It’s a tough lot, being the flagship band on a willfully obscure record label (in this case, indie-rock institution Shrimper), but Refrigerator’s never taken the easy path. The group has rarely toured, its albums are hard to find, and its jangly, off-kilter sound is more of a slow-burn obsession than love at first listen. Built around Allen Callaci’s blue-collar soulful voice, 11th album High Desert Lows (produced by Simon Joyner, who also plays and sings on the LP) shows the band in a blue period. These songs are mournful and searching, a withering waltz here, a cock-eyed folk ballad there. Swooning strings and twinkly pianos abound, but the general vibe is idiosyncratic Americana.
“I look at the album as a dog-eared, dime-store paperback short-story collection where the stories are not all directly connected but are loosely tied,” says Callaci. “The shadows of Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, who were all lost as High Desert Lows was being put together, loom on the record like a storm cloud quietly wandering from horizon to horizon. Although High Desert Lows is one of the darker things we have done in our 27-plus years as a band, collaborating with Simon and the amazing musicians that call Omaha their home was one of the most mystic and joyous recording experiences I’ve ever been part of.”
High Desert Lows is out on Friday (you can preorder it here), and Refrigerator will celebrate its release on March 3 at the dA Center For The Performing Arts in Pomona, Calif., with a two-hour performance and an music-related art exhibit by guitarist (and Shrimper CEO) Dennis Callaci. In the meantime, you can stream High Desert Lows exclusively right here at magnetmagazine.com. Do so right now.