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The Soft Hills — Departure [2014]

 The Soft Hills — Departure [March 10, 2014]

USA Flag              The Soft Hills — Departure
   Seattle–based quartet the Soft Hills create a visceral take on soft–psych indie rock, calling to mind the hypnotic melancholy of the Red House Painters as well as contemporaries like Fleet Foxes.
   "Departure" is a monolith of an album, an album of contrasts — unlike its predecessors, yet unmistakably "The Soft Hills". Hobba is simply an excellent songwriter and his voice unmistakable. The album was mixed in London by no less than Abbey Road veteran Guy Massey (Spiritualized, The Beatles, Manic Street Preachers).
   So what is the best way to listen to Departure? Hobba: “The best situation is probably to listen to the album on vinyl with headphones alone in the dark or lying on your back next to your best friend with a good stereo and a bottle of opium.”
Location: Seattle, Washington
Album release: March 10, 2014
Record Label: Tapete
Duration:     39:45
Tracks:
01. Golden Hour      3:30
02. Black Flowers      3:50
03. Road To The Sun      3:34
04. The Fold      3:23
05. White Queen      4:35
06. Reverie      1:05
07. How Can I Explain?      3:57
08. Here It Comes      4:23
09. Blue Night      3:35
10. Belly Of A Whale      4:00
11. Stairs      3:53
Personnel:
Brett Massa — bass, guitar, vocals
Garrett Hobba — vocals, guitar, piano
Randall Skrasek — drums, moog, vocals
Matthew Brown — guitar, lap steel
Review by Fred Thomas;  Score: ****
   "Under the tireless leadership of songwriter Garrett Hobba, Seattle-based indie psych act the Soft Hills began turning in nearly annual albums of spacy folk in 2010, each record slowly gaining more focus. Released in 2013, Chromatisms saw the band moving away slightly from the indie folk reference points of its earliest albums, opting for experiments with echo–drenched textures instead of rootsy sentimentality. Perhaps aptly titled, fourth album Departure all but strips the Soft Hills sound of its earlier woodsy wandering, delving further into exploratory deep space and even more solid excursions into traditional indie rock. Soft Hills‘ basic songwriting core finds itself somewhere between the obscured melancholy of Red House Painters and the spaced–out pop sensibilities of mid-period Pink Floyd, but the edges are sharper in both directions on these songs. The straightforward album opener, “Golden Hour,” has the same sung–spoken directness and chiming guitar plinks of the best Lee Ranaldo–penned Sonic Youth tracks, and the springy “Belly of a Whale” has the same lighthearted bounce and organ drones of Yo La Tengo. Elsewhere, the bandmembers flex their experimental tendencies, with druggy slide guitar lines and reverb–heavy snare hits framing the classic down–the–rabbit–hole motif of a psychedelic journey on “White Queen.” “How Can I Explain?” is a less on the soft side, with driving rhythms pushing forward, gurgling guitar tones, and subdued bubbling electronic effects. ◊◊◊   Clearer in their vision than ever before, the Soft Hills turn in their brightest productions and most daring songwriting choices on Departure, setting the scene for even further refinement on future albums." (allmusic.com)
REVIEW
written by Ged M — Feb 27, 2014
   Departure charts the relocation of Garrett Hobba from rainy Seattle to sunny California for health reasons, though the lyrics of songs like ‘Golden Hour’ cast a North Western gloom over the bright arrangements (“they’re fucking with your life support, trying to put you down”). Almost gone is the Americana feel of earlier albums; there are still some Fleet Foxes–style harmonies but the influences are more spacey and European; ‘Road to the Sun’ channels Pink Floyd and the Flaming Lips, while ‘White Queen’ has echoes of Midlake when they were on an English folk trip. ‘Here It Comes’ is, lyrically and musically, the best thing on Departure; a bit like early Fleetwood Mac, it’s meditative and slow with sweet harmonies and is full of special pleading: “I promised you not to drop the ball again….woman give me one more chance”. Strangest of all is ‘Stairs’, muscular where the rest of the record is cerebral and sounding like it was released on Factory Records in the 80s, complete with post–punk droney guitars. Those European influences are the most compelling reason for listening to the Soft Hills and make Departure the best arrival point for newcomers to the band. (http://soundsxp.com/Also:

by Graeme Marsh | posted on 18 Mar 2014 | Score: ***
:: http://www.musicomh.com/reviews/albums/soft-hills-departure
Other Music:
:: http://www.othermusic.com/products/soft-hills-departure
In french:
   Les nombreuse références évoquées dans la "review" ci-dessus sont effectivement plutôt pertinentes. Bref, un album qui mérite d'etre écouté.
Website: http://www.thesofthills.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesofthills
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Soft-Hills/136465592961
Label: http://www.tapeterecords.de/artists/the-soft-hills/
Contact:
Label: finn@tapeterecords.de
Booking: sebastian@tapeterecords.de
Band: softhillsmusicLabel: finn@tapeterecords.de
Booking: sebastian@tapeterecords.de
Band: softhillsmusic@gmail.com
Europe publicist: nina@tapeterecords.de
US publicist (Robert Vickers): proxymedia@frontiernet.net
UK publicist: sean@mutante.co.uK

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The Soft Hills — Departure [2014]

 

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