Self-described “piano slam rock” act Pocket Vinyl released their third full-length, Death Anxiety, earlier this year. The record was funded completely by a Kickstarter campaign, surpassing their initial goal by over $1,000. Vocalist/pianist Eric Stevenson frequently tours alone, using Pocket Vinyl as an alias for him and his wife, artist Elizabeth Jancewicz, who paints during their set, selling the piece to the highest bidder at the end of the night.
Death Anxiety is dark, and that element is introduced immediately, starting with the very first pounding keys on the opening track, “Don’t.” Stevenson acknowledges the heavy subject matter on the physical copy of the disc, with a statement that reads, “This album is not meant to be depressing, but rather exploratory.” Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the record is very self-aware, exploring topics such as religion, mental illness, death, and school shootings. “Foggy Mess” is the most musically diverse on the LP with a bluegrass undertone to it, featuring both a banjo and a harmonica, which differentiates it from the other songs that are mainly piano-driven.
“Salem Witch Trials” is a nine-minute instrumental track that Stevenson introduces by explaining that he once worked as a witch trial reenactment actor and wrote the song during that period, encouraging the audience to think about the trials while listening to it. Though the song begins to get tedious because of its length, its ambiguity gives the listener room to interpret it as they see fit.
The honesty that is found within Death Anxiety is what makes it real, chilling, and beautiful. Though the music has the same general theme, none of the tracks are identical, keeping the listener actively involved during its entire run.
In A Word: Haunting