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Standout Track: No. 4, “A Death in Ronkonkoma,” a slice of melancholy future-folk. Miguel Lacsamana’s acoustic guitar overcomes a glitchy vocal sample as singer Raul Zahir De Leon sets a none-too-sunny mood: “How sweet those lips taste that I’ll never taste again/Only the sour taste of defeat and of the blood-stained end my friend.” He further bemoans the doomed affair on the adagio chorus: “There’s no sense in lamenting what has to be.” On the heels of a spare piano figure, he finishes his patchwork quilt of human suffering in less than three minutes.
Musical Motivation: Towns maps a mournful, Smog-like geography, but Ronkonkoma, a small Long Island town, is the only place named on the record. “It was a terrible day, gloomy and overcast,” De Leon says of a trip across Long Island Sound. “The ferry was moving at 1 mile an hour.” The slow boat didn’t carry the 28-year-old LeDroit Park resident to Ronkonkoma, but the place represents “the moment that the character realizes that the relationship isn’t going to work.”
People Are Dying to Meet Her: De Leon may have been burned romantically, but he refuses to name names. “I will admit that some elements of myself are in the songs, but not in the sense that I was writing about specific personal experience,” he says. The singer was unaware of an eerie bit of Ronkonkoma history: Some say that the ghost of an Indian girl forbidden to love a white colonist claims the life of one unlucky visitor to Lake Ronkonkoma every year. “There are forces bigger than me at work,” De Leon says.