Review enough bands and they all start to sound the same. Review more than enough and individual similarities start to stand out – just when you start to feel guilty whenever comparing one band to another. New York’s Ravens & Chimes’ evocative brightness sounds like other bands, but other specific bands – and good ones, on Holiday Life.
The evocative loss in a shining way of opener “Division Street” reminds one of The Mountain Goats (QRO live review), but in the way that main Goat John Darnielle can express without over-emoting (only Holiday‘s slightly too verbose “Clarissa Explains It All” has Darnielle’s over-literate tendency). But Ravens & Chimes continue to get brighter & bolder on the following “The Parting Glass” and single “Past Lives” (QRO single review), more in the style of Canadian alt-power-pop collective The New Pornographers (QRO live review) – including male-female dueting from singers Asher Lack (son of artist/star of Scanners Stephen Lack) and Rebecca Rossi; they’re not quite A.C. Newman (QRO album review) and Neko Case (QRO album review), but they’re getting there, including sad alt-country/pop on “Night”. Ravens & Chimes don’t always hit it out of the park – “In Rooms” feels like a simplistic version of themselves, while “Fox Gloves” is a little cloying; they can also get too sweet, such as on “Fox” or piano-led closer “Carousel”. But those are misses by degrees, not leagues.
Ravens & Chimes used to be compared (by QRO) to just slightly older, also-NYC acts such as Bishop Allen (QRO spotlight on) or Savoir Adore (QRO live review) – so comparisons to longer-lived out-of-towners like Mountain Goats, New Pornographers, or even The Decembrists (QRO album review) is growth. If you’re gonna be compared, be compared to the best.
MP3 Stream: “Past Lives”