I've been sleeping on The Washover Fans for a long time now, ignoring their charming emails and their catchy posters (usually just huge font renditions of their name which work because these guys have excellent taste in fonts), and missing all their shows in Seattle. Well, that shit stops NOW. Their new album, Live at Empty Sea (drops tomorrow!), is absolutely stunning, all the more so for being a live album that sounds like it was made in an expensive studio. This isn't easy to pull off, in fact most live albums are hampered both by performances noticeably rougher than a polished studio take w/edits, and sub-par sound and mixing. It's not easy to make a live album, believe me, I know. Huge kudos goes here to Empty Sea Studios, where the live recording was made. We've been writing about them a lot recently, but clearly with good reason.
On Live at Empty Sea Studios, The Washover Fans revel in the simple beauty of acoustic harmonies. Their voices mesh effortlessly, and their instruments are tight accompanists to the songs (with some particularly delicious mandolin and steel guitar lines), which have quite catchy melodies. It's folk music done right; nothing fancy, but "tous qu'il faut" as the French say (which means "everything you'd need"). The songs are deceptively simple odes to love and love lost, nothing necessarily new here, but this is a large cut above the many singer-songwriter CDs I've been listening to recently. Really, this kind of folk music comes down to the lyrics and the deftness of the music, and here's where The Washover Fans really stick out. Their words are subtle, thoughtful, and bring new light to old ideas. They're bringing a much needed creativity to folk music, and when they drop covers on the new album (like Patti Griffin's "Rain", or "These Days" from Jackson Browne), they're chosen with care and given a sweet, sorrowful sound.
The Washover Fans: The Next One
So, March 24 is their CD Release Party at Columbia City Theater. We've raved about this venue plenty of times on the Hearth Music blog, so suffice it to say that we've loved every show we've seen at that Theater.
Also appearing with The Washover Fans will be The Loom, an excellent buzz-worthy indie-roots band based out of New York. They first came to our attention via Crossbill Records, a Davis, CA-based record label led by Michael Leahy, an amazing tastemaker whose work has been a continual inspiration to us. Labelmates for the Loom include Matt Bauer and Dana Falconberry.
The Loom's new album, Teeth, is a great bit of chamber-folk, showcasing the larger arrangements of the band, and their dark vision of backwoods Americana. There are some very special moments on their album, like the heart-breaking trumpet line that leads the opening track "With Legs", or the haunting, eerie orchestration of my favorite cut on the album, "For the hooves that gallop, and the heels that march" They're exactly the kind of band you want to see live; it would be fun to see how all the musicians in the band interact and their ambitious group arrangements are gonna be a feat of choreography to pull off.
The Loom: With Legs
NOTE: Check out The Loom's Daytrotter Session and support one of our favorite online music sources!