Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More Deep Cuts

Thee More Shallows - More Deep Cuts

Thee More Shallows
Turn Records, 2005

Sounds Like: Say Hi To Your Mom recorded an album after finally, like, totally getting Hail to the Thief.
People who read the above and thought "oooh!"
Listen: Thee More Shallows - Cloisterphobia

As I mentioned in the Silent Shout review a few weeks ago, online music sites have been pushing hard to get the "scoop" on new bands, and great albums by existing ones. To that end, its hard to believe that albums like More Deep Cuts can get looked over by some of the big guns. Thee More Shallows revolves around singer and songwriter Dee Kesler, and the album carries the air of a fuzzy bedroom pop album on the next level of evolution. Similarly, while there are many influences and contemporaries evident here, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who (or what) it sounds like without resorting to "a meets b fronted by c with a little m from d produced by i..." trainwrecks. All this makes for one of the most unique (and best) albums of the past few years.

Following the throwaway drum and sound loops of the intro track, "Pre-Present" gives a strong statement of purpose for the San Fransisco band's second album. Deep, wavering basses and stated drums accompany a gentle fingerpicked guitar pattern, giving way to a slow burning build of synths and french horns before the song climaxes to a thick, almost tangible, mass. All the while, Kesler's calm, persistent voice remains steady and anchored low in the mix. This approach to vocals in densely orchestrated instrumentals gives strong images of someone calmly describing their death as they lay dying, or casually strolling through a hurricane.

The album hits its high point around its middle, where the Bedhead-esque "Cloisterphobia" delivers a slow, powerful build, then releases it into the vibraphone-driven standout track "2 AM." Unfortunately, the energy begins to drop at this point on the album, moving into one of its many instrumental interlude tracks before getting to the meandering, toms-and-low-guitar dirge "Walk of Shame." Though album's closing two tracks are good, the loss of momentum hurts the strength they would have had otherwise.

More Deep Cuts is one of last year's true overlooked gems; a very strong album that showcases a tremendous amount of room to grow. With an EP in the wings, and maybe another album not too far off, Thee More Shallows stand to release an album that not only demands attention, but chides you for not doing so sooner. Only in the calmest way possible.



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