The other day I was sad. I was grieving for the old normal and needed to shut off my brain for a little while. I put on my headphones, spread myself onto my bedroom floor, and pushed play on Kyle Stringer's solo project House Plants (which is both the name of the "band" as well as the title for the album.). I cried for the first time in a while. You may think that a weird statement to start an album review, but in my mind, if music evokes strong emotion, it's an excellent album. The crying led to a smile, which led to a laugh, then onto a small boogie-dance session, which ended with thinking many thoughts and feelings about my life. All that and more are encompassed in the various moods of House Plants.
Stringer has grown up playing music, starting on Euphonium (a tiny tuba) in elementary school as well as learning guitar. "My love has pretty much always been the bass, though," Stringer says. "I love how it glues music together. It's really the unsung hero of music! Listening to it and playing it is so rewarding." He also works as a music therapist at a Veteran's Home in Napa County, where he uses music to heal.
Up until the life-sucking shutdowns, Stringer was in Oakland-based rock band Milk For The Angry. But because surviving in life is about making the best of bad situations, Stringer felt that now that he wasn't able to gig, he had the chance to record many of his own songs that he had been stockpiling over the last five years. Like most musicians recording in this particular historical period of time, Stringer created this album by recording in his bedroom on his computer while doing most of the vocals and instrumentation himself (including his Squier Strat and Silvertone Archtop plus lots of pedal effect, as well as his trusty Rickenbacker 4003 bass and more). He had friends on board who filled in various musical parts from their own bedrooms across the country with file sharing. Welcome to the Pandemic Age of recording music.