Indie alternative band Nature’s Neighbor released their single “Monday Morning Drive” on March 12. The single is the first release from the group’s upcoming album, Otherside, releasing May 14. Like most songs on Otherside, “Monday Morning Drive” was written remotely via email. It was written during the first wave of COVID-19 and is about feeling grateful for health and the companionship of loved ones. The song features a voicemail exchange between band members Terrill and Brandon where Terrill checked in on Brandon’s family during the pandemic.
With a soft acoustic backing and mellow vocal layerings, “Monday Morning Drive” is a gentle reminder to hold even the most simple privileges tight and never take anything for granted. “While making this album, it really felt like the world was falling apart all around us and I think the songs strongly reflect that feeling,” says Terrill. “We poured all our fear, joy, and reflection into this album.” Band member Mike Walker says Otherside quickly came together when the group just continuously wrote and created new songs. “Monday Morning Drive” reflects the eclectic, but easy listens that fans will find on Otherside.
Nature’s Neighbor was formed in 2010 by Mike Walker, Daniel Lee (You Folk), and Mike Nardone while they completed their studies at Columbia College Chicago and were all living in Lincoln Park under the same roof. In the fall of that year, they began writing and recording songs at home for their debut album, You Me And The People, which took about 13 months to produce before its release in November of 2011. By that time, the group had all moved out of the Lincoln Park house and were living in separate parts of Illinois. This, combined with the ability to use the internet as a meeting ground for their ideas and contributions, made them rethink the notion of Nature’s Neighbor being more of a collective rather than a standard band with fixed members.
Since their debut, they have released at least one album every year with a rotating lineup of musicians, the only constantly recurring members being Walker, Terrill Mast (Murphy Mast), and Seth Engel (Options). Each collection of songs has a different sound and feel due to its unique cast of characters, and the band has placed great importance in their open-door policy as the years have gone by. For example, although Walker is the primary vocalist there have been many others who have contributed their own lyrics and melodies, such as his wife, Cheer Zhao, who sings occasionally in both English and Mandarin. For their 12th release, Otherside, Nature’s Neighbor introduced Benni Perkins (Benni Blue) into the mix as their bassist and featured vocalist. Inclusivity, evolution, and change are the core tenets of this group. They want Nature’s Neighbor to be a vehicle for any of their musician friends to tell their own stories. It constantly keeps things new, interesting, and prevents them from making the same album twice.