Monday, March 4, 2013

The Longwalls "Kowloon" Album Review

My first review for RLR, Glenn Yoder, forwarded the folks in the band The Longwall’s my way, and man, I am happy that he did so. The band masterfully blends traditional folk instruments and music with a modern style of synth usage, sound modulation, and atmospheric noise dynamics that is really quite impressive and pleasing to the ears. I have to admit that this style of music was never really my thing until I gave this record a listen…and I have to say, that after playing this through a few times, I am a fan.

The record kicks off with Vaasa. A slightly grungy track, a bit lonesome and isolated kind of feeling makes it way through my bones as Alan Wuorinen delivers a vocal performance slightly reminiscent of The Low Anthem. I hear bits and pieces throughout the 8 tracks that remind me of that band (which I have no complaints about, because I love the Low Anthem and its different enough that it took me a long time to pinpoint the likeness). Track 3 (Long for Shipwrecks) has a bit of a Bright Eyes feel to the vocal and lyrics (which I also enjoy). Its upbeat, with a happy whistle throughout the song.There are ever-present, complex arrangements of traditional folk instrumentation interspersed with synth and sound modulation which is really interesting. It pulls me back and forth from an acoustic roots feel, to something I would most likely hear on college radio...well, stations that have good taste at least.
Track 5 (Woods Pretty) is my favorite of the eight. It has got a bit more of a rootsy, haunting feel. I get a very rural, wintertime, warm fire, going for a snowy drive in New England vibe when listening to it…which I can never complain about, but I may have a little bias here. The vocals have a slight raspiness to them, gives it a bit of a calming feel (again wintertime, hibernation, etc.) and has a cool harmony part that carries the listener along for the ride. Either way, it paints a great atmosphere that really pulls you into the song.
The band has presented a adaptive collection of songs ranging from folk to indie rock to avant-garde ambience and back again, blending the best elements of roots/country music with something hip/modern day music fans will appreciate. Thank you Longwalls, you have turned this roots music purist into a believer that good, traditional folk music can evolve using electronic instruments without causing detriment to the genre. Keep it coming!
Check out their bandcamp and steam some of their stuff:

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