For many years Blake Skidmore served as the driving force of Old Hundred, a folk-rock band out of Columbus with a collectivist spirit and an experimental bent. They were contemporaries of Saintseneca, Counterfeit Madison, and a wealth of other acts that make me beam with pride to live in Ohio’s capitol. As Skidmore recently reflected in a nostalgic Facebook post, that band’s salad days were a marvelous time to be a music fan in Columbus, when the flourishing local scene included a subset of several dozen artists approaching folk-rock from artful, inspired angles.
In the case of Old Hundred’s consistently rewarding discography, that meant evolving from DIY stomp-the-floor sing-alongs into ornately produced sonic suites that split the difference between Fleet Foxes and Yo La Tengo. I wrote about them a lot when I worked for a local paper in Columbus, and we posted a couple tracks here at Stereogum as well. And now that Skidmore has relocated to Louisville, he’s begun recording under his own name again.
That starts in earnest with a new EP called Running Dream, out next week but streaming here today. The title alludes to closing track “Gold Coast,” a warmly minimalist ballad on which Skidmore sings: “Running in my dream/ Running from the girl/ She always comes for me/ Her voice is like a stream/ It’s winding through the sky/ It’s bending in the light.” But, in a cheeky move, he’s also covered Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream,” presenting it in similarly stripped-down and haunting fashion.
Even the more fully fleshed out songs on Running Dream err on the side of simple, direct songcraft with just enough window dressing to lend a dreamy quality to Skidmore’s music without plunging it headfirst into hallucination. “Back On The Horse” frames his voice, a gentle yearning warble in the Neil Young lineage, in straightforward strums and waves of sighing reverb. The gorgeous space-dirge “Blame Benji” echoes Grandaddy and Sparklehorse. On “Cherry Tree,” visions of a road trip to the coastline are carried along by a slow-rolling rhythm as steady as the tide and guitar chords that shimmer like sunlight on the waves.
It’s consistently lovely stuff, so dig into the whole of Running Dream below, where you can also find the previously released “Blame Benji” video.
Running Dream is out 4/2. Pre-order it here. Skidmore is playing release shows 4/7 in Louisville at the Living Room Series and 4/14 in Columbus at Rumba Cafe.