Chicago EPs

by talons'

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Talons’ is the post-folk project of Mike Tolan (Six Parts Seven, Trouble Books, Superstorms). Since 2003, Tolan has been writing and recording short literal songs about life as a middle class midwesterner from his home in Ohio. Songs about the confusion of growing up in a weird world. Songs about breakups, fast food, alcohol, and the Internet set to music that mixes varying fidelities with field recordings; creating small, incomplete snapshots of life in a certain time and place.

Songs meant to fade with the passing of time.
Songs written to get through difficult things.
Songs written to try to make sense of the strange sadness of modern life.
Small imperfect songs that no one will hear unless they are listening for them.

As such, much of Talons’ music has existed below the mainstream radar, though it has seen release on small labels from Illinois, to Luxembourg, to Japan. It was never meant to be big. It would rather be honest, flawed and challenging.

In 2011, Tolan and his wife moved from Akron, OH to Chicago in hopes of finding some sort of work during what we now call “The Great Recession”. He had not written a song since 2009 and believed that the Talons’ band could very well be over. Songwriting is easy when you’re 21 and the world is divided neatly into good and bad.
There is wrong and right.
There is hope that the passing of time will fix all of the uncertainty that you are feeling and that the future “you” will have it figured out.
Great breakup songs come out of this time, as our high-school loves move away and as we constantly change as we try to find ourselves.
Everything is new.
Everything is huge.
It gets harder as you get older.
Things become more and more gray and all of the declarations of your youth are suddenly interrupted with “but’s” and “if’s”. Honesty gets harder too as you have to confront the reality of your life, realizing that you are an “adult” now and you can’t just keep acting like you are “about to do something”.
You are already doing it.
This is it.
And that can be hard to face.

All of this cycled through Tolan’s head as he worked as a bakery manager at a high-end grocery store to pay rent and his substantial school loans.
He stopped playing in bands because his schedule demanded that he be “on call”.
He stopped making things, and bought them instead.

But then one day the songs came back, to help -as they always had. They are different now because life is different. Still small, still flawed, but these songs are about “growing up” in a Recession. About accepting adulthood but also about dealing with the fact that it is not what you thought it would be. They are about a world that is falling apart around you but somehow you are OK.
Why is that?
Why do I get to be OK?

These songs became 4 EPs of new music- The Chicago EPs


released October 28, 2016

These 4 EPs were written in Chicago from 2013-2014.
Recorded at home in Chicago, IL and Novelty, OH by M Tolan 2013-2016

With help from:
Sommer Tolan- Singing on “Breaking Bad”, “Sounds”, & “Indiana”
Quin Kirchner- Drums on “Change”, “Sounds”, “Indiana”, “Endless outro”, “Jazz Chorus/High Art”, & “Link in Profile”
Erik Hall- Engineering on all QK drum parts
Keith Freund- Bass Clarinet on “Endless outro” & “Song for Bass VI”



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Track Name: Change
I wanted to change the world, but I ended up doing nothing all day.
Track Name: Breaking Bad
Should have rode my bike,
instead I roll up in a cloud of smoke like some old man
(but at least i got here).
And in between bands, I nurse my one beer and stare at the floor
wishing I had an iPhone so it wouldn’t be so clear
that I’m not talking to anyone.

And didn’t we go out just to find someone to stay home with?
Now that I’ve got you, I never want to go out alone again.
Just want to stay home watching Breaking Bad in bed.
Never want to go out alone again.
Track Name: Sounds
I’m losing my memory of my life before 2005.
Old photos on a crashed hard-drive. Pictures that I can’t find.
And I hear the sounds of things going away.
Track Name: The Plane
When the plane went down
you were at home.
But then the phone rang
but it was just me, checking in from work.
It slid across a road and into someone’s backyard.
And when it stopped

No one we knew died
No one we’d ever know died

But then the phone rang
but it was just me, checking in from work.
Track Name: Indiana
Driving across Indiana
Going back to where we couldn’t wait to leave.
Track Name: My life is an endless outro
He blew a tire on 65 North
Hit a retread in the road- was he looking at the wind-farm or down at his phone?
Went across the median towards the truck that I just passed.
I was on the phone with you complaining about my job.
Will my last words really be so trivial?
Alone in a rented Scion Cube, I’ll slide off into nothing.
Track Name: Milwaukee
Milwaukee (Ave.) tonight smells like the mall in middle school.
Not that I care
Not that anyone cares
Not that anybody cares.

When you’re gone I don’t know what to do with myself
so I eat trash and drink a ton,
I don’t know- probably end up sleeping on the couch
after scrolling through Netflix for half and hour,
I finally admit to myself that there’s nothing I’m gonna watch.
It’s funny how life can be so rad sometimes
Then it’s not

But for now I’m just wandering around, wondering if it’s too early to drink.
Past the Bucktown Greystones- type of places we’ll never own.
Kinda makes me sad, but I don’t know.
I guess I’m somewhere between relief and despair.
But the more I think about it, the less I care.
Track Name: All that hasn’t burned is drowned
The house across the street from us is burning down.
I woke up to the heat on my face.
I guess the wind must have been blowing the other way.
Now the water’s running in through the roof.
All over the couch and the new TV.
And the light from the flames is flashing on you while you sleep.
And there is calm at the end of all things.
Track Name: Richmond
I got off work at 10, drove 9 hours to Richmond.
I knew I wanted you then- I still don’t know if you were sure yet.
Listening to Boxer back to back to back to back:
“In the guest room, where we throw money at each other and cry”.
As the sun rises somewhere in western Virginia,
you’re the only thing that’s in my head.
And I won’t lose you again.

I won’t lose you again.
Track Name: Growing Up (pt.1)
Is growing up just getting better at letting yourself off the hook?
At learning not to look- or to look away from the things you could change but don’t?
(Sorry I never called you back)
Track Name: Work Stories
There’s trash blowing all around the parking lot, a PetCo cart on its side
on an island of mulch between the Ulta and the Starbucks-
Is this what the end of the world looks like?
Or is this just life?

Every day the sun rises over the Old Navy
And falls onto some shitty apartment building
Is this the only world we’re ever gonna know?
And worse, is this the one we’ll leave?
Track Name: Rabbit
There’s a rabbit in the parking garage
his left leg’s fucked and I don’t know if he knows which way is out.
In here where nothing’s soft, he’s sleeping in a pile of plastic bags and Styrofoam cups.

Our time is done
It was done before we were born

He rode his bike right under a bus.
Some days this goddamned city’s too much for me.
“So let’s go run away out into the woods”
LOL, baby, maybe just grow the fuck up.
I’m 31 and wearing a baseball hat to work.
Drowning in debt with no prospects
Living from check to check
My life is in…
Track Name: Toms
I just want to be a dad in badly fitting jeans.
Rolled up papers in my back pocket.
My hair thin, my arms crossed, staring at my burned out lawn but not thinking about loss.

Because it’s not about what we’ve lost
It’s what we hold and what we’re holding out for.

Then the rain came so I stayed inside,
looking around online for something to do.
Seems like my friends are all buying houses
while I’m cutting up someone’s bread at Whole Foods,
Thinking: “What the hell am I gonna do
in 10 years when I’m still paying on this loan?
With a rusted out Prius that I got from my mom?
And my poor wife in her threadbare Toms?”

But it’s not about what we’ve got
It’s what we give
And what we give up.
Track Name: Bonnie Billy
No one that I work with listens to Bonnie Billy-
How am I gonna survive for the next 20 years?
Back in college, everyone would listen to the Microphones,
here no one has heard of “Don’t wake me up”,
they haven’t even heard of “The Glow”.
But what the hell do I expect?
That was more than 10 years ago.

And I’ve been worrying that my favorite records have all already come out,
and I don’t even listen to them that much now- or honestly anything.
Can I really let go of this part of me that used to be everything?

I swore I’d never get out of this
I swore I’d never get out of this
I swore I’d never get out of this
I swore I’d never stop
Track Name: Had to work
…then one night, you try to go out again
and the old show house is for rent.
And the spray-painted sound-proofing carpet from the basement
is rolled up and out of the tree lawn.
Oh your time is gone now.
Your time is gone now.
Track Name: Tired of IPAs
I got tired of the IPAs
I was drinking every night,
that Summer that I stayed inside
in a city with no friends.
I’d get off of work at 10,
take the train home and we’d watch Lost
on our mattress on the kitchen floor-
I’ve never felt so close to anyone.

I go tired of irony when I was 28-
of making fun of everything-
I realized I actually thought that Fleetwood Mac were great.
But when I stopped laughing and tried to “Grow Up”,
I just saw the stupid and the sad
and I got cold and lost inside my head.

Now I’m missing my wife’s pregnancy
working overnight at a job that I hate,
just to keep our healthcare.
I guess these are the choices that we’ve gotta make.
Are these really the choices that we’ve gotta make?

Should I take Lake or North?
It’s 3AM, I guess I’d better take the freeway.
Half-asleep in the car, listening to the BBC on NPR
But fuck the World News, I’m worried about money
and our 20 week ultrasound.
I used to write songs about being 21 and lonely,
guess I’m an old man now.
What am I doing? What am I gonna do now
at 32 without a plan?
I guess I’ll keep making things,
try to “make do”
and find the good where I can.
Track Name: High Art is for the 1%
We’re out of touch
and we’re standing on the shoulders of the poor.
And we’re lonely
and in love with our phones.
I guess it’s telling that all my favorite bands
came out of the basements of the upper middle class.

And High Art is for the 1%
Track Name: Steady Hum
Writing songs about writing songs-
the words get harder as I get old.
And in the face of all that’s wrong,
I am resigned and I head on home.
Longing for that hopeful anger
that I felt when I was young.
Now there’s just a steady hum
where there used to be a song.

And have I got my hand in the ruin of everything?
Am I ruining everything?
Track Name: Link in profile
We have no patience and we think we know everything,
cuz we know how to find out online-
maybe that’s the same thing now.
Still i wonder if our brains are changing.
And if so, has something been lost?
But I guess that’s just my age talking.
Clinging to relevance as part of the last
generation that remembers our lives before
“The world wide web”
Before the texts
Before we took our phones to bed.
Track Name: After Talons’
After Talons’, I still had a lot to say.
But what used to be black-and-white…
Blah blah, it’s all the same shit, now I’m just a different age.
Driving home, eating Wendy’s, feeling sad about feeling tired
while out on a raft how many people are gonna die tonight?
Trying to get to the EU and if they do, they’re just gonna send them back.
So we just sigh and close the window, otherwise we’d have to act.