A Portland based band - always a wonderful way to start things. It's my experience that musically speaking, only good, wonderful things come out of my favorite North-Western city.
In this case, we get a band that blends "mellow folk and West Coast Indie pop." They spent three months in a warehouse in Astoria (... we filmed part of a movie near there...) recording demos, and did a bike tour from Vancouver to San Francisco, playing shows and selling EPs. That was the original two members, Israel Nebeker (vocals/guitar) and Ryan Dobrowski (dums). Eventually, after their debut with 3 Round and a Sound, they added four more members, giving us the group and sound we'll be checking out today.
"Half Moon" immediately starts with a solemn, but really nice sound. The strings in the backing are really very pretty, despite them being relatively low. Oh... my... I've heard this band before. God, I love those realizations. "Hold high, have faith, and reason... that wind is calling my name - I won't wait, or I'll never get on." Okay, okay world, I get it. Sorry - off the personal note... Some really beauty in this song, both lyrically and musically. Hopefully this won't be one of those times that the best is given at the start. I'll try no to get my hopes up, but yay for a good start!
A slightly more beach feel with a simple beat being kept is up for "Always." There's some sort of darkness to it that I can't shake. It's not a bad song by any means, but there's some reason it's refusing to sit well with me. It's almost relaxing in the melodies chosen, which is nice I suppose.
"Keep You Right" picks up an anticipatory beat at the start, which is always an interesting sign for a song. I don't know if this is a love song, but my heart claims it as one, so bear with me. The hopeless romantic in me sees something sweet here. I think I've got it... ever been in love and tried so hard to make it happen, but run out of options eventually? This is your song. Or at least it's mine in this sentiment. While we're here, and trying desperately not to over-think (psh, yeah, okay), let's briefly say that these harmonies are wonderful. Ah, the song ended. Luckily, there's a video from the Doug Fir (<3) MusicfestNW from 2011!
"The Colored Night" slows it down a little bit more, as a night song might tend to do (it usually goes in one direction or another). I'm having trouble really grasping onto much meaning on this one, though I know it's there - the vocal tone sings that clearly enough. There might be something about memories, and I'm catching some pretty nice metaphors on love and whatnot. It's just not hitting home to the heart hard enough to leave a big impression. I mean, that happens sometimes.
For a Portland band, this sure is a California coast beat in "I Know." I think I've mentioned before that it rarely works to have harmonies going during verses and this is one of those times when... it still doesn't really work. Verses just hold so much of the meaning of the song, and when you can't totally hear the words (which is what happens when you add voices), you loose what you're supposed to get from it.
"White Apple" has a very sweet guitar strum, all alone, and finally just one voice. The harmonies come in for emphasis later, at just the right moments. There's also possibly a ukelele in there, and a low trumpet sound comes by to add to the longing notion of the number. I missed about the last minute, just sort of zoning out to the music, but that's a good thing.
A folk-ish tune gets going with "Just One." Again, too many vocals on the harmonies, but at least that sort of matches better with the music this time. The line on life, "I can't believe we get just one," kind of irks me a little, to be honest. That goes totally against the notion of living life to the fullest, and I hate going against that notion. Come on - why else would you take chances? Anywhos, here's the track done in Denver at Uneven Studio for Mile Marker:
In the final, close to six-minute-long, track, "New York," we start with a very interesting string section, crying out in low tones with some of the most heart-breaking, beautiful strains I've ever heard. The song itself has a very sad tone. I'm not catching every line and word, but there's something entrancing about the song, especially when you live here as an early 20-something. It's thought provoking in that way that you want to relate to every line, and then somehow convince yourself that you obviously do. "Don't keep me like you have me. Don't kiss me like you don't. I got wise, and I got old, and not once did I fold."
Added to my Playlist:
- "Half Moon"
- "Keep You Right"
- "We Are the Tide"
- "White Apple"
- "New York"
What a great album. I mean, I'm not going to lie, the sound is not altogether unique, but it is a part of the generally good current thought-provoking music that I feel like we have to really search for these days. Luckily, Bonnaroo seems to feature these kinds of bands this year, so I'm running into a lot of it. I hope someone out there reading this gets it too - I can't be the only person feeling words and music more than just hearing it, right?