Hurricane Bells | Tides and Tales (Invisible Brigades)

 

cd hurricane bellsSteve Schiltz returns with Hurricane Bells, a new band—and a new direction.

 

 

Longwave frontman Steve Schiltz is one of those rare musical talents who nearly has it all: a great voice, proven songwriting skills, an inviting sound, and an inviting personality. Unfortunately, Longwave faded after three albums, and Schiltz was left searching. He’s returned with Hurricane Bells, a new band—and a new direction.

The primary downside of Tides and Tales is its laid-back and inconsistent presentation, including the fact that Schiltz’s voice is nearly unrecognizable. That said, it’s a good album, full of chilled-out indie rock, mild-mannered vocals, retro influences, and often surprising beats. Since the disc’s October release, Hurricane Bells has garnered its fair share of acclaim, and deservedly so. The album’s a varied collection of sounds soft, pop, and rock.

Disc opener “I’ve Got a Second Chance” introduces the album as mellow. Next up, “Possibilities” continues this impression…until the guitars kick in and really rip things up. “The Ghost of Her” is a throwback to the shimmering pop of the ’60s. Schiltz is really shaking things up, eh? Well, sort of. With the next song, he shows us where Hurricane Bells’ heart (seems to) lie: in the meadow, not on the mountain.

Some lounge-y qualities appear on “Blue Blue Moon,” while up next, “Hours Like Days” has more of a melodious Death Cab for Cutie vibe. The techno-lounge elements of instrumental “Piano Stunt” are a welcome touch, keeping the listener on her toes and the album on a curving path. If any track here most closely resembles Longwave, it’s “Let’s Go.” The rhythm section is much more straightforward, the beat steady and the vocals rising—if slightly—over the music. This one’s tops, for sure.

Vocal distortion lends texture to the pop gem “House on Fire” and low-key “Before I’m Gone,” as does whistling on “If This Night Is Over.” Closing out the disc are the Kevin Devine-y “Flowers in the Dirt” and instrumental upbeat groove “The Hunger Moon.” All in all, a solid and creative offering. B+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: The Postal Service, Magnetic Fields, The Byrds

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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