A Life of Crime

by Office Culture

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1.
05:01
You like just one type of rose I pluck ‘em from a thornbush in the country I buy ‘em at a country store We laid in the field off your warped little road I felt like a fish on your line You used to stroll home at nine, and I’d unplug the whole house Like we suddenly could pretend “Hey, we’re alone now” With the weathervane pulled hard to the right Come on baby, why don’t you do it? We can make it all alright, we can stare right through it It’s not a lover, it’s not a postcard, it’s not a sign Trust me, there’s not much to know Might’ve looked fun in the photos, but I hardly saw the show Lately I freeze like there’s nowhere to go Maybe a better man would just try And I play it straight ‘cause I’m on their dime And then it wells up in me That maybe I’d been too quick to post the listing That the weathervane had pulled hard to the right CHORUS They say I played it with too much heart Empty conviction, bow over the bridge, not looking the part And they say “You aren’t willing to do what it takes for the art” And I say “What? You mean dress up and frown?” So if this bar’s closing down, I better cash my chips out Might as well pretend I’m missed or I lost those old doubts That I finally found a way to rig the fight CHORUS And I didn’t know I had it ‘Til it got ugly with time It’s not a lover, it’s not a postcard, it’s not a sign
2.
The system is breaking down Wanted to sell those final shares But the devil's got 'em now I called when I was halfway out of town And I did the calculations, no one wins this one I thought that this old house would fix itself But it just sank a foot in the ground And the bills went the other way Hard times in the city, babe It's harder than you think Trying to parlay every deal Be every missing link Peter to pay Paul - that old routine I had no reservations, just a nuisance to the world I thought this noble work would save this town But it just sends a chill through me now Us frauds have hell to pay Hard times in the city, babe Too long, too long, too long Baby I’m loaded - afraid as sin Too long, too long, too long To have this debate again I mean it like a heart attack, baby I thought that this old house would wear us out But somehow we’re sticking around Lost in this dark parade Hard times in the city, babe
3.
05:04
Who is this guy anyway? The one who looks like Beetle Bailey Munching on that crudité Is this the guy that’s supposed to save me? Been pogo sticking round the Valley For half my life it almost seems Five years coming up with verbs To yell at lunches A year to fire off my team Oh, you might as well stick me up at a stoplight Turn me over, pat me down If you think that you’re so tough If you think you haven’t had enough If you think that you’re my diamond in the rough For me it’s chump change Don’t feel ashamed that this went south so quick You anted up to lose the pot You ever known pipe dreams to stick? It hurts me too man, I got a family What will those monsters think of me? Twisting on the hose for you, then some other poor recruits Living out some swindler’s dream But you might as well stick me up at a spotlight Turn me over, pat me down If you think that you’re so tough If you think you haven’t had enough If you think that you’re my diamond in the rough
4.
Broker me a deal Cut me off a piece I’ll move in shadows for you If you let me You could bury me a saint Bury me a thief But I’ll move a mountain for your love If you’d let me Everybody tries sometimes But fools, friends and lovers they can’t read the lines The blind following each other To a drum beating out of time across the street It could be something if you want it to be Sometimes it burns right through you But I move in shadows for your love Like the truth didn’t hurt enough Then I gotta try and fool you I move in shadows for our love Hold me a little closer I topple in the breeze But I’d move those clouds across the sun If you’d let me see Send in every form they sent Swallow every fee But I’d take a morning for the paper If you’d let me be Everybody tries sometimes But we found some comfort in these leaner times We loved them like a brother To a drum beating out of time across the street It could be something if you want it to be CHORUS Send me on some path, honey I need it, you know And some hard-earned cash or the reason that you had to go You never noticed me but I told you before It’s clear like a drum or a knock at your door CHORUS
5.
04:14
I can almost tell I could be happy I could be riding that banana boat out of town Trying some new shtick on these hucksters Like that’s devotion And we’re all caught up in the locomotion Too many times I set my heart to stun And it’s the reason that you’re calling me now I’d thought that you’d change the whole world Like you’re the one who’s chosen Now we’re lined up doing the locomotion Cross the T’s and dot the I’s, baby I’ve never known this kind of love I know, I know - I know we’re gonna rock it And talk their foolish talk tonight But they were wrong from the start And we got a home on high Got a home on high Take that kind of lover and be fine It was harder than some wild winds that blow Didn’t rustle those dead leaves at all You spend years faking while you’re losing You sat up front in the big truck but you never even got the thing moving All these costs that the state piles on The chutes you pulled and never shut There’s not much as easy as heartbreak It’s like sinking in the ocean But you clap, slide back in the locomotion Cross the T’s and dot the I’s, make me crazy But nothing’s ever good enough I know, I know - I know we’re gonna rock it And talk their foolish talk tonight But if we were wrong from the start, baby Then they got a home on high They got a home on high They’ll take another lover or be fine I know, I know, I know I’ve got a home on high They got a home on high Take that kind of lover or be fine
6.
03:29
Go to sleep, it’s still around eight The balloons are clinging to the floor My body’s just some dead weight And you’ve got time to waste on me, that’s for sure We clean the trash off of our doorstep Still you smell it everywhere And there’s no time to waste on it, leave it there And it’s fine, I’ll keep life out of our hair And they can try to help me And you can try not to leave But there are too many Waves in the ocean Fish in the sea Seems like everybody’s a runner now And there are races every day I’ve been trying to play the background But it feels fine to make a scene for a change I left our burden on the doorstep But there are dogs loose on the grounds Pretty soon they’ll chase us back into town At the bar they’ll laugh and buy us a round But it’ll take more than just a scare to shake us Back to where we feel free And there’s too many Waves in the ocean Fish in the sea
7.
02:43
That place lost its lustre, baby that’s a fact We sat like birds on a wire If there’s any chance we’re ever coming back It’ll be with hearts full of fire I cut some costs, pulled the streamers down Said “no more visitors, please” This place is a dump, at least I noticed now And I’ve got places to be So go on, march the street in time Like it’s some sort of beginning Are you in it to win it? Twirl your baton, jog and stretch in place The day is finally here Stood up through the skylight, hair all in my face I gave up all of your fear I loved you baby, let the record show I did my best to be me You wanted someone happy on his own I needed less to believe Things can be hard to believe So go on, march the street in time We’ll lock step ‘fore we’re finished Are you in it to win it?
8.
05:51
Look at me, I’m laughing Squinting in the morning light Stuck in someone’s else story A phantom from a lonely night Connor was tending bar and My heart was running tape But somewhere behind my mind I’d made my getaway They said it’d be a whiteout That we wouldn’t see the ground for days They sent all of the kids home Locked ‘em in their rooms to play But it was just a false flag A phony piece of bait A cheap thrill to fall asleep to When I get in late You wanna keep me guessing? It ain’t that hard to tell It feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Well, it took time but It feels fine not to get it If feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Or say you won’t In the pale moonlight It’s as far as I can throw you Still it feels like trust this time Once you reach the summit It’s easy to forget the climb Remember how we got here? Well, that’s an old debate If you want me to buy that story Set a better rate Well, you can probably tell me These aren’t affairs of state But it feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Well, it took time But it feels fine not to get it If feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Or say you won’t In the pale moonlight Our fathers play the jesters Our mothers scrape their violins We’re signing every paper Strangers to the state we’re in Saw us in a picture From some weekend getaway That day it came so easy It could never stay It seemed a strange vessel A Ponzi scheme for two It feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Well, it took time But it feels fine not to get it If feels fine not to know When you’ll come back here and want me Or say you won’t In the pale moonlight

about

Listening to Office Culture’s 'A Life of Crime' is like walking into a beloved old bar in a neighborhood where you no longer live: the staff welcomes you warmly, the drinks are just as strong, but the place feels haunted somehow—and you can’t tell if the familiar old faces are the ghosts, or if you are. On the surface, it’s easy to slot Winston Cook-Wilson into the canon of songwriters like Donald Fagen, Warren Zevon, maybe even early Tom Waits: sardonic sometimes but not unsentimental, crafting scenes of rainy nights in the city and giving life to the lonely lovers and goodhearted scoundrels who populate them. Listen closer and you may detect hints of Joni Mitchell: in the jazz-inflected chords and melodies that flow like conversations, the way a personal detail might widen into a universal observation within the scope of a line. Go even deeper and you’ll find a deep devotion to classic song form, inherited from early-20th-century pop standards. Taken all together, the music combines the most impressionistic strains of American songwriting with the most carefully structured.

This description may be leading you to an image of a man alone at the piano, spinning out stories all evening, but that’s only half the picture. Office Culture the band—which features Ian Wayne on guitar and keyboards, Pat Kelly on drums, and Charlie Kaplan on bass—creates a sonic world that’s as rich and enveloping as the narratives themselves, drawing from the immaculate surfaces of ‘70s and ‘80s soft rock, the quiet intensity of Talk Talk, the chilly expanses of ECM jazz. In 2019, these sounds are pretty familiar to good record collectors, but they’ve never been combined in quite this way, or married to a set of songs so affecting and incisive. In 'A Life of Crime,' the party’s always winding down, “the balloons are clinging to the floor,” but you find yourself wanting to stay. There’s an ex-lover across the room who might be persuaded to rekindle the old flame, or at least humor you for a while. And in your lost and besotted current state, the sad songs playing over the speakers are the most beautiful music in the world.

-Andy Cush, friend of Office Culture

credits

released November 1, 2019

Office Culture is:

Winston Cook-Wilson - vocals, synthesizers, piano, Rhodes
Ian Wayne - electric guitar, synthesizers, backing vocals
Charlie Kaplan - electric basses
Patrick Kelly - drums, percussion

Additional personnel:

Elisa Coia, Cassandra Jenkins - backing vocals (#1)
Cole Kamen-Green - trumpet (#2, #3, #4)
Alec Spiegelman - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute (#2, #3, #4)

Written and arranged by Office Culture
Recorded at Mason Jar Studio, Brooklyn, NY and Winston’s apartment
Engineered by Jeremy McDonald and Christopher Andrew McDonald
Mixed and mastered by Christopher Andrew McDonald
Additional recording by Winston Cook-Wilson

Design by Max Heimberger
Cover drawing by Jack McNutt

Special thanks: Ben Seretan, Caitlin Pasko, Dan Knishkowy, Andy Cush, Jack McNutt, Stacey and Cecilia McDonald, Grace and Jack McDonald, all our family and loved ones.

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Office Culture Brooklyn, New York

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