triton. Sundown in Oaktown
Sundown in Oaktown is the debut album by triton., a musical project by Scott Murphy. With the concept of space being a vital tenant of the record, Murphy’s Hawaiian roots shine brightly throughout while also leaving plenty of room for the darker tones of life in Oakland, California. It is undoubtedly well-balanced and relatable with songs about how it feels to uproot your life in “_tiki_”, trying to stay out of trouble in “_jingletown_” and grappling with homesickness in “all_is_vanity.”
The album spans twelve tracks in just over 40 minutes and manages not to be rushed without dragging. Many of the songs like the opener “_bougainvillea,” sound like they’re being performed by Murphy on a seashore with a guitar in his lap. As he reflects on his new life 2,000 miles from home, he sings “I’ll figure it out/just like I always do” while addressing his shortcomings. The fastest song on Sundown in Oaktown is “orchids” which is written from the standpoint of looking back on life from the inside of a fast-moving BART train. Murphy is transparent about his mental health struggles in many songs and “orchids” does so in a way that warrants forgiveness rather than pity: “I’m sorry my place is a wreck/I just wanted it to match my head/I’m alone again in this bed/staring at the ceiling/thinking back on what you said,” he sings against upbeat keyboards, guitar, and drums.
Having grown up in the Bay Area and gone to college in Oakland myself, I can relate to much of what triton. alludes to throughout the album. Oakland has been at the forefront of artistic and social movements for decades but since it has become one of the most expensive places to live in the US (due to gentrification and inadequate rent control laws), it can often be difficult to make a living through creative means. In a press release, Murphy’s describes the experience of how living in Oakland informed the record clearly as he “saw lines drawn everywhere, neighborhood to neighborhood, rich to poor, and began his new life, trying not to slip between the cracks, and lose himself in a city that will spit you out or swallow you whole. Living paycheck to paycheck, Scott started writing music under the name triton. as a way to make sense of his fractured identity, combining the gentle sounds of his youth with the roar of city traffic, car alarms, and broken windows.”
Sundown in Oaktown was coproduced by Thursday’s Geoff Rickley and features his guest vocals on “alcatraz,” which certainly lends it to be the most Thursday-adjacent track on the record. Other notable contributors include vocals from AJ Perdomo (The Dangerous Summer) on “_haunt” and Aaron Gillespie (Underoath, The Almost) on “all_is_vanity.” Jarrod Alexander (My Chemical Romance, Alkaline Trio, Death By Stereo, The Suicide File) plays drums on “_sangre_azul_” and “orchids” and Tim Payne (Thursday, LS Dunes) plays bass on “_EMBRKDRO_,” “orchids,” and “alcatraz.”
Find triton. on Instagram.
Sundown in Oaktown is out now on all major streaming platforms.