Stove — ‘s Favorite Friend (Oct. 31, 2018)
∴♦∴ Noisy, emotionally charged indie rock band headed by Ovlov frontman Steve Hartlett.
Location: Newtown, CT
Album release: October 31, 2018
Record Label: Exploding Insound Records
01. Safe Guy 4:05
02. Nightwalk 2:01
03. Stiff Bones 3:30
04. Favorite Friend 4:01
05. Duckling Fantasy 1:46
06. Difficult Dooley 2:04
07. Mosquiter 2:47
08. Liverwurst 4:14
09. Annoying Guy 4:46
10. They Are Dogs 4:03
11. Animortal 1:51
⇑ Jordyn Blakely Drums, Group Member, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
⇑ Nick Dooley Engineer, Mixing
⇑ Michael Hammond Jr. Group Member, Guitar
⇑ Steve Hartlett Drums, Group Member, Guitar, Vocals
⇑ Amar Lal Mastering
⇑ Alex Molini Bass, Group Member, Keyboards, Vocals
⇑ Jenny Scales Cover Art
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra | Score: ★★★★
⇑ After making the first Stove album, 2015’s Is Stupider, by himself after the breakup of his emo~noise band Ovlov, Steve Hartlett decided to surround himself with a band. After some searching, he found drummer/vocalist Jordyn Blakely and bassist Alex Molini, and they made a couple of strong EPs before starting work on an album in 2017. By this time, Ovlov had re~formed and that band’s second guitarist, Mike Hammond, joined Stove as well. The quartet spent a long time working on demos in Molini’s basement — refining the songs and working on arrangements — before heading to the studio. The result of the band’s efforts, ‘s Favorite Friend, is an impressive slab of noisy, heartfelt indie rock that takes elements of emo, shoegaze, dream pop, ‘90 alt~rock, and post~rock and melds them together into a sound that’s as warm as a blanket on a cold day and as thick as a hearty stew. The songs are put together with care and produced with an extremely light touch. The music doesn’t blast out of the speakers as much as it slowly insinuates itself into the listener’s brain, which is different from the experience of listening to an Ovlov record. They tend to be more immediate and dominated by guitar blowouts; the sound here is more measured and careful, though no less powerful. Hartlett and Hammond’s guitars are layered and stacked like firewood, Molini’s bass is steady and melodic, and Blakely’s drumming is as titanic or restrained as the occasion dictates. Hartlett’s vocals are as conversational as ever and Blakely’s additions provide a nice balance.
⇑ The songs are deep and splattered by emotions; both Hartlett and Blakely lost family members and their pain seeps out into the melodies, giving them a deep melancholy that gives the album real weight. Stove display the ebb and flow of classic bands like Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr., building to crescendos and spiraling into guitar oblivion, but always anchored by real~life emotions and Hartlett’s very grounded vocals. Tracks like “Liverwurst” and “They Are Dogs” hit hard and cut deep; the latter gets added punch from some violent shoegaze guitar grind. The insistent heartbreaker “Duckling Fantasy” features Blakely’s sole lead vocal and is good enough that the clock starts ticking for the release of her solo album; the weird “Difficult Dooley” starts off as a pitch~shifted bossa nova before switching to a minor~key grunge ballad; and “Mosquiter” comes closest to being a pop song with its catchy chorus and loping beat.
⇑ Stove function throughout like a well~oiled machine, bringing their separate parts together to build a unified whole on an album that’s indie rock at its best: emotionally powerful, sonically thrilling, and as real as a punch in the gut.