Bowery Boston presents
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*** Quilt ***
Plaza is the third album by Quilt; a name implying a meeting place, a crossroads, a coming together. In the space of ten songs, Plaza clarifies Quilt’s musical stance of a congregation, mixing folk, pop-psych, and wanderlust into a common ground where each form takes on the characteristics of one another to create something wholly satisfying, styles and sentiments hand in hand, the purest and sharpest distillation of Quilt’s group aesthetic to date.
Plaza came together through the happy collisions of friends, family, and well-wishers, individuals who came to realize that home for one is escape for another. Quilt had made its home on the road for the better part of 2014, coming to rest in Atlanta for three weeks by a collaborator of sorts. A bizarre cosmic boomerang had led them here: while on tour in Oregon, the band randomly met a man named Matt Arnett who turned out to be responsible, along with his father, for the “Quilts of Gee’s Bend” traveling art exhibition from which many of the quilts were sourced as visual material for Quilt’s first record in 2011. The serendipitous meeting led the group to stay in touch with Arnett, who in turn invited the group to start demoing and constructing new material at his Grocery On Home; the historic building near Atlanta’s Grant Park district in which Arnett hangs his hat.
*** Widowspeak ***
Widowspeak has grown up in a lot of ways.The band’s third album, All Yours, is one that could only come from Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas: a honed and elegant interweaving of dream-pop and slowcore rock and roll, easygoing melodies and dusty, snaking guitars. It’s also their finest release to date: ten beautiful songs that are refreshingly straightforward yet built from the same well-chosen and deftly-used tools the band has always worked with. All Yours is ambitious without feeling labored-over, anchored in the strengths of Widowspeak’s consistent influences. There are those familiar Morricone-come-Verlaine guitar passages, moody and country-tinged instrumentation, watery tremolo, velvety stacked vocals. You can hear Molly’s affection for The Cranberries and The Sundays in the wavering melodies of “Dead Love” or “Girls”, and Rob’s adoration of George Harrison and Robbie Robertson in his brilliantly economical guitar playing. The result is an aesthetically diverse and profoundly nostalgic sound; indebted to past eras without feeling dated. Since they came on the scene five years ago, the band has seen many permanent changes: new lineups, new environments. Instead of bringing additional permanent members into the fold after the departure of its founding drummer, the band was whittled down to a duo, a lineup that has remained constant since 2012. After releasing a second LP, Almanac, and The Swamps EP (both in 2013), Molly and Rob left Brooklyn for the (quite literally) greener pastures of the Catskills/Hudson Valley region. They found a house they could play music in. They got a dog. And they took their damn time making All Yours. For one, the conceptual process of writing Almanac and The Swamps had been creatively draining. They focused on other things: Molly went back to school; Rob took a job at a Catskills hotel. They wrote leisurely, from shared voice memos and late night jams in the living room. As a result of writing down what came naturally, without any overarching vision, the lyrics on All Yours are largely unadorned, the songs connected only by the forgivingly vague theme of “moving on”. Appropriately, the band chose to work again with Jarvis Taveniere, who produced their self-titled debut in 2011. They also enlisted him and drummer Aaron Neveu (both of whom play in Woods) as the studio rhythm section. The presence of Taveniere and Neveu contributes a groove that wasn’t there previously, and there’s a few other new things: the swell of strings at critical moments, and for the first time, voices beyond Molly’s own. We finally get to hear Rob sing in the earnestly laid-back “Borrowed World.” Members of psych outfit Quilt contribute harmonies and keys throughout the record, most notably in “My Baby’s Gonna Carry On”, and “Cosmically Aligned”. Perhaps All Yours is so refreshing because it’s a return to form. It’s a record that feels as effortlessly unplanned as their debut, that serves to capture a moment rather than create one.
*** Doug Tuttle ***
New Hampshire-native Doug Tuttle (ex-MMOSS) presents the follow-up to his 2013 solo debut self-titled album with It Calls On Me.
Eschewing the jittery, love-lorn anxiety of his first solo outing, It Calls On Me presents a decidedly more dreamy journey through softer, sun-burnt landscapes, while still showcasing Tuttle’s trademark masterful guitar-work and his very own brand of impeccably-crafted, fractured psychedelic pop.
Written in 2014-2015 in Somerville, MA, It Calls On Me hints at the skewed, wide-eyed ‘60s folk-pop of Lazy Smoke or Ithaca’s, mysterious, fulgent Brit-folk rock, and the zoned ‘70s soft-rock of 10cc and Bread, neatly winding in and out through Tuttle’s panoply of hallucinatory effects, buzzes, and unshakably haunting harmonics to create a richly-textured album of sonic jewels.
Opener “A Place for You” is a rumpled, upbeat, almost solely acoustic jam, featuring Tuttle’s winding, sinewy guitar rambles and vocals like well-worn corduroy.
Title-track “It Calls On Me” is a tightly-wound propulsive rocker, recalling his debut’s slightly unhinged urgency with a pliant, rubbery, Richard Thompson-esque guitar solo that branches out like plant-growth.
“Make Good Time” is a gorgeous, intimately-crafted gem that gently shimmers with Byrdsian 12-string against pastoral vocal harmonies and hazy, mellotron strings and flute.
Other key tracks include “Painted Eye,” an epic, disorienting stunner that recalls the blurry stupor of ‘70s West Coast soft rock with a guitar solo needling amidst queasy, bent strings, and “Falling to Believe,” a catchy ear-worm that pairs Tuttle’s soft, hushed vocals with some seriously heat-blistered guitar-work.
Most reminiscent of his most trance-inducing work with MMOSS, “On Your Way” is an eerie, stately, almost trad-folk dirge that carries all the pageantry of Fairport Convention, backed by brittle, Fables of the Reconstruction-era R.E.M. guitar jangle amongst a tightly-woven tapestry of voices.
It Calls On Me shows Tuttle relaxing into his role as a memorable, compelling songwriter, eager to showcase his storehouse of harmonies and dissonances, and delighting in the more fragile and intimate aspects of frayed-at-the-edges song-creation. As a result, this record feels more like a blissful letting go rather than a giving in, allowing the flashing sunlight to create patterns across your closed eyelids as you drive a winding road through a forest of trees.
RIYL: Kurt Vile, Solar Motel Band, Steve Gunn, Gun Outfit, Gene Clark, Byrds, Fairport Convention