Monday, April 13, 2009

Husband & Wife - 4 / 18 - The Belmont

Bloomington, IN quartet Husband & Wife have been accused of "being sincere, both musically and lyrically. "Which," said guitarist/singer Mike Adams, "is always a very flattering compliment. Musically and otherwise, all four of us are coming from very different places, but I think we're all pleased any time that people feel like our records are sincere. We're pretty simple, hardworking dudes, so the last thing we want to do is put out a record that seems contrived, or that we're trying to be something we're not. Mostly, we just try to get our heads right and let the spirit lead."

Those warm reverberattions winding over waltzing chimes and pensive pianos and a steady heartbeat - its flushed with familiarity but doesn't beat the nostalgia horse - when the guitars start whirling up over a rolling drum beat on "Red Cross River" it recalls the downright addictive inflections of the glorious and slightly-acerbic post-college rock valley of the late 90's, or that cutting mid-range vocals "call it pressure, I'll call iiiiit feeear" over the woozy organs and jangly guitars of "Support Yourself." You picture the skateboard-bound shoes of Pavement, the unapologetic and strangely toned brown-corduroy of a Modest Mouse, the belt-buckle of an earnest (but not sappy) Death Cab For Cutie, the argyle sweater of an Essex Green, perhaps the unkempt-yet-still-intellectual-looking facial hair of Built To Spill - sonically swathed by all of these - yet never guilty of stealing anything directly. The sparse, atmospheric guitars, the daydreamy-stare-out-the-window-on-a-rainy day piano, the tumbling drums that set a fire in your chest - any of that lingering "literate-rock" or northwestern late 90's flavor is a faint imprint on the pleasing propulsion of the band's latest album, Dark Dark Woods.

Indeed, the influence is not so direct or beaten-over-the head; more like the after taste of a fine organic black cherry tea, or the lingering blue-circle burn of staring at the sun. Husband & Wife's airy guitar scrapes, slight-country twangs, soft heart on the sleeves moments or more haunted percolation set this strange comfort in your stomach. The swirling builds, tribal drums and fiery post-rock guitar flickers of "England Lives" or "Mulberry Squeezins" facilitate that slightly-ominous yet exciting feeling of being at the mouth of dark girth of woods - but you're given this sound, this already an ally - you can trust carries a machete for the thick parts, it's got water and a first aid kit, it laughs at your jokes and knows when to tell you to just shut up and listen.

The band (Mike Adams, Tim Felton, Will Rose, Bryant Fox) was started by Adams and Felton, meeting in college in the early 00's...Rose was an old friend of Felton's and eventually joined - with Fox coming on board through an alliance formed at just playing shows with the trio through some of his other bands. In 2006 they self-released operation:surgery, and have since released 2 EP's, recorded for Daytrotter and toured consistently. Dark Dark Woods came out in February.

"We spent a long time working on this record," said Adams. "We collected a lot of songs and whittled the choices down to what made best sense together. We hadn't ever done that before. Also, we went to a real professional recording studio to do this one, rather than recording it at home, or in someone else's home. That process was a lot of fun and allowed us to focus more on creative things, rather than putting our energy into engineering a record."

The band will continue to tour through 2009 and work on new material (that's "definitely got a different vibe than Dark Dark Woods"). In the meantime, they continue to run their own label Crossroads of America records - with 3 releases planned in 2009. "We're keeping busy," said Adams.

Daytrotter session
Crossroads of America

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