Home Feature Calgary’s the Dust Collectors share track-by-track breakdown of debut album Outside In

Calgary’s the Dust Collectors share track-by-track breakdown of debut album Outside In

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Calgary folk-rock band The Dust Collectors have had a busy year so far. Hot on the heels of two EP releases, the Dust Collectors recently released their debut full-length album, Outside In (Neon Moon Records) – the ultimate culmination of their hard work over the years.

Showcasing the band’s ability to blend their rock, folk, and country influences flawlessly, Outside In draws the listener in with toe-tapping rhythms – and keeps you hooked with vivid storytelling and satisfying four-part harmonies. With each member coming from different places of influence, the result is a blend of country, folk and rock that is both bitter and sweet to the listener’s ears – bringing to mind classic collectives like The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The Dust Collectors have graciously shared a track-by-track breakdown of the album, digging deeper into the stories and meaning behind each track! Check it out below!

  1. Shoulder Season

“Waiting on the shoulder season, waiting on the sun, waiting on the robin to sing that familiar song, I guess I’m dreaming, dreams don’t get you through”

As soon as we completed this song, we felt it should probably be the album opener. It captures who we are as a band quite well. It’s fun, lively and bursts into powerful harmonies at the right moments.

The song feels very cinematic and even though the setting is someone driving down the highway, to us it feels like it could belong in a spaghetti western from 50 years ago. It even ends in an unresolved way, which is typical of movie music from that era. Sometimes these things just write themselves…

  1. Murder, I Wrote

“Clothes on the line now scattered in the wind, lights left on by the door

Hands still shaking, I’m trembling, Lord, she can’t hear me crying anymore”

We love murder ballads and had to have one of our own. This is another very visual song, you can close your eyes and follow along with the story: boy meets girl, girl leaves boy, boy buries girl in the backyard. There’s a great a cappella moment in the final chorus where we could be mistaken for the Backstreet Boys, but I don’t think they ever had a murder ballad, or did they?

  1. Take A Dive

“Take a dive, take a dive, swallow all your stupid pride, now is not the time to be a better man Hit the canvas like a stone and you might make it out alive, you don’t mess around with crooked bookie men”

This song is set in New York about 100 years ago. It’s about a boxer who has a sudden crisis of conscience and high stakes consequences.

We pictured the song being sung way back when, so we recorded it using only instruments that would have been around in the 1920’s, even the snare drum was replaced by hand claps. This is a really popular song with kids and the elderly. We don’t know what that means but now we have a new target demographic I guess.

  1. Keeping Time

“Saw my breath on the morning sun, frost that breaks the day, hoped that hour would never find me Clocks are now all an hour behind, saving daylight or just piece of mind, being rich is having time worth saving”

“Keeping Time” was a track that started out sounding totally different, then we added those snappy guitar parts and the drums followed suit and all of a sudden we had this upbeat, dancey song that somehow feels loose and tight at the same time. The lyrics of the song are about how you try to take control of time but in truth time is always out of your control, or something like that.

  1. Dandelion

“Thought you were a flower, like a flower I watched you grow, left my heart out on the line For all those hours, you became the girl I know, turned out you were a dandelion”

Dandelion is about unconditional love, and how no matter how much someone self-destructs, you will always make a little space for them. Everyone deserves forgiveness. Musically we wanted it to sound a little like a two-way conversation, so there’s a female vocal that shares the spotlight throughout (shoutout to the amazing Dayna Moritz). This song is probably more country than it is folk, but the intro and solo are played on violin, which even sounds a little Celtic, so we’re not even sure ourselves what genre of music this is. Listen and decide for yourself I guess.

  1. Black Fly

“Lord knows, I just couldn’t say, should I go, should I stay. Kinda feel like that black fly buzzin’ round the window”

Have you ever just stared at a fly trying to escape through the kitchen window and realized that the fly doesn’t know that there’s several alternative routes to get to where it wants to go, so it keeps banging its head against the same window over and over. And then you realize that this is also a metaphor for several situations in your own life… No? Nevermind then.

  1. Here’s Hoping

“Take my money, it’s too easy, watch me fall in line. I’ll fold, I swear to God they catch me everytime”

We love this song because it’s really short with limited lyrics, and yet you can immediately place yourself in a room with this person and understand the situation. It’s about gambling and how we all keep going back to the same place expecting different results. It’s the hope that will kill you. Another metaphor song I guess, who knew?!

  1. Waiting Game

“You’ve got a way with deception, I see the truth in your eyes. But some day karma will catch you, you’ll never outrun the lies”

This is where the album starts to change direction, which is why this is track one on side B when you listen on vinyl. Everything about this song is pissed off: the lyrics, the vocals, the instrumentation. This is the only song on the album that doesn’t have harmonies. It feels personal and direct, so we didn’t want to add any additional voices just for the sake of it. This is a great song to listen to right before you start an argument with someone or if you need to summon courage to ask your boss for a day off.

  1. Bullshit & Lies

“I get long-winded when I’ve been drinking, I’m gonna tell you about it now. It started in high school, never been lied to, most of us weren’t even very tall”

It occurred to us that most people have a compelling desire to over-embellish stories about themselves and situations they have found themselves in, ourselves included, so we thought that would be a good topic for a song. Musically, this was actually two unfinished songs that worked well when we shoved them together as one. We also wanted to appear edgy, so we wrote lyrics that involved lying and cursing and added some moody guitar parts using distortion pedals from the 90’s.

  1. Flush & Plumb

“The bugs are creeping in, the mice not far behind. We made outside in, or did we just blur the lines?”

This is a love song to an old house. The lyrics read like a conversation. As a band we’re very heavily influenced by creative artistry, architecture, carpentry (hence the actual band name), so there was bound to be at least one song about that sort of stuff in here. Kind of like Pinnochio but more charming.

  1. Old No. 9 Train

“Who could tell, maybe I’d do it all anyway and end up all alone. Crossing wires and putting out fires just to light one on my nose. I’m hiding from the truth, I don’t know what to do, I can be someone else too, yeah”

The idea for this one came from keeping secrets and the extent people are willing to go to hide them. Or how sometimes it starts off as a little white lie and snowballs into a secret so big and bad that you don‘t want to confront, so you move to another country and change your name. Don’t we all overthink these things?

  1. Bad Talk

“Dig in your heels, you’re hoping for another one, the days still young but you’re trying to hold onto a thousand-pound fight that you just can’t win, you give a lot of push but you never give in”

Bad Talk is a song that has been with us for a long time, and still remains a favorite to play. It’s basically about being stubborn and being willing to do anything to win, even if it involves playing unfair. It’s a pretty simple little ditty but sometimes those are the best ones because you can focus on tapping your toes and humming along rather than having to invest time and work into dissecting every lyric and musical nuance. Sometimes seven chords is plenty.

  1. Better Times

“So button up your coat and get back on that road, somewhere out there we will find our home”

“Better Times” was written in a moment that felt like rock bottom, but wanting to embrace the moment with optimism and motivation for things to get better. It’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of message and the way that the song builds musically was supposed to reflect that. There’s a band that we love called The Avett Brothers, and this song in particular felt similar to the things we like about their musical style: honesty and hopefulness.

  1. Truth Be Told

“Let’s not wait till I get tired and my eyes fill up with doubt. Singing all different types of stories til all our hearts, they gave out”

Like the song that opens the album, this one always felt to us like it should be the closer. It’s a really nice, steady song about getting older and not harboring regrets, or at least not dwelling on the past for too long. And don’t doom scroll first thing in the morning. That’s a waste of time too. You should wake up and start your day with a coffee and listen to this song instead. Coffee’s for closers only.

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