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Continue Normal Living

by Absent City

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Limited edition run of Absent City's debut LP, pressed by Burlington Record Plant.

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if I go blind speak to me in rhyme I'll hold your outer world in fits of metered line it's not so bad, you know don't we all get tired of what we've had? you can double dash or green this scene I know my facts in all this time just trying to keep my mind some lightning inner resource when other comforts lied go bigger wave if you need it but don't we all get tired of being brave? come Saturdaytime frequency we'll misbehave, okay? hunted under gardens blow-the-cover trees it's windy where the farm is raining pretty autumn leaves time runs slow keep me where the good things grow
we were philosophers and fools in California afternoons that we knew would never last we had nothing else to do so we gave ourselves to you California afternoons why'd you move along so fast? I don't know if I can say if I wanted you to want for me to stay but why do you gotta call my name when the awful truth is that I'm the one who don't remain we were holding off the moon from California afternoons as we lay there in the park we had nothing else to prove so we made ourselves like you California afternoons why'd you let us get so dark? if I holler let me know might be halfway round the world before it shows on the BQE I look over at that postcard view been searching for a future me he's been dreaming of his past with you California afternoons
clean my clock, put my hands to bed wipe the numbers from my head if I can leave this house today throw me a ticker-tape parade nothing ever seems to change when we only rearrange so meet me at that new cafe in the window light where can find our way window we can find our way we'll find our way nothing's yours until you get it nothing's yours until you get this wrong and I wanna go home to a ship I know write this down: the streets are not the only medicine we've got if we make it through this mountain pass let's find a wave and maybe watch it crash maybe we can watch it crash we'll watch it crash nothing's yours until you get it nothing's yours until you get this wrong and I wanna go home to a ship I know nothing's yours until you get it they're closing every door while we get this wrong and I wanna go home to the only ship I know
Tomorrow 05:03
give me the strength to fight tomorrow and if I'm strange, don't call it sorrow every night in our eyes something bad might resign through the rooms of our like minds see the moon on the rise show me the way, I'll try to follow tell me what to say, before the night falls oh, I believe in everything an empty mind in sunlight brings see me shine for what I need heaven help a wreck like me the day in reverse were my last words wrong? this spiral darkness you and me holding on
for years I've tried to feel normal in their eyes so I'll fake it fine tonight in an old refrain from the royal county lines only halfway through all the plans I made to pay my dues paper-thin and easy to bruise I'm cursing what I've learned for seeming true I'll be coming back as a beam of light on the need-to-know with the scene and the afterglow don't think I can take much more oh, bury me on some quiet fire road pour into my thoughts and find the reasons I forgot to have or not is it all the same with the kind of luck we got? I'll be coming back with a lighter load once in a while, I might feel less low life in a mind like this one is never what you'd ask for so turn the key to keep me on and I'll be coming back as the one you want all my very best on the bottom line but I'll be coming back as a beam of light
Empire Line 03:41
everybody needs to show if only just a little while before we go now I'm rolling home empire line past Rome and feel faster grown we raise our voices high to try and pray the faces stalled when it seems like nothing's gonna bend to our will at all city kids that sprawled and don't call his-and-hers window seats if big snow's gonna blow, don't make a scene whisper why to me, wine to kerosene and say what you mean the skyline flashing black and white like a disco ball the New York Times headlines you plastered on the wall making you feel small, and that's all and don't you know I'm waiting here for you? (I know I want it all, I went last fall and came back wrong)
No Harm 04:12
with a passion for cold inaction I'm flashing a badge of wait-and-see to lay there and smile might be fine for a while tired of the nights in pride no speak but this man could give a good goddamn if he'd open up the door so follow the hollow thing and find what a hindsight makes believe the covering sky is nothing if I go blind by some life I meant to lead now this fool don't want to play it so cool time on a tv screen been blinking the years by me if these words could ring through and be heard as good news fix my heart with wood glue are we too far gone to pretend we can't lose? in your arms, I'd do no harm I do no harm
Modern Art 05:14
I was born a bastard child left in baskets in the Nile but I never learned to stand back and watch that fucker burn oh, I know I'm losing control but I don't want to let it show that I can't let things go And I split my tongue asking for more mountained-up man must come down all my plans ain't working out have I just begun? strap me down and launch me into the sun at least it'd be something I'd done for now, hollow out my heart so we can find where the beating starts all the rest I'll mark as modern art seems like every bird I held in hand turned me twice as hard to understand on my grave make it say “I do the best I can” now with the water come rising high I lay me down and I close my eyes and I tell you, brother, the river doesn't wonder why
Solid Ground 03:59
I'll double down on solid ground when I see that shore how the night is dark when the light was all I wanted for you to take me for got my head in hands now we're stuck in broken lands we never thought we'd have to know watch it come to ruin all the fall-down news headlining low but I swear I don't care just tell me where we're going to or find me back in time when I hoped we might have more to lose we faced the crowd and screamed so loud for our time to come then I felt your touch it was just enough to keep these parlor words off my tongue from the rocky coast to the seaside ghosts on beaches hanging under heavy stars the terms of love for the lands I'm of have torn apart oh, I swear I don't care just tell me where we're going to or find me back in time when I hoped we might have more to lose I swear I'm prepared to strike out where we might be young or find us marking time to November crimes you and I'll become
Strike 04:30
now I know you can never trust the man with an offer in his hand even if it's what you planned so we agree to believe in something else before this quaking world melts I wish it…mostly well in the weeds of a weekend dream you hit on a scheme that seems to fit and I swear, I'm into it it's a long ride from the tower where we met fissioned thin, half-dead then cracked the ceiling back instead how the reasons turn to backwards when we learn that they're such bastards and you're the kind of match who wasn't sure that she would catch I'll meet you halfway in between Broadway and any field of green everyone gets stuck but let's not give a fuck


Absent City’s debut full-length, Continue Normal Living, is an album of tender dreams and precarious schemes. In glimmering, intricate guitar pop that brings to mind Yo La Tengo, Luna, the Clientele, Electrelane, or the Go-Betweens, the record reveals itself to be many things at once: prophecy and lament, declaration of hope and survey of self-limitation, a course toward an inscrutable future and a spotty odyssey of unexpected return.

In 2014, following the fracture of his Brooklyn dream pop band, Tiger Dare, Bay Area native Henry Freedland found himself generally wrecked: working an impossible job, romantically marooned, isolated by anxious inaction. But late at night in his tiny apartment, he kept writing music that sought answers amid chaos. Songs about fighting anhedonia and dizzying insomnia and financial despair and a sense of abject failure. About imposter syndrome (“for years I’ve tried / to feel normal in their eyes / so I’ll fake it fine tonight,” in “Beam of Light”) and a heartsick experience of a cruelly inequitable world (“the terms of love / with the lands I’m of / have torn apart,” per “Solid Ground”).

Soon Freedland joined with drummer Liz Maynes-Aminzade and bassist Sam Bloch to realize these songs and more as Absent City. Life’s promises slowly fell into repair, too—he fell in love, got engaged—bringing an uplift to the scene, a refound sense of wonder and possibility.

In 2018, the band began recording at Brooklyn’s Four Foot Studios with Tiger Dare engineer and producer Gabriel Galvin, a maestro of warm atmospherics. Late-night session by session, the album emerged, as Maynes-Aminzade’s expressive percussion and Bloch’s scooping bass lines shored up interwoven layers of dreamy guitars and lush arrangements full of organ, strings, woodwinds, and more. With Galvin at the helm, the songs took dynamic form—building and retracting and then building back again twice as strong, earning their roiling bridges, bounding solos, and outros of thundering, grand release.

Then, as recording sessions neared completion, life again began leading Freedland to new places. He and his wife found out they were expecting their first child. They began planning to move back westward, to Oakland. And all of a sudden, it became clear this was the story the record had been foretelling all along. Notice had been lying in wait on songs of imagined plans, frantic escapes, journeys from city to fields of green—on the woozy, half-speed, surf-at-night anthem “California Afternoons.” “I’ve been searching for a future me,” Freedland sings on that track, “he’s been dreaming of his past with you.”

So it’s only fitting that Continue Normal Living should be the first release of new Bay Area collective label Homing Instinct Records. It is, after all, an album that gives the sense of somehow being nostalgic for tomorrow, a record of putting the pieces back together and finding they were more than they seemed—a new old endeavor from a strange familiar place.


released October 9, 2020

Performed by Absent City
All songs written by Henry Freedland
Recorded, produced, and mixed by Gabriel Galvin at Four Foot Studios
Mastered by Josh Bonati

HENRY FREEDLAND guitars, vocals, keys (+ clarinet, saxophone, accordion, kalimba, melodica, bass harmonica, mandolin, harmonium, sitar)
LIZ MAYNES AMINZADE drums, percussion, vocals

GABRIEL GALVIN guitars (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8), keys (all except 7), mandolin (4), bass harmonica (4), percussion (4, 6, 8), bass (5, 7, 8, 10), theremin (6), vocals (6, 10), plants in the breeze (8), lap steel (9), sitar (10)
BEKAH SHAUGHNESSY vocals (tracks, 1, 3, 6)
RYANN LIEBENTHAL violin (track 10)

Design and Layout by Elizabeth Goodspeed
Front cover image by Robert Crabtree of TREES studio
Insert art from a proclamation issued by the Oakland Defense Council, c. 1941

Thanks to Ryann Liebenthal, Gabriel Galvin, Cybelle Tondu, Allison Morgan, Danny Bowman, Noah Kardos-Fein, Michelle Snow, Can Misirlioglu, and everyone else who made this record possible.


all rights reserved



Absent City Oakland, California

“gentle, worried anthems”

formed in Brooklyn, based in Oakland: Henry Freedland, Liz Maynes-Aminzade, Sam Bloch.


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