Less than a month to go and we’ll have Last Time I Saw Grace in our hands, and for those seeking some solace, it sounds like it may come by playing this LP from New Bums. Their latest single is this lonesome ballad, starring meandering atmospherics lurking behind heavy guitar strums and overlapping vocals (one heavy, one light); this is the sort of tune that makes you feel both alone and understood by the world, all at once. Going back to the earlier two singles, this is starting to feel like the record you cuddle up with and call home, if that makes any sense at all. The LP drops via Drag City on March 19th.
Sitting in my room by the lamp light seems like a fitting way to listen to the new release from New Bums, though this room is paid for. Going from song to song, Voices In a Rented Room is an album that truly fits best when you’re wrapped up in your own solitude, letting the tracks wash over you. But, with that in mind, it’s also one of the things that might wear on the listener.
“Black Bough” is one of the best slow jams I’ve heard in a really long time; it deserves to make it onto any playlist you create. I love the way the vocals were recorded, seemingly entering your ears on the cusp of the wind. There’s a heavy-heart that arrives too via the solemn strumming of the guitar; it helps establish the forlorn characteristics that accompany the track throughout. Moving forward into “Pigeon Town” you find more of the ornate guitar play that is associated with Ben Chasny and his earlier work with Six Organs of Admittance. But, while both these songs are carefully structured, including the string touches on the latter tune, it’s easy to see yourself getting stuck in the same listening space; there’s not a lot of movement sonically in Voices In a Rented Room.
For an audience new to the writing of these two, I think there’s several songs that you’ll find special. I can’t tell if it’s the recording itself, but I love the sincerity that’s present in a track like “Mother’s Favorite Hated Son.” If you listen closely, you’ll hear a bit of a buzz coming through your speaker as the deeper notes are struck; it reminds me of listening to a record I’ve listened to far too many times, worn out by the needle. That same slight buzz is present on “It’s the Way,” but the vocals are definitely what attracted me to this number. I love how the higher pitch in the vocal is matched by a slight string touch; it’s ever so gentle, but it adds the perfect listening sensation.
Therein lays both the strengths and weaknesses of going through this release from New Bums. Every song seems to have purpose, and with that comes a great attention to each little detail, each shift in pitch. Those artists’ brushstrokes give each track a redeemable quality, but it does make it hard for a passerby to fully grasp what is beneath the surface. It’s not something you can rest with in the background, but a piece you have to immerse yourself into, maximizing your relationship between the emotional pull and the band’s intentions. If you’re willing to dig deep, you’ll find a great bit of happiness in hearing Voices In a Rented Room.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/01_Black_Bough.mp3]
Download: New Bums – Black Bough [MP3]
If you need something down-trodden, yet holding onto a simplistic sense of beauty. You’d probably expect something of the sort considering the works of Ben Chasny and Donovan Quinn prior to their union as New Bums, but I can’t tell you how floored I am by how superb the below track truly is. From the light strumming to the tinkering piano in the faint distance, it all fits into a song that will probably haunt me for some time…such is the power of a great ballad. The two will put out Voices in a Rented Room on February 18th via Drag City.
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