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Set your intentions with the imperfect mantras of Lazy Scorsese’s 'Inemuri'

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Anthony Oslund carries himself like a spirit, letting his Jesus-length tangle of hair knot with the wind. A gilded ohm sign hangs around his neck, peeking between the buttons of his linen Henley. His shoulders slink backward like he’s been holding a lotus pose for his whole life. But make no mistake, the Lazy Scorsese frontman is no one’s guru.

Since their breakout EP, Grigio, in 2016, Lazy Scorsese have been an enigmatic presence in the Twin Cities music scene. That release was a sweeping psychedelic journey that propelled the band to a finalist spot in the 2017 Are You Local? competition and a gig at the 2018 Basilica Block Party.

Three years later, Oslund and his crew of mystical sojourners are back with their debut LP, Inemuri, and things feel less defined than ever. Gone are the spilling, hallucinogenic epics, replaced by funk-rock breakdowns and straight-up sex grooves. Yet Lazy Scorsese still comb the cosmos for purpose, and Inemuri is the vibration the universe returned them.

“I get a little wary of genre-hopping too much, but it’s natural,” Oslund says. “We still wanna do what we wanna do more than anything, and this is what we felt like doing.”

I Can’t Ignore the Cosmos

“Inemuri” is a Japanese concept that means “sleeping while on duty.” It’s the sign of a hard worker—losing consciousness on the job isn’t lazy, it’s done by someone working beyond their physical capacity. Oslund sees this unfortunate symptom of modern work culture as an apt metaphor for how capitalism distracts us from our true nature.

“We took a little creative liberty and spun that idea into a way of reflecting on Western culture and how we’re sleeping while present in a different way, sleeping to our souls,” Oslund says. “We’re bound by a sense of duty to make money and provide, and we do a lot of things that go against the core of who we are.”

The band captures this feeling on album opener “Radiate Love,” a spacey ’70s-style love-in that charms the listener. “All of life beats simultaneously through time,” Oslund sings, “and I can’t wrap my head all around it, so I don’t.”

If Inemuri has a thesis, it’s that there are no conclusions. Lazy Scorsese embrace an endless, continuous experience of the world, both through their wah pedal spasms and hippie doctrines.

“I’m a big believer that free will and destiny exist simultaneously,” Oslund says. “We’re caught in the middle of that somewhere.”

All I Need Is A Warm Lake and Some Stars

For Oslund, nature is a conduit to the eternal. On “Shakedown Tree,” nature serves as a metaphor for the inevitability of love; on “Blue Planet,” climate change is a spiritual peril.

“I think we need to spend more time nourishing our soul and our connection to nature above our sense of duty to consume,” Oslund says. “It’s ingrained in our culture in a way that’s very negative. A lot of times, it’s not necessary.”

Is this Love or the Acid?

Inemuri ’s greatest benediction comes on “Jay Cooke and the Gods of Nature,” a song written while Oslund was camping with some friends in the riverfront park the title namechecks. Oslund had dropped acid with two women when a lightning storm broke through the trees. The three ran out to the swinging bridge in time to watch the spectacle unfold, slack-jawed.

“Nobody could say a word for like 30 minutes straight,” Oslund recalls, obviously still affected. “We went back to the fire, and we just sat in a hammock until the sun came up.”

With a sound as trippy as Lazy Scorsese’s, it’s no surprise that there’s some mind alteration afoot. But while nature and drugs might help you commune with the universal spirit, they can’t do all the work for you. Oslund admits he arrived at much of his life philosophy while high in his bedroom listening to music, but the secret work of Lazy Scorsese has been to translate the thoughts and emotions of that day into something others can share.

“You have an experience like that, and you have a really difficult time regurgitating it back to someone,” he says. “On some level, we are trying to tap into all that, but it’d be kinda arrogant to say that our music is hitting that.”

Feel the Rhythm, Feel the Rhyme

Inemuri ’s final revelation comes in the form of a quote from 1993 Disney movie Cool Runnings. As penultimate track “In Good Health” kicks off, Oslund quotes the Jamaican bobsled team’s warmup chant: “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme!” It’s a sign of just how far the band has come from the pensive soundscapes of Grigio. Inemuri may be here to rouse your unconscious mind, but it’s going to make sure you have fun too.

Oslund thanks bassist Chris Michaels and keyboardist Tyler Devonald for pushing Lazy Scorsese toward a more approachable, playful sound. Though he was nervous at first, it ended up being a deep relief.

“If we had it their way, we’d be a funk band,” Oslund says. “I’ve been totally down for that; it’s been fun for me to move in that direction more.”

Ultimately, Inemuri is a flight of freedom for Lazy Scorsese—not only from the burden of conclusion but from any deeper meaning whatsoever. Despite its fear and anxiety, “Blue World” is a song you could stomp to at a midnight bonfire. “That Boy’s Gone Mad” is a sing-talk Warren Zevon bit that borrows the time-shifting absurdity of Slaughterhouse-Five. You’d be crazy not to fuck to “Good Health.”

“Music is a gateway to talk about those deeper things we don’t talk about day to day and some deeper soul uncovering, but at the same time, you can get too bogged down with that stuff,” Oslund says. “I do a lot of work to improve myself and get more connected to life, but I’m also trying to have fun and play.”

Lazy Scorsese
With: The Bad Man, Michael
When: 7 p.m. Thurs. May 30
Where: 7th St Entry
Tickets: 18+: $10; more info here