The Long Winters
Putting the Days to Bed
The third record from Seattle’s The Long Winters is as fine a collection of short, punchy indie rock tunes as you could find in 2006. Lead songwriter John Roderick’s off-kilter lyrical sensibilities and occasionally oddball vocals are offset by an almost unerring sense of melody. It’s a combination that should appeal to fans of bands like The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie.
“Unkind girlish walk/ Like a deed to the world without the talk,” Roderick sings enigmatically on the harmony-laden opener “Pushover.” The bouncy “Fire Island, AK” is chock full of Roderick’s tasty guitar licks and personality-filled vocals. And on “Teaspoon,” The Long Winters prove to be one of the few bands that can make a one-word chorus (of the song’s title) interesting.
The album’s mid-section is a tad more problematic, though it’s never unpleasant. It’s hard to tell what Roderick is going on about on “Hindsight,” which wanders a bit musically without much of a sense of purpose. And music and lyrics don’t quite mesh on “Honest,” a song about a young girl who falls in love with a singer, despite her mother’s admonitions. Still, as such, it’s one of Roderick’s more conventional lyrical constructs.
The intriguing “Sky is Open” is told from the perspective of a retired Air Force pilot. “I’m finally the highest bird,” Roderick sings. “Clouds” includes a number of interesting turns of phrase including “We’re a kiss away from being dangerous” and “Don’t try to write your name in the clouds from the ground,” but also this head-scratcher: “Vinyl-clad architects with GPS/ Staple-gun carpenters building a 3-D mess.”
But the band’s just getting warmed up, as it turns out. “Ultimatum” puts their whole indie rock aesthetic together with organ, some nice guitar work, and sweet harmonies. “My arms miss you, my hands miss you/ The stars sing, I’ve got their song in my head,” Roderick sings. And “(It’s a) Departure,” with Eric Corson’s driving bass line and Roderick’s power guitars, is likely to make you want to put the song on repeat and jump around the room until you run out of energy.
Putting the Days to Bed is one record that never wears out its welcome. Don’t let this overlooked gem of 2006 pass you by.
The Long Winters: www.thelongwinters.com