Whistler Isaiah - Small Yard EP


Limited to 500 copies on Translucent Smoke colored vinyl.

Small Yard is kaleidoscopic in the way it cycles through memories -- both the people and the places we’ve been, the anxieties that have followed, and how all of that leads us to who we are as adults. It’s a dizzying and tenderly arranged collage of childhood and how the past shapes the present, threaded together with a decade-long struggle with mental health as well as gradual ascent to quiet self-confidence.

The debut solo release from Whistler Isaiah Allen, known for his work as the drummer in Hippo Campus, is a subdued and deeply personal collection of songs culled from years of Allen’s solo songwriting work. A drummer who’s dabbled in other instruments since a child and been seriously writing his own songs since 2010, Allen’s debut EP Small Yard pulls from his work across the last seven years, an artifact of his evolution of songwriting, and how the old and new meet.

Allen began work on the EP with producer Caleb Hinz (Samia, Hippo Campus) in early 2020, with his Hippo Campus bandmates Nathan Stocker and Jake Luppen swinging by the studio to occasionally add instrumentation on top of the delicate, guitar-driven world Allen was building. Then, after a long delay due to the pandemic, Allen returned to Small Yard and finished production himself over the summer. The final result, Allen explains, were the songs he felt deserved some sort of light; “simplistic in a lot of ways, while fulfilling and beautiful in the right ways.” For him, releasing this collection was a longtime coming.

Sonically, Small Yard is tender, the sharp-edges of tension softened by a muted, gentle delivery and delicate guitar lines. “Baseball Cap” hovers with a dream-like spaciousness, while the glimmering piano and doubled up vocals on “New Boy” feel like swimming through quicksand. “Running” is a slow burn, a mounting tension that mirrors a pounding heartbeat until it hits a cinematic crescendo.

There’s a palpable cerebrally spanning the five tracks, both instrumentally and in Allen’s storytelling. Allen is a thoughtful writer, and mental health is the through line. Allen has been in therapy for almost ten years, and it’s played an integral role in his growth as a young adult approaching not-so-young adulthood. He’s straightforward with his struggles here - writing overtly about anxiety, the concept of home, divorce, rough patches with relationships in his personal life. “New Boy'' details gaining success at a relatively young age and grappling with guilt or undeservingness that comes with feeling like you're not supposed to have it. “Coming Home'' functions as a sort of conversation with fans, Allen describing the intense anxiety he deals with while touring and his own struggles to perform live. It’s less about trying to ‘explain’ himself and more about being open, vulnerable, and simply writing candidly about his own story. “Expressing my struggles with mental health and anxiety is where a lot of my material comes from. ” Allen explains. “I eventually realized that taking care of myself would lead to me isolating myself from the fans more than i’d like. And i’m sorry if that has ever disappointed anyone."

For Allen, releasing Small Yard is a step in his own journey of quiet self-confidence, of believing what he does on his own is worth it. There’s a learning curve behind figuring out the meaning behind your own songs, standing on your own, making definitive and decisive statements. He elaborates: “I’ve suppressed a lot of myself throughout the years, and I’ve pushed myself to be less than I am. Releasing these songs is a practice of not allowing myself to do that anymore.”

Release Date: November 17, 2021
Format + Color: 12” + Translucent Smoke

01 Coming Home
02 Baseball Cap
03 Little Man
04 Running
05 New Boy

Cover Art By: David Kramer

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