Clothed by the Dark

S.J. Armstrong - Clothed by the Dark

Release 2023/11/10
S.J. Armstrong's second album "Clothed by the Dark" is a journey through the unexpected. By replacing traditional elements with waves of cinematic layering and massive vocal arrays, this album presents a hyper-realistic take on a rock record and pushes the genre into a territory that was previously unexplored. This is accomplished without the digital tricks common to most modern music, and the
album does not use any software instruments or vocal tuning. Atop the unique sonic landscape sits lyrics that wander between storytelling, nostalgia, character description, and poetic abstraction.

Originally from San Diego, S.J. Armstrong is a 28-year-old musician currently based in the Seattle area. He began playing music in 1998 after receiving a Yamaha keyboard for Christmas. Several years later, Armstrong picked up the guitar and started writing songs. Along the way, he taught himself to play many other instruments. In 2013, S.J. moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at playing music professionally. He put together a singer-songwriter act and took the stage name "The Mysterious Mr. Shoe," where he played original folk songs and performed magic tricks. After several years of playing around the Los Angeles area, Armstrong dropped the stage name and began working to develop a unique sound for recorded music.
Interest in some home-recorded demos at the end of 2017, which included acoustic folk songs with large stacked vocal arrays and layered organs, lead to the planning of an EP record. In July of 2018, Armstrong started recording at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. In May of 2019, he self-released released a vinyl-only EP titled "Well-Traveled." The record generated some more interest in the underground music scene, and Armstrong continued to finish it into a full album.
The album, titled "The Narrow Coast," was completed in February of 2020, and originally planned for release in the summer of that year. However, the pandemic caused the record to be canceled. At that time, it was still unclear how long the restrictions would last, and Armstrong went out to Tennessee, whose studios largely remained open during the lockdowns, to work on some more recording to fill the time. These recordings later formed the basis for the Clothed by the Dark album. In 2021, Armstrong relocated to the Seattle area while working some jobs in broadcast to fill the gaps. In 2022, he moved outside the city and built a small studio to continue recording in a home-based setting.
By that time, and as the pandemic-era restrictions began to ease, interest in The Narrow Coast had completely dried up. At the end of 2022 S.J. decided to self-release the album. Though it did not make a large impact from a commercial standpoint, The Narrow Coast was generally well received by those who listened to it and generated a fair amount of airplay on American college radio stations.
This year, Armstrong finished the Clothed by the Dark album. After three successful singles, it is scheduled for release in November 2023. This album has its roots in the same basic sound of the previous album but dials in the sonic elements and feelings of the individual songs. Lyrically, Clothed by the Dark bounces between themes of storytelling, nostalgia, character description, and poetic abstraction.
Currently Armstrong is in the initial planning stages for making a third album, which will take his sound in a completely new direction. He is also working on putting together a new live act to play some shows in the summer of 2024.


01Silver Days
02Designing a Spacecraft
03One of these Nights
04Barber's Road
05Clothed by the Dark
06Sunday Girls
07Summer Sunshine
08About Your Soul
09Divided Days
10Might as Well