Altamont band The Parlor shines a light on the shadows in new album

The Enterprise — Mike Koff 

Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans, of the husband-and-wife band The Parlor, chat and play a little music in the room of their Maple Avenue home that gave the band its name.

ALTAMONT — About halfway through my interview with Jen O’Connor and Eric Krans — the Altamont couple who are the constituents of indie-rock band The Parlor — Krans asked me if I was familiar with the fundamentals of Jungian psychology. 

“Uh, yeah,” I said, politely, instinctively, and dishonestly. Maybe it’s in the back of my mind somewhere. 

Big mistake.

Krans was aiming to answer my question of what their new album, “You Are Love and I Am You,” is all about, and he wanted permission to pick up the pace of the conversation, which I gave him as I fumbled with my figurative seatbelt. 

“If you read Jung, all of the stuff that comes out of that world is almost like a new form of mythology,” he said. “It’s a way of thinking about and describing the subjective experience, and one of the things he talks about is the different parts that make up the self — one of them being a persona, which is a projection we put of ourselves out into the world, and what other people put onto us.” 

Whereas The Parlor’s 2018 record “Kiku” was built on the experiences of loss and tragedy, their new album is about what’s on the other side of that experience — a place the couple reached after spending the pandemic finding their shadows and bringing them back to the surface. 

This persona, Krans explained, is our curated self that we separate from what Jung called our shadow self, which is made up of all the traits and experiences that we hide from others, and, usually, ourselves. 

“We really woke up to how much projection we had about ourselves and about each other, and how much of our lives were sort of being directed by the projections of our parents, our culture, et cetera …,” Krans said. “We were also reading a lot of philosophy — various Eastern religions and philosophies — and it started to make sense to us that they’re all kind of talking about …. this sort of waking up.” 

This is what Krans and O’Connor do, it seems. Remarkably attuned to the spiritual and creative value of what’s around them, they absorb everything, quickly folding together the like parts of different concepts and seeing what sparks when the other bits collide — the heuristic of the mystics, as Brian Eno would say

The historic Maple Avenue home where they recorded their album, known as the Kirk Estate and covered by The Enterprise before, is designed around this process of curation-as-creation (or, as they describe it, “slow design,” which prioritizes sustainability through refurbishing and repurposing) and it informs their music-making just the same. 

John Mayer once attributed the magic of some great art to the ability of an artist to “write enough love letters [to their influences] small enough, on enough small sheets of paper, and put them in a leaf blower …. [to] grind the influences into a fine enough dust that you can make a new paste out of it.”  

With “You Are Love…,”  the couple has collected and condensed so much material so widely that it’s hard not to imagine it as some kind of Big Bang, each song a galaxy of swirling indie stardust. 

There are the swells and squalls of Beach House, the cosmic mysticism of Julee Cruise, the trippy bedroom lo-fi of early Animal Collective, the toasted guitars and sun-dried vocals of The Growlers. The couple themselves cite The Mamas and The Papas, Tame Impala, Cocteau Twins, Grimes, George Harrison, and many more.

“We really just love the stuff that we love,” Krans said. “The artists that we fall in love with for whatever reason, the music that I grew up on and Jen grew up on, we can’t get enough of them, and we want to mimic some of the stuff that they do.”

There’s a risk, obviously, of being pastiche when artists borrow heavily, but The Parlor wields each lifted technique and characteristic so expertly that you forget there’s a risk to it at all. This ability to understand each element and inhabit them, like a good actor does a part, allows for surprising, cool moments. 

The song Remember How, for instance, combines a sort of hard-rock, wind-tunnel drive with a guitar riff that, at times, becomes atonal and shoegaze-y.

That song started as an acoustic folk song, Krans said, as many of the songs had. But then he “sat down with the drum kit and was inspired by Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles, that driving beat on the last song of “Revolver.” I thought that would be cool,” Krans said. “As soon as I did that, I was like, this song could be really electrified.’”

From there, they added “that Velvet Underground style, repetitive, crunched-out guitar sounds noodling all over, and then at that point I was like, well, what would happen if we made this a techno-filled song … We just tried mixing and matching and seeing to try to figure out which ones would work, and by the end, you start peeling back to see where it all fits together.” 

And for all the borrowing and mixing and matching that makes up their music, “We can never get our own fingerprints out of it,” Krans said. “We used to be embarrassed by some of the stuff we were doing and that we couldn’t make it sound some way or another. Now we realize that’s what art is.”

One thing that sounds out about the record is the production, which is full and immersive. 

“We prefer that kind of like, Phil Spector Wall of Sound, crunched and distorted reverb,” O’Connor said. 

It’s in this area that their recording space — their actual parlor — plays an important role. 

“We’ve thought about going to other studios before and when we do that it sort of feels like there’s a band member missing,” O’Connor said. “There’s just a sound to the parlor that we really like about our music.”


The Parlor will be celebrating the release of its album at Indian Ladder Farms on May 21, from noon until 5 p.m., an event — free and open to the public — that incidentally serves as the soft opening of the property’s new beer garden. 

“We’re mostly just hanging out for the afternoon,” Eric Krans said of what to expect. “We’ve got our friends from a band called Rover — they like to cover the Grateful Dead and they have a bunch of original songs that are pretty much in that vein as well — they’re playing a couple sets with us. And then Jen and I are going to play together as a duo. And then I’ve got friends from high school I used to play with when I was 18 years old … and they’re going to be our backing band.”

Jen O’Connor said they’re excited to be part of the reveal of Indian Ladder Farms’ new space, which she called “beautiful.” 

“We’re so fortunate to have Indian Ladder Farms so close to us,” she said, “We love being out there … We’re excited to be able to invite the village out.”

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