The Winter Sounds | Church of the Haunted South (Theory 8)

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cd_winter-sounds.jpgThis is indie rock, make no mistake, and inviting, addictive indie rock at that.







This Chicago-by-way-of-Athens, Ga. indie outfit really has something going for it. They've just released their second album and are continuing to rack up miles on the van, bringing the endearing live show to towns across the country.

It's in the live setting where this band truly excels; their CDs, though enjoyable, can't entirely replicate the energy and appeal of their stage performance. Sophomore effort Church of the Haunted South picks up where Porcelain Empire left off. There are the requisite upward-reaching drumbeats, the uplifting keyboards, the fast-paced—and, at times, slowed down—guitar lines and bass undertones. This is indie rock, make no mistake, and inviting, addictive indie rock at that.

Bassist/vocalist Patrick Keenan provides strong, fluid vocals, often sounding not unlike '80s icons Icicle Works ("Whisper to a Scream"). Whether he's stretching to the top register of his abilities, slipping into falsetto, or near-intoning his words, his voice is always smooth, a pleasure to listen to.

Church of the Haunted South offers a few surprises: occasionally breaking into interesting instrumentation outside of standard rock-band fare, or offering buoyant, swelling vocal harmonies. There's something classic to its sound; definitely a bit of the '80s feel (see above), but ultimately more timeless and lasting. Though it's hard to choose a favorite, there's something about "Pinebox" that keeps calling me back; "Trophy Wife," "Autumn Movement" and the inspiring "Hope for the Future" also rise a bit above the fray.

Only occasionally does a song fall a bit flat, as in the overused falsetto on "O'Fear," or the way "The Others" gallops ahead without taking a breath. On the whole, though, Church is a giddy, cheerful ride from a band well deserving of all the accolades sure to be headed their way. B+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, The Lightning Seeds

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