|Winterpills — All My Lovely Goners (February 14, 2012)|
Winterpills — All My Lovely Goners (February 14, 2012)
°¨° Northampton, Massachusetts folky indie rock combo defined by their haunting, Elliott Smith–influenced sound.
Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
Album release: February 14, 2012
Record Label: Signature Sounds
Genre: Indie, Pop, Folk, Rock
01. We Turned Away
02. Amazing Sky
03. Small Bright Doses
04. Rogue Highway
05. Pretty Girls
06. January Rain
07. The Sun Is Alone
10. Dying Star
12. Sunspots (Ruins)
13. Feather Blue
14. A Tree In The Lung (Bonus Track)
°¨° Winterpils are Brian Akey, Dennis Crommett, Dave Hower, Philip Price and Flora Reed.
°¨° Guests: Dave Trenholm (flute, saxophone), Carol Hutter (viola).
°¨° This album was produced by Philip Price and Winterpills.
°¨° Artwork by Lillianna Pereira.
°¨° Brian Akey Bass, Clapping, E–Bow, Group Member, Mandolin
°¨° Dennis Crommett Guitar (Electric), Lap Steel Guitar, Vocals
°¨° David Hower Drums, Percussion
°¨° Carol Hutter Viola
°¨° Jeff Lipton Mastering
°¨° Lillianna Pereira Artwork, Design
°¨° Philip Price Acoustic Slide Guitar, Composer, Design, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Nashville), Omnichord, Organ, Piano, Producer, Sampling, Spanish Guitar, Vocals
°¨° Flora Reed Clapping, Composer, Concertina, Flute, Glockenspiel, Mellotron, Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
°¨° Maria Rice Mastering Assistant
°¨° Dave Trenholm Flute, Saxophone
°¨° Winterpills Producer
°¨° The western Massachusetts band’s fifth release, their fifth on Signature Sounds, stretches well beyond Winterpills’ previous boundaries on thirteen new songs that are at once identifiable, yet broader. All My Lovely Goners embraces the hushed vocal harmonies and graceful chamber–pop sound the group has made its trademark, while pushing the quintet into new sonic realms. Together, singer/songwriter/guitarist Philip Price, singer/keyboardist Flora Reed, guitarist Dennis Crommett, bassist Brian Akey and drummer Dave Hower have essentially redefined the creative spirit of Winterpills.
°¨° It’s the album Winterpills has been working toward from the start. From the group’s origins one cold winter in 2004 as a song circle for heartache, the band has blossomed, releasing three full–length albums — a self–titled effort in 2005, The Light Divides in 2007 and Central Chambers in 2008 — and the 2010 EP Tuxedo of Ashes, which The New York Times praised for “elegant arrangements” of “songs that stay haunted.”
°¨° There are haunted songs on All My Lovely Goners, too, but in reflecting on the band’s previous work, Price felt that Winterpills had reached a watershed, and a rediscovery of sorts was needed.
°¨° Much of that rediscovery was philosophical: “There was a certain wordless pledge by the band to not be weighted down by the past,” says Price. That feeling played a vital role on the group’s first album and resurfaced on All My Lovely Goners as the freedom to take bigger chances, to do something un–self–consciously different. It manifests in the chiming guitars and shimmering solo on “Amazing Sky,” and the mournful meditation “The Sun Is Alone,” a last-minute addition to the album and one of two songs to feature lead vocals from Reed. (She learned the tune in 40 minutes and nailed her vocal in two takes). It’s there in the chugging power–pop chords and soaring vocal harmonies of “Rogue Highway,” and the noisy departure “January Rain,” which pairs dissonant bursts of guitar with busy, clattering drums, thick choral vocals and acoustic guitars shoved into distortion.
°¨° “I really feel like whether we knew it or not, we were all pushing ourselves here to make something exciting, emotional, fresh and rocking,” says Crommett, who helped shape the sound of All My Lovely Goners with his most adventurous guitar work yet — including playing lap steel for the first time on a Winterpills LP.
°¨° There was a performance component to the band’s rediscovery, too, as the musicians shed some of the loops and effects that had become part of the process on more recent albums, emphasizing instead the sound of five people making music together.
°¨° “We wanted this album to be more live–instrument–based, rather than effects–based,” Reed says. “The focus is on capturing our live playing.”
°¨° Written over the past two years and recorded at the Boomerang Ranch (Price and Reed’s project studio in Hadley, Mass.), Price says, “The songs were written slowly, arranged slowly, braised slowly in their own intentions, as mysterious as those were.” He continues, “the songs took shape around the idea that we are defined in many ways by the multiple wars we’ve all endured, the broken hearts, traumas and tragedies that shape our characters, even as they may recede farther into the past. As they fade from the front of our minds, they are ever–present reminders of how we became who we are.”
°¨° “From the opening salvo of the album, where a benediction and a warning is given from an open grave, to the closing shuffling love song to an elusive and cruel muse, every song is about the tenuous threads that hold us to the split second dream of life,” Price says. “It’s easy to reach into a recent death and find the vital song. It’s harder to live with it for many years and find another song. Those are the hard-earned ones.” And the album is full of them.
°¨° To all the lovely goners — the people we’ve loved, the people we miss, the people, Price says, “who stand in our backyard and are always looking through our windows” — this one’s for you.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett; Score: ***½
°¨° Pitched somewhere between shoegaze–informed atmosphere, especially in how Kevin Shields appreciated the use of reverb and echo even at the quietest moments, and sweet early–‘70s folk–rock harmonies, the latter as refracted through the succeeding generations that have resulted in the CSNY–styled revivals of the 21st century, Winterpills’ All My Lovely Goners is a rich and often quite enjoyable listen. “Amazing Sky” could almost be a sweet recollection of a ramble on a summer’s day, were it not for the lyrics talking about essentially laying someone or something to its eternal rest. A song like “Rogue Highway,” mixing both a classic Motown stomp and a bit of ‘80s R.E.M. to slip below the flowing singing, works in context just as well as the vocals and acoustic guitar–based “The Sun Is Alone,” a truly lovely ballad that might be the album’s overall highlight amid its generally engaging mix. The opening signal–sound strings on “Fleur–de–Luce” come close for a suddenly gripping moment, with the song — as with “The Sun Is Alone,” sung by Flora Reed in the lead — being an atmospheric, elegant meditation that feels out of time, just enough. Some sentiments may be a little too heavy–handed (thus “Pretty Girls,” which completes the title line “...make me sad”), but aren’t complete clunkers either. And as long as the band continues to produce such quiet stunners as “January Rain,” a mixture of understated harmonizing, steadily rougher drumming, flute and string parts sliding in and out of the flow, and sudden exultant breaks where everything swirls upward into a burst, everything will continue to be just fine.
|Winterpills — All My Lovely Goners (February 14, 2012)|