Homeschool Sounds Happier Than Ever in "The Strangest Thing" [Premiere]
The well known trope of knowing a musician through their work is always precarious, but occasionally fruitful when it proves earnestly true; a deep appreciation hugs you as you think to yourself, "they sound happy." And, of course, good art being what it is, happiness is not a bouncing child free from conscious criticism, but a creative mind struggling, persevering and seeking, never left idle by what doesn't happen. For Tom D'Agustino, who had long been in a band (Active Bird Community) he was happily unhappy in, the pandemic afforded him an opportunity to pivot to a project more melodic, prettier in texture and "less screamy." The result is Homeschool, the song is "The Strangest Thing," and the EP is Homeschool: Book II.
To those privileged to have been in bands with your best friends, it doesn't always seem that their ending is an opportunity. Despite an era ending, D'Agustino allowed the wash of change to benefit him both personally, and as this introspective, melodic gem of an EP attests, creatively as well. As many of us were forced to do, Tom took the chapter-ending nature of the pandemic to focus on processing his past traumas, gaining perspective, and allowing mental health to come to the forefront.
Describing the change found in the creative pivot, D'Agustino shares, "I used to think music showed me what I wanted. Success, validation, streams, likes, people writing flattering articles about me. All of that just seems so unimportant to me now. Music has shown me what I don't want, not just in the industry but in my life... I think Homeschool has given me so much permission to exist fluidly and outside of the confines that I have imposed upon myself for most of my life."
On "The Strangest Thing," and its video accompaniment, the blossoming of optimism and the freedom of exploration is immediate. D'Agustino confidently sings about the past and catharsis, not with an angst meant to exhaust the source of its energy but with a melodic pathing very much about having a song serve as a companion on a new journey. Instead of "throttling it with my songwriting" as he'd done previously, the therapeutic nature of his new temperament took the burden off song constrictions, and the results are palpable, a gifted writer getting out of his own way.
The variety of the singles on HomeSchool Book: II further demonstrate that newfound happiness, whether that be found in a beautiful duet with Annie Blackman on "One That Got Away" or a chunky guitar driven post-ironic humor romp on "Wino." Range and depth abound, as does a voracious sense of purpose, a fertile milieu for an artist with much growing ahead of him. That makes this EP a must-listen for those recovering from screaming into mirrors, showers, and cars, hoping to quell the quiet. If you capture music as a friend and treat it as such, then trust you've made a new best friend in Homeschool. And, to those who've been on the ride a little longer, you'll smile knowing "they sound happy."
Watch the "The Strangest Thing" video below: