Monday, February 11, 2013

Shivering Timbers Latest

Shivering Timber.  Sing Sing.
Shivering Timbers, 2012.   
Shivering Timbers:

Shivering Timbers’ first full album, Sing Sing, is a strange mixture of genres blended together with a heavy stock of indie rock. This what I’d consider more of a folk band than anything else and Sing Sing’s title track has an indie pop quality to it. Sarah and Jayson Benn have a good collaboration and the songs are both melodic and chaotic. While many people in the music world suggest avoiding relationships in the band, lest you end up writing the overplayed “Don’t Speak” or anything from the oeuvre of Captain and Tennille, but often the married couple thing works. In this case, I don’t think the fact that Shivering Timbers happens to be a married couple detracts at all, and I hope they are enjoying or not enjoying the groupies accordingly to their previously agreed upon arrangement that may or may not exist. And I’m sure they’ll appreciate that.  
“Holly Holy” (a cover of the Neil Diamond tune) is a slower track, a little boring at the beginning, but the song shows power in the vocals which can fall behind in many indie tracks. It’s easy for a female artist to have her range pushed to the back burner in favor of “haunting” qualities, especially in Indie Rock (is anyone else as tired of Zooey Deschenal as I am?) It has a neat sixties folk sound to it with heavy drumbeats., sort of a Joan Baez/Grace Slick sensation.
Less indie and more electric folky, “Generations” is a great tune lyrically and melodically. The echoing of the vocals works with the rawness of the electric guitar. Grungy bass layers nicely and the band sounds united.
Shivering Timbers has the intimacy on the Weepies (married couple and band mates), albeit with a harsher, howl to it like good old country songs. There is something so earnest about the sound that I didn’t roll my eyes once, which is pretty much my go-to reaction. I was really hoping for something from the song “D.H. Lawrence,” being a literature nerd, but it blended into the song before it so the place in the album didn’t make it stand out. Actually I didn’t realize it was a different song until it was almost halfway over, which is never good.
Cold Mountain and the Civil War can be heard in the bluesy country tracks like “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” and the cover of “Wayfaring Stranger” (which is right up there with “Hallelujah” when it comes to overly-covered songs). While this isn’t my favorite rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger,” I think it would have been better without the ornamentation, it’s still solid. It was brave to remix the tempo and bit, modernizes it, which is more of a change than most artists would bother to attempt.
All Our Days is very She and Him which I find particularly irritating since I hate them and the entire concept of “Adorkable” is ridiculous to me. However, this is the trend of Indie Rock these days and I’m willing to forgive Shivering Timbers for this since so much of their stuff has a bluesy layer to it.
Overall, Sing Sing is a good, full bodied piece of work and Shivering Timbers have a creative and cool sound that has enough country to it to make it stand out among the “indie” wave.
Personnel:  Sarah Benn (vocals, upright bass), Jayson Benn (electric guitars, backup vocals), David Marhcione (drums, bells), Dan Kyshwanis (drums, bells)
Tracks:  Sing Sing, Holly Holy, Generations, Without Someone, D.H. Lawrence, Annalee, Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down, Wayfaring Stranger, All Our Days, Big Fire, I Love You So Much, The Mopping Floor, Boys and Girls.

Lauren Parker

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