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Drowned in Sound: Real Estate - Atlas
Drowned in Sound: Baths - Obsidian


January 2014
Shy Boys
"Shy Boys
"
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Shy Boys continue to bridge the gap between the basement and the stage with the release of their debut, self-titled LP. With efficiency and restrained flourish the boys have spun off 10 pop yarns, many of which are apt to linger long past their modest 24-minute duration. While the bulk of the earworms are front-loaded the album doesn’t flag nor does it deviate in its trajectory. The consistency of this record demonstrates that the Shy Boys know their strengths and are not ashamed to stick with them.
 
Such reliability is probably why Shy Boyscomposed of the brothers Collin and Kyle Rausch and friend Konnor Ervin, have enjoyed a recent burst in popularity. In short order they’ve managed to endear themselves to a variety of local bands and fans, the label High Dive Records, and assorted music journalism outlets. It’s no wonder they recently won The Pitch award for Best Band Everyone Can Agree OnThey’re appeal is almost egalitarian. Of course it doesn’t hurt to be backed by Solid Gold, the same talent agency that promotes the likes of Dirty Beaches, The Dodos, and The Sea And Cake.
 
Call it playing it safe, but what Shy Boys lack in boundary-pushing they make up for in general likeability. This record can easily play in the background, comfortably command the car stereo, or be the gentle panacea for your private boi slash gurl bedroom troubles; odds are the record will fit most settings without much abrasion. That’s the idea. Kudos given.
 
Much of the album’s warm roughness is owed to its simple and straightforward nature as well as the inherent qualities found by recording live to tape. For this engineering feat the nod is given to Mike Nolte of Westend Recording, a studio known for their dedicated use of the mediumSure, the reverb is cranked and the vocals can be muddied into ambiguity, but those cool, moody hooks are enough to keep the record spinning on repeat.
 
--Andrew Erdrich

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Album review: The Blackbird Revue - Glow (EP)

Album review: The Blackbird Revue - Glow (EP)

2013 is shaping up to be another very fine vintage for local music, with several quality releases already available and a slew of eagerly-anticipated albums coming soon to fine retailers and Bandcamp pages near you. Add to this list Glow, the third EP (and first since 2010) from The Blackbird Revue. Husband-and-wife team Jacob and Danielle Prestidge have established themselves as purveyors of an ear-pleasing sound that combines Americana, folk, country, and indie pop in various layers, and their vocal harmonies continue to astonish and devastate. Glow shows the twosome, with the help of several skilled musicians, bringing these skills to the listener in fine form.

 
The lead track, “When You Are Mine,” shows The Blackbird Revue at the height of its harmonic powers. Those of you who have taken singing lessons or been involved in choral music for any number of years will understand this: both Jacob and Danielle show great ability at singing over the notes. Coming at the music from above gives the vocals an airy, lilting quality during the softer moments at the beginning of this song (and throughout the EP), but the second half sees the tempo change from a gentle breeze to a howling gale, lifting the listener up and carrying said listener on a Thelma and Louise-esque ride straight over the cliff …
 
… where the title track awaits to catch you and cradle you in its gentle comfort. Glow paints a lyrical landscape with such verses as “fade / our sunsoaked yesterdays / to sepias and grays,” with the intertwined voices alternating in the roles of both palette and canvas. “Winter Rest” is the most pop-sensible track of the four, with undeniable hooks that make toe-tapping a near certainty. The EP concludes with “Lone Swan,” a winsome ballad that offers an encouraging word and a shoulder to lean on for someone whose burden has grown heavy (“this world is cruel this world is kind / and sometimes love is hard to find / so if you need to clear your mind / take the keys and take your time”).
 
When you listen to Glow, you hear music that pleases with its honesty and directness, but the notes that spring from your speakers don’t tell the entire story. Listening to Danielle and Jacob work together, harmonize together, and just be together, you realize that they have … something … indefinable, yet unmistakable. This isn’t just a musical duo, and this isn’t just a married couple. This is a union of two spirits and souls that complement each other perfectly as no other could. The underlying intensity and obvious passion shine brightly throughout this 14-minute love letter from the Blackbird Revue.
 
I hope someday we all get to experience that same glow.
 
The group’s next performance will be next Friday, March 8 at River’s Bend Restaurant and Bar in Parkville with Jason Craig and The Wingmen at 8:00 pm (Facebook event here). The Blackbird Revue will also be a part of the HomeGuard Festival VIP party on Saturday, March 16 at The Midwestern Musical Co. at 7:00 pm.
 
 
 
--Michael Byars
 

Michael Byars may or may not be pickling things at this moment. It’s possible that he’s already had four or five bottles of Mountain Dew by now. There’s a chance that he is at a hookah bar somewhere. You may say he’s a dreamer. But most of all, he spells pretty well and he works for free, so we let him write stuff for us sometimes. 

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