Smile Politely

B-Sides: March 2014

Waterfowl — Endless Winter Demo

I didn’t know very much about Waterfowl before listening to Endless Winter Demo. I hadn’t seen them live, I hadn’t heard any of their recordings, and the “demo” in the title of the release kept my expectations even more in check. After listening, however, I’m very eager to learn more about the band and hear more of their work.

From the start, this recording captivated me. Mike Daab really gets the bass rocking on “Imposter,” he sits in the pocket and puts a really fantastic groove into the song. The story of the song, about letting the bad inside you take over your life, is matched perfectly by the music, creating a great tonal harmony. The gang vocals delivering that story together with the bass combine to give the song a great barn dance, sing-a-long, party vibe. The vibe is not present on the second track, “County Line,” though. And while the song is solid, it kind of robs this demo collection of the momentum it picked up on “Imposter.” Mitch Holmer’s vocals are stronger on “County Line,” even if they sit a little deeper in the mix at times. Despite the fact that the second song is less fun than the first, I enjoyed its quiet moments the best. When the vocals are backed by sparse guitar picking, a few clicks of the drum sticks and some in-between bass notes, “County Line” has a very desolate prettiness to it.

The final song of this collection, “Tennessee,” might be my favorite. It hooked me right away with a sweet little guitar riff and very simple rhythm. Holmer doesn’t enunciate the best in this song, but his drawl has a rural Springsteen quality about it that is endearing. What makes this song most enjoyable for me, however, is the fact that the band added a second guitar track. Through both of the first two songs I often felt that a lead guitar line would really add some heft to the songs and make them feel more filled out and less like sketches. That is borne out in “Tennessee” and really helps push the song to the next level. While there are some obvious drawbacks to this recording, as a demo, a starting point, there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to Waterfowl. — Chris D. Davies

Withershins — “Mt. Fuji In Blue”

The easiest way to classify Withershins’ sound is to claim that it’s unclassifiable. The band itself has put forth the theory that they’re some combination of post-hardcore/emo and shoegaze, but even that description doesn’t fully acknowledge their complex sound.

The band’s new single, “Mt. Fuji in Blue,” pushes that sound into further uncharted territory. The band drives into a groove throughout the first two and a half minutes of the song, as reverb and distortion-heavy guitars intertwine with singer Isaac Arms’ distant and muddled voice. Arms’ vocals settle into a repetitive hook, letting the track’s intricacies unfold slowly but purposefully. Although the band avoids typical song structure, it succeeds at varying the many sections of “Mt. Fuji in Blue” enough to keep things interesting. The consistent thread is that there are plenty of guitar sounds that jump across the fretboard atypically but still end up making melodic sense.

At least according to the top Google dictionary result, Withershins derives its name from a word meaning “in a direction contrary to the sun’s course, considered as unlucky.” If you consider the trajectory of the group’s multi-year career, it’s apparent that the band name does not align with what’s actually happening. “Mt. Fuji in Blue” certainly proves that the band is on the right track. — Will Hagle

Sun Stereo: “Dance mf”

“Dance mf” by Sun Stereo makes you want to do just that — dance. And if it doesn’t make you want to dance, you definitely get in the mood for moving and being active. The funky sounds make it sound like it is a mix between the funkadelic 70’s and that you’re in the old school movie Oz. The vocals sound a little distant but it also plays into the electronic and futuristic sounds. This song could be the background music for a superhero or even the cool Austin Powers. The single is cool and I look forward to what other groovy things Sun Stereo has to offer. — Taylor Polydore


B-Sides is a monthly article designated for local albums released that might get overlooked for feature articles, but are definitely worth discussing. If you’re interested in your band’s record being featured on B-Sides, let us know at Note: Because some albums featured in B-Sides are released at the end of the previous month, we sometimes bump them to the next month.

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