Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seance Hill’s vocals are split between male and female singing

Music: The Winebirds: Seance Hill

Our Take

For the past couple of days I’ve been listening to Seance Hill, the new album from Portland’s The Winebirds. While I probably could have written a review already for this disc, each time around it has revealed new musical influences and styles that I didn’t initially notice. Now as I approach what is probably my tenth time through the album, I feel as though I can really tell you what this band has to offer. You see, at heart The Winebirds are an indie pop group with some folk tendencies. But Seance Hill also wanders into soul and dance rock/pop territories and there are a lot of subtle elements that may take a couple of listens to really pick up on.
The instrumentals succeed by offering a wide variety of styles and ensuring that everything sounds completely natural. One minute the group has a very mellow folk/country twang while the next they have a slightly quirkier dance rock/indie vibe that is bursting with energy. Despite the fact that it can often be hard to predict just what The Winebirds will choose to do next, there are never any moments where it seems as though they switched to a style without really thinking it through first. There’s a pretty nice balance between slow acoustic tracks and faster paced ones, and because the group doesn’t get quite as eccentric as some of their peers they may be able to grab the folk purists. While the melodies will really grab listeners and hook them, there are plenty of individual elements that are rather subtle and will leave an impression once people have had enough time to fully absorb the disc.

Seance Hill’s vocals are split between male and female singing, and the members complement each other nicely. Although towards the second half of the album the female vocals start to take over and really steal the spotlight, there is some interplay between the two singers early on and this results in some nice little duets that are enjoyable to listen to. Stylistically The Winebirds definitely sound as though they have taken influence from a number of different indie rock and folk acts, as the vocals have that stripped down feel that makes the album feel more personal. Admittedly the male singing does seem a little too mellow at times and doesn’t vary in pitch enough, but this is ultimately a minor flaw.

The folk/indie rock genres are extremely crowded but this group deserves a spot in your collection. The Winebirds could further expand on some of their soul/dance rock influences but even if they end up moving in a different direction they seem as though they have the songwriting skills to make it work. Seance Hill is a very charming album, and it’s another winner from the Portland music scene which continues to produce impressive bands.

Chris Dahlberg

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