Wesley Jensen isn’t originally from North Texas, but he got here as fast as he could. And he didn’t waste any time with putting new music out this year, either.
It's expensive just to exist in California, so Jensen moved to Texas. He wanted to find a music town that could serve as a hub to other cities, so he and his wife settled on Dallas. And for the past two and a half years, the singer/songwriter/producer and his band, Wesley Jensen and The Penny Arcade, have been all over Texas, racking up a supportive following along the way.
From Denton to Dallas and down south — by Southwest, to be specific — the California native has already made his mark on the Texas music scene. But up until recently, just one thing was missing: access to his music.
That finally changed this January when he released Something Old, his first EP in almost five years, and the first of a four-part series, with each new EP being released quarterly throughout the year.
“This year has been so fun to finally say, 'Let’s put out music,’ because that’s the one thing everyone’s been on me about forever,” Jensen says.
What was supposed to be an album titled Memos quickly became deconstructed for a fresh, seasonal concept that Jensen found himself unable to abandon.
Although part one’s title is quite literal (Something Old was originally intended to be released as part of the full-length album) and long overdue, Jensen knew it wasn’t enough to keep listeners satiated after spending so much time performing over the last couple of years.
In May, Jensen followed up with part two, Something New, a collection of songs representing his new sound, and the only of his four EPs that was recorded in Texas.
“It’s rock, it’s indie, it’s pop, but I like to think it’s fairly easy listening,” Jensen says.
But when it came to part three, Jensen definitely didn’t “borrow” anything on Something Else, released July 27.
On his third installment, which Jensen describes as “more rock ‘n' roll” than any of the other EPs, each track is reminiscent of Beach House with shades of The Black Keys. But much like Something Old, part three has been in the works for quite some time.
“I had all of this content that was just kind of burning a hole in my heart,” Jensen says. “So I decided, ‘What if we just put it all out this year?’’’
Just as he was ready to celebrate his latest release, however, Jensen received unsettling news — his hometown of Redding, California, was on fire. Having damaged more than 100,000 acres, the Carr Fire has driven many Northern Californians to evacuation — including Jensen’s friends and family.
“I didn’t even mention that we had released new music [that day] at all … because I was kind of in a weird spot,” he says. “It was like, it feels weird to celebrate anything. I was feeling helpless.”
It wasn’t long before that helplessness wore off, however.
Jensen subsequently decided to donate all the money made from his band’s newest EP release show to wildfire relief efforts in California, with all profits being made on his music through Monday, Aug. 6, being donated as well.
“I thought, ‘How can I turn this into something good?’” he says. “So hopefully it will help even just a little bit.”
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As he looks ahead, Jensen is optimistic for what the fourth and final phase of his series, Something Blue, has to offer the listeners who have followed him on his seasonal journey. In fact, he says the best is yet to come.
Jensen isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either, as he’s already at work on his next project slated for 2019.
“This music has [existed] for a while, and I’m ready to commit to putting [it] out,” he says. “I’ve been like a groom that’s been waiting forever and had cold feet, but I finally decided to go for it.”
Something Old, Something New and Something Else can all be heard at wesleyjensen.bandcamp.com.