the best of me
I’ve got no relief from sleep
I’ll never feel the same”

“Lt. Dan” is the final song of Okay, for Now. It begins with sombre with piano and organ sound and long chords. It evolves into plaintive guitar and slow & heavy beats. The outro builds into an anthemic sound. “Lt. Dan” seems to be telling the tale of Lieutenant Dan, the character of “Forrest Gump”, which if you remember was the character that Forrest met when he was in Vietnam. Angry about being saved by Forrest and alive, despite missing his legs, Lt. Dan felt cheated of his destiny of dying in war, like the men in his family before him.

“My heart’s filled with grief
And I’m angry all day and all week
They cringe when they see
The bottom half of me
Is like a shark without any teeth”

“Lt. Dan” touches on faith, life, pride and death. A powerful song, on all fronts.

Okay, for Now. is an incredibly honest, vulnerable and powerful collection of songs. Each is unique and beautifully expresses the sentiment of the song, whether about emotional fragility, faith, or just coping with life. I am totally impressed by these six songs, as well as the impact they had on me. Stay outside. are something special and I can’t wait to see them get the recognition they deserve.

Stream Okay, for Now. here.

* We couldn’t find any ‘official’ lyrics for the EP, so we hope we got them right.

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