Track Premiere! The Exit Bags – At Least I Know Now

7.29.23 by Matty McPherson

It’s been a grueling July. The heat is the giveaway, “hottest month recorded in human history”, after all. But it is in the details of the heat that therein lies the strangely cruel magnitude. Not too far from my house is an asphalt road. It was poorly paved over an underwater creek bed. Every winter shower, it bubble over and runs amok. The city nor the county chose to maintain the road. They let a stream of water spend the last 6 months gently dribble down and create algae debris and a litany of the most colorful weeds this side of North San Diego county. Well the heat proper finally dried that asphalt creek riverbed up. The magnitude is small, but the feeling lingers.

Anyways we turn our attention up towards Edmonton, Alberta, where my observation feels like naive, wishful. There’s more than 10 dozen fires currently raging up there. The magnitude of that destruction doesn’t escape me one bit from my time spent in Isla Vista where 2017-2020 burns imparted a new wariness amongst students of all ilk. And it rings in my head while in the thick of Michael James’ return to “The Exit Bags” moniker. Back in 2021 Michael came to Drongo with a tender, lowkey effort, Tower of Quiet. We premiered a track then! And now, James returns to Drongo with a new release, Our Sun Will Clean its Holy Wounds, out on September 1st. And he comes bearing a humid, thick bass-grounded slow burner of a cut that might as well be the soundtrack of the late stage summers from here on out. Here at Tabs Out, we (well, myself!) are getting out of our summer funk with a track premiere of The Exit Bags’ second single, “At Least I Know Now”. You’ll find the video & Bandcamp stream above and the image of album artwork below.

It’s an exceptional refinement of where Michael James’ slowcore-tinged palette was in 2021. There’s a humid THICK crunch to the sound that rushes to the red. The result of those pulsing drums and lurching bass that make up the bulk of the track proper. but also fragile quietLOUDquiet bursts that run amok towards the end. It all culminates in the kind that sounds both unwieldy expansive yet conveys the summer heat, if not personal anguish, bearing down on you. Whatever James is mining at here on “At Least I Know Now”, it’s conveyed with utmost deftness that defines the personality of each Drongo Release