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Listening Party get smaller but wiser on ‘Same Ol’ Problems’

 Two men, one with a closely cropped beard and another with a longer beard down to his chest, look at the camera with serious expressions while standing against a concrete background.
Jessica Kaminski
The Refinery

Self-reflection has been a popular pastime these last few years. Sheltering in place has a funny way of making you turn inward, and some people have continued the practice after emerging into the big, wide world.

Listening Party know a thing or two about taking a long, hard look at yourself. After forming the band in 2013 and evolving into a trio, they eventually reached the mutual decision to drop back down to just two members: co-founders Jacob Wood and Weston Mueller. That — coupled with pandemic lockdowns — led to what turned out to be some productive self-doubt regarding whether they even wanted to continue as a duo.

We can call it “productive” because all of the soul searching turned into even more songwriting and the band’s first studio album in four years, the aptly titled Been a Long Time Comin’. Listening Party announced the Aug. 25 release today and shared the deeply biographical lead single, “Same Ol’ Problems.”

The folk/Americana band has drawn comparisons to The Lumineers, and you’ll hear it right away on the new track as a simple piano progression wanders through the first few seconds. More determined acoustic guitar and Mueller’s rich vocals pick up the pace, getting reinforcement from a gentle kick drum and harmonica.

But if the instrumentation wants to inject more energy, the story in the song just isn’t having it. As the band shared, it’s about “moving on from a friend whose addiction has taken hold and changed the person you know.” Told from the perspective of that struggling individual, there’s no hint of a happy ending. Make no mistake, this is a bleak tale with a beat:

One day I thought that things would get better on their own
Now I see that I'm the fool — I should’ve known
Maybe I'll be better off when all is said and done
Just leave me in the desert so I can feel the sun

You can listen to “Same Ol’ Problems” using the player at the top of the page, the single's out on streaming platforms now, and Listening Band will bring it to Bastille Days for their 9 p.m. show this Saturday on the Kilbourn Stage.