My friend fancies himself the next Justin Vernon. Maybe that’s a stretch, but what’s a self-induced, month(s) long hiatus to a remote outpost in the Midwest to record an album supposed to sound like (other than revolting from a present existence of nine to five deadline drudgery)? OK, maybe the impetus behind woodland musical retreat differs between Vernon and my friend, but from what I can gather, the goal is (roughly) the same.

Vernon’s accomplishments (BON IVER) aside, my friend’s remote farmhouse studio is located in southern Ohio (Vernon, on the other hand, opting for a Wisconsin cabin). Conveniently, the same locale where my friend now toils in majors and minors also gave rise to the band The Orphan, The Poet. While I am considerably less musically inclined than my friend, our relative interest in sharing and discovering music lead him to email me the video (see below) to TOTP’s latest video for “Invincible.”

TOTP admit they have never been a part of much of a music “scene,” developing “on a musical island.” Visions of Tom Hanks in Cast Away aside, TOTP don’t lack for influence. In fact, and in full disclosure, my friend taught TOTP’s guitarist musical licks from Metallica during college vacations. So, at a minimum, I’m confident that they’ve encountered some modicum of musical influence.

The message my friend sent along with TOTP’s video was simply, “They could be the next ‘Copeland’.” Vocally, I agree that Copeland’s “In Motion” or Mae’s “Destination Beautiful” are adequate comparisons. TOTP’s lead singer, David Eselgroth, has a maturity in his voice necessary to move the listener along emotionally without having to scream to express regret or remembrance. This is especially true on “Invincible” as his talkative and melodic tonality provides a necessary maturity benefiting “Invincible” along with a drawn out phrasing that underscores the lead singer’s anguish.

If the common thread between Bon Iver’s Vernon, my friend, and TOTP is that they claim relative geographic obscurity for their inspiration, then I’d say that the latter two are in great company. Here’s to hoping, however, that each make it off of their respective musical islands and towards some modicum of “achievement.” You can see TOTP in concert if you are lucky enough to live in or are just passing through the Midwest in the next couple of months. My hope, for my friend and TOTP, is that they reach great potentials outside of the Midwest. I mean, even Vernon got out of the Midwest to record some music with Kanye West in Hawaii.

You can check out TOTP on their MySpace and PureVolume pages. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, TOTP even has a version of “O Christmas Tree” on their PureVolume page. As refreshing as it is to see a new take on an old holiday favorite, after listening to all the tracks you’ll realize it won’t be “O Christmas Tree” that earns The Orphan, The Poet notoriety going forward.

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