Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Tawny Peaks - S/T

Tawny Peaks is your new favorite band -- that is, if you like anything related to 90s Emo. For me, then, it's an obvious win. With the resurgence of twinkly emo, it's pretty commonplace to hear signed bands that sound like bands that ripped off bands that ripped off American Football. Thankfully, though, Tawny Peaks, hailing from Montclair, NJ, has decided to give that wave the finger, and to plow straight ahead, starting off their musical career at the intersection where "American Football" and "Nothing Feels Good" ended. Yeah, it's fucking incredible.

"With Steps," the album's opener is a short, sweet triumph of Cap'n Jazz worship, played by people who've wept openly at Owen shows. That's the best way to describe it, and I'm sticking to it. The vocals carry the same weight of the Kinsella brothers, but have the amateur stylings of The Promise Ring -- the highest compliment I could give. And the fucking lead guitar on this track... Sweet Christ. This sounds like a late-90s Polyvinyl release, not one from 2012. The gorgeous, male and female duet harmonies on this track are just the icing on the cake. This song is wonderful in every sense and degree of the word.

"Collect Calling" and "More Proof" both delve headfirst into the fast-paced and manic depressive worlds that were first (and until now, only) explored by The Promise Ring. The vocals maintain their fullness, yet sound at any moment like they'll snap in half if the harmony was even a half-step up; fragility, however, is the key to playing emotional music, and they do it perfectly. Again, the guitars are just mind-blowing; intertwining and battling for attention as they plod along and occasionally explode into sweeping barrages of sonic bliss.

"March Sadness" is one of my personal favorites on the album. If you listen to 5 seconds of it, you'll know why it is, and why it's your favorite, too. The sheer beauty of the guitars on this track paint a portrait of absolute godliness; nevermind the gorgeous female-led verses and heart-breakingly poetic lyrics. There's many things I could say about this song, but I'll just tell you to listen to it instead.

"The Tree Song" absolutely reeks of American Football... and, goddammit, I love it. Everything is perfect. Time changes, unconventional drums, and twinkling guitars are enough to put the listener in a sickly sweet coma, like taking a bath in "Pixie Stix."

"Molehill," although somewhat discordant and experimental, follows along the same, stunning lines -- clocking in at just under 2:30, and packing in every measure of the song with close-knit leads, manic bass, and hoarse vocals. However, it leads in perfectly to its polar opposite: "Ambiguity." Originally written by guitarist Jonah Fried, the addition of female vocals and a full band has made the heartfelt, genuine song an absolute masterpiece. This song is my absolute favorite. Taking cues more from Pedro The Lion than the Kinsellas, it never fails to impress at any moment.

Ending the album is "Bring Back The Mountain." Adding in mathy elements similar to Roadside Monument, this 8-minute epic is almost completely masturbatory in structure, flow, and message. Even though it is an incredible song, I think I love it more than most people, simply for the fact that Tawny Peaks, at some point, had to have said, "You know what? Fuck four minute songs. We're going double." Absolutely incredible, though, and a fitting closer.

Plain and simple, Tawny Peaks is the best thing to happen to Emo music since the Kinsellas. I mean it, I swear to whichever deity you prefer; I know it's a "lofty" statement, but there's simply no close second. Download their album for free, pre-order it on vinyl, kiss them on the lips, whatever... just support this band.