The 2nd Way is the professional name of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist producer, Kevin Binder. The Chicago-based musician has been making music since he was a child. However, it was not until he found himself locked down alone with the rest of the world in 2020 that he decided to release his work to the public. Recorded in the seclusion of his grandparents’ emptied Cape Cod home, The 2nd Way’s self-titled debut album is an introspective exploration of life, death and love.
Through the course of twelve songs, Binder fluidly moves through musical genres and emotional states of mind. He sets the scene in the song “2020 Sunrise,” with the opening line, “I spent a year in the dark, I used my ears to find my way.” Right away we connect with the confusion and loss. As the song’s dramatic ambient synth bed builds to an emotional wall of psychedelic sound, the singer ruminates on love and rebirth.
As the record progresses Kevin dives deeply into his own psyche to understand how this disaster of a year has affected us. Although his lyrics focus on his own life experiences and feelings, the details are secondary to the universality of the experience. Whether he is looking back at the past to see how things have changed (“Nostalgia”), or acknowledging the love around him to appreciate the present (“We’re in Love,” “Old Love”), the impetus for his meditations is the life altering reality within which we all still exist. For better or worse, this year has made all of humanity take inventory of what it means to be alive.
The 2nd Way explores the impermanence of life, on tracks like “We’re Gonna Die,” “Never Get Old” and “The Big Goodbye.” The songs wax philosophic, weaving together Zen contentment with nihilistic defeat. Ultimately the record offers no answers, because there are none. Binder’s observations ring true specifically because they are conflicted. This is how we feel in 2020, and we look to each other for something on which to hold. For instance, on the Dark-Pop track “With Your Ghost in Me” he sings, “When everything is fucked, I listen to you laughing. I hear God talk to me, promise everything is fine.”
Musically, The 2nd Way shifts genres at will to fit the mood and message of each song. From Electro Alt-Pop to Pink Floyd-style psychedelia, Binder paints from a broad musical palette. Many of the songs on the record shift dramatically in both style and mood as they progress. The mostly instrumental “Plague” builds from a dark Trip-hop groove to an Alan Parsons-esque synthwave piece. The epic 10:44 “Knife” rolls through multiple musical settings, from dark downtempo beginnings to a powerful crescendo. The record ends on the quiet Lo-fi Indie-Pop reimaging of “2020 Reprise.”
Although technically a debut album, The 2nd Way is clearly the work of a seasoned musician. It is emotionally intelligent, lyrically philosophical and musically rich and nuanced. Check out “Nostalgia” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Click the links below to connect with Kevin Binder and The 2nd Way. When asked what his plans for the future were, Binder answered, “to push the boulder up the mountain until my arms give out.” Get on his socials and give him a hand in his sisyphean endeavor.