“And I told you there was nothing I have to hide…” Kim Krans declares in the bewitchingly insomniatic track “Night Song,” the opener to Grace & Lies (No Quarter), the collaboration with her husband Jonny Ollsin aptly named Family Band. Its crushing static and hypnotic guitar line serves as a bone-chilling invitation inside the group’s second full-length album, and is an obvious standout to the collection. In “Ride,” an acoustic finger-picked guitar opens the songs, while Krans’ words “let a story be told in full, boy you write the ending kind, the prettiest words you can find” play out like a letter. The interplay between the acoustic and electric guitar develop an interesting dynamic - the acoustic pattern playing off the electric which resonates with ever increasing ferocity as it progresses ultimately reaching a climax where the drums make a late appearance pushing the torment over the edge causing the musical unit to burst with epic force.
The album has the ability to shift gears while also remaining on a steady course. For “Again,” the track produced by Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen for and episode of Shaking Through, a steady backbeat of percussion opens the door for Krans latest narrative. While the percussion is always present in its background serving as a foundation in the song, the guitar contributes in a prominent fashion. The music morphs to accompany her vocals. At each lyrical turn, a new or augmented element emerges adding anticipation to each line, and on the following song and the album’s title track, a simple throbbing bass and harmonized backing vocals elevate as if a communal sacrifice is being made. Krans has the listener’s complete attention as the guitar stirs and her voice pushes the boundaries of the powerful mantra-like words.
Overall, the album is moody with its sparse instrumentation that lays as a backdrop for Krans’ meditative, siren-esque vocals. It’s introverted, but longs to be heard. And it should be.
Family Band will be performing songs from Grace & Lies live in its rightful setting tonight at their Philly album release show in the Side Chapel of The First Unitarian Church. You can also purchase the album HERE. - Michael Colavita
For those who decide whether to come or go based on the first forty seconds of an album, Restorations’ LP2 is practically tailor-made for snap judgments. After a chiming, anthemic guitar opening, the band already known for fist-raising jams lets all hell break loose with “D,” their most unrestrained opener yet. The drum kit-mauling, earth-shaking bass lines and ascendant guitar riffs can only be described as complete sensory overload, and make it clear that the following eleven songs are going to be fueled by pure viscera. If your preferences run towards structure over huge sound, this release may leave you cold; LP2’s predominant means of exploring the band’s wealth of ideas are stadium-sized instrumentation and endless waves of atmospherics, as well as a dose of ennui.
This is a murkier, more inward-looking Restorations than we’re used to. Everything that was there before, musically, is blown sky-high this time around. They’ve managed to pack ideas into every iota of the song list, aided by Jon Low’s miles-deep production; the density of the music itself is offset by an album-long meditation on place, belonging, and the ramifications of leaving the familiar behind, which makes the outsized sound that much more of an interesting direction. Juxtaposing the existential discomfort with more sophisticated, complex forays into Restorations’ sonic wheelhouse.
The spiraling guitars, one of the album’s specially prominent features, are everywhere, serving various purposes in each song. “Kind of Comfort”’s jittery glam rock aspirations accompany lyrics of searching and wanderlust. Even the more downbeat cuts (“In Perpetuity Through The Universe,” “New Old”) are propelled beyond their subject matter by the songs’ barely-concealed restless energy. At its more pensive moments, like the folk-inflected “Civil Inattention,” there is a restless undercurrent of texture and volatility that never quite lets up.
Album closer “Adventure Tortoise” is all monster buildup laced with extraterrestrial effects, kicking off into a sort of requiem for the band’s neighborhood. “I’d really like to stay to help this place,” growls Jon Loudon through his teeth, but the allure of letting it all go is too strong to resist. The longing for a place “where nobody knows your name” isn’t quite all-consuming enough to inspire real action, but it is definitely the new paradigm Loudon means.
It takes guts to pull off a release that feels ten minutes long but contains more emotional and musical texture than most records. Restorations cover a whole lot of ground on LP2, and for the most part, pull off their ambitions. A bit too sanguine for shoegaze, and maybe too heady for punk, Restorations’ second full-length album brings an intriguing palette of aspirations to their open road-ready sound, prepared to try anything and everything. - Alyssa Greenberg