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The Loom


Crossbill Records

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This year i got burned out on the whole SxSW party experience, so i blew off the final date of the festival and hung out at The Crow Bar for the afternoon, watching some random bands. One that i was impressed to was the chamber pop act The Loom, who had a French horn. I love the rich sound of the French horn, and i liked what they were doing on stage.

Well, just recently i found a copy of their debut record, from last year. This is a solid record of complex pop with strange instrumentation. I guess that this is, technically, post-rock. But, whatever -- they have French horn! This album features the best (non jazz) horn work i have heard since Hood stopped recording together, and that is saying something.

Apparently, The Loom are a six-piece act from Brooklyn. It was hard to tell who was in the band and who was just standing and singing along near them in the small space of The Crow Bar. They do ten songs in just about 45 minutes on this record. However, well, there is a bit of consistency to their work. The drums are light, the vocals are hushed and really sung by male and female vocalists who understand how to sing and are not just speaking rhythmically or screaming. The overall vibe i get is vaguely folk-ish. For the most part, the songs meander along, not really rocking out.

That said, i want to mention the real standouts here.

A Song Of Faint Praise not only has a great title, it also has a real cracking beat, the drummer really working it here. To this The Loom add slightly distorted guitar and the male and female vocalists harmonizing in a forceful staccato rhythm. And then, in the middle of the song, it gets epic, with the drummer shaking sleigh bells while the guitar ups the distortion and grinds away as the horn reverbs over it all. Very nice.

In Your Doldrums is a similar song that grows in much the same manner. However, the guitarist uses a different type of distortion, which comes across as very late 60s acid rock to me. Perhaps their guitarist discovered the lost pedals of Jefferson Airplane! It's a good effect, really.

For All My Friends In Spring, For All My Friends In Fall starts with a faint tinkling of guitar, then the male voice comes in, rich, sounding like The National's Matt Berninger. (He sounds like Berninger on Give Up The Ghost as well, but the similarity here is very striking.) The percussion thuds along, and then the female voice sings accompaniment, her voice clearer than his slight vibrato, and the two harmonize beautifully. These two vocalists really work well together.

The female voice takes the lead on The First Freeze, where she shows that she can really sing. The instrumentation behind her is sparse, just bare guitar and piano with a little horn. It reminds me of Cowboy Junkies, that sort of slight, pretty, vaguely melancholy pop.

For the Hooves that Gallop, and the Heels that March was apparently their single. It gets a little Pink Floydish, with droning organ, distorted guitar, and lots of trumpet. It is also a little more frantic than the rest of the record which is perhaps why they released it as a single.

Overall, i enjoy this album, but i can see why the sameness of the music can wear on some listeners. There is an almost formulaic nature to their songs. Different tunes have slightly different tempo and instrumentation, but all of them seem to have a melodic similarity. Still, they have French horn, and you gotta love that.

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