Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Indie Music: Winchester Revival "Burden's Landing"

by Germar Derron

Compliment sandwich. I will write a compliment sandwich review. The compliment sandwich has positive points as buns and "room to grow" for meat (or weird veggie substitute). The compliment sandwich has three sub sized problems. First, no one looks at sandwiches from the requisite perspective unless you're laying your chin on the table--eyes to meat with your lunch. B, the purpose of the compliment sandwich is to start a critique on a positive note and end on a perfectly pitched high one. But no one eats sandwiches that way--bun-meat-bun. We eat sandwiches in a way that maximizes taste. Hopefully, we experience the perfect balance of sweet, salty, bitter, savory, and sour in each bite. And a tertiary point--when I think of sandwiches, I think of the meat (or vegan substitute). So no matter how we dress up the criticism, it remains a roast beef, turkey, or poorly produced sandwich.

For better and worse, I am amazed by today's indie rock. I still expect to hear teenagers in their garages with Radio Shack mics and a Tascam PortaStudio. As is the case here, indie albums are almost major label level, radio ready "records." I'm impressed by the diversity here. I don't want to compare Winchester Revival to other bands. In this case, that's a good thing. They may be doing too much, but I feel this is who they are; they should stay the course. Polish, work, wax on, wax off, but don't change. The project is just "soft" enough that no one should hate it. But it's not so soft that years from now we all make jokes about how much we hate it.

One thing bothered me about the entire EP--the drums. As an engineer and producer, I know that we tend to obsess about our drum sounds, mics, reverb, gates, compression. We often reserve half of the sonic space for the drums.Then, we squeeze the rest of the sound into the remaining 50%. I believe the band produced the tracks . . . .  The snare drum sounds thin, in a papery way that snare drums should never sound in rock music. It sounds minimalist, like 60s drums, but in a 2000s world where we mic each drum and some drums twice, use over heads, cymbal and room mics. I can't believe that this was oversight, or a purposeful choice. I'm confused. But beyond the drums, I have no real complaints.

I'm a vocal guy. And though the vocals are inconsistent and "pitchy," I don't mind listening. On "Salamander" the vox sound a little dated, like the drums throughout. But it's a clear choice and the right one. Actually, on all of my favorite tracks, "Diligence," "Keep it Together," and "Salamander," the vocals sound like everything I like about guys-with-guitars music. And I'm listening to those tracks as I type now, and I'm pretty damn happy. Keep it together.


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