Strange Ranger

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Philadelphia-based indie outfit Strange Ranger spent their first six years between Montana and Oregon, operating under the name Sioux Falls. A series of D.I.Y. EPs paved the road to their 2016 debut, a dramatic post-punk double-LP called Rot Forever. Adopting their current name and heading east, the group softened their sound somewhat on 2017′s more atmospheric Daymoon, then expanded both their membership and sonic palette for 2019′s Remembering the Rockets. As they headed into the next decade, Strange Ranger’s approach became even more experimental on 2021′s thrilling No Light in Heaven mixtape and its 2023 full-length follow-up Pure Music.
The group began as the high school project of guitarist Isaac Eiger and bassist Fred Nixon. Inspired by bands like Modest Mouse and Pixies, the two friends began shaping their melodic post-punk sound and playing gigs around their hometown of Bozeman, Montana. By 2012, Sioux Falls had self-released an EP and relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they recruited drummer Ben Scott. Once established, the group knocked out another pair of EPs in 2013′s Big Krackel and 2014′s Lights Off for Danger before hooking up with Pittsburgh-based indie Broken World Media. With a new label in place, Sioux Falls spent 2015 wrapping up their debut long-player, Rot Forever, an expansive and edgy double album that saw release in early 2016.
After changing their name to Strange Ranger at the end of the year, the band pared down again to the core duo of Eiger and Nixon and headed in a less aggressive direction, releasing the lusher and more textural bedroom pop album Daymoon in 2017. It marked their first release for the Tiny Engines label, which also handled their 2019 follow-up, Remembering the Rockets. By this point, the group had relocated to Philadelphia and expanded into a quartet with the addition of singer Fiona Woodman and drummer Nathan Tucker. 2021 yielded Strange Ranger’s most ambitious and surprising release yet. Issued as a mixtape rather than an album, No Light in Heaven wound its way through strains of melancholic synth-driven pop, experimental interludes, and numerous other directions. It was picked up by the Fire Talk label and reissued in an expanded edition in October 2022. Sprung from the same sessions that yielded No Light in Heaven, Strange Ranger’s fourth album, 2023′s Pure Music, trekked even deeper into the woods. Recorded in a cabin in upstate New York, the album nearly abandons all vestiges of the band’s previous iterations, occupying a liminal sonic place somewhere between dream pop, shoegaze, and sonic pastiche. ~ Timothy Monger