I received Heavy Hometown's new CD entitled "Action Figures" from Jeb today. He told me. "New Band of the Week.... Give it a listen." So I took the CD and popped it into my computer for a listen.
"Action Figures" starts off with a melancholic track called "We Ate The Bug." The song is pretty slow and the vocals are pretty empathetic in tone. But about 50 seconds before the song starts to close the beat picks up and ends on a high note. Its an odd way to start an album but I have to say that it works well. It hooked me while asking the question "Where is this going to go? This sounds like it should be the last song!"
Expecting the rest of the album to follow suit with the slow pace to match the vocals, I was surprised when the rest of the tracks were quite upbeat. The biggest signature of this album seems to be that "Action Figures" almost always provides a stark contrast between the instrumentals and the vocals. The instrumentals for the most part are upbeat and very lo-fi, with synth and horns that remind me of some the arrangements found in Arcade Fire. The vocals on the other hand are low and slow paced, reminiscent of such bands as The National.
But Heavy Hometown is not a mere imitation of those bands. They utilize those elements, and it comes out sounding original and highly enjoyable. The song "Strange Wave" starts of with a strange wave (couldn't resist) of effected guitars and distorted vocals....but then everything clears for a tiny musical interlude....then back to the strange wave again. "Medicine" starts out with a big heavy drone and is easily the most heavy track on the album. Layers of effected guitars and keyboards mixed with the low melancholic tone of the vocals reminds me of my favorite moments I've heard on many Granddaddy albums.
It's really hard not to bob your head along to these songs. They are catchy and fun. A lot of songs remind me of things I have experienced before. They bring up past memories in my own life. "Retreat City" is one of those songs. It reminds me of driving with my friends, in the afternoon, talking and enjoying the open road.
Overall, I really enjoy this album. I actually listened to it twice and plan to play it a lot this summer in my car during those long drives with friends. Most of this record brings up nostalgic memories. By that I mean these songs remind me of times in the past that I've really enjoyed with friends, girls, alone on the road etc. And I think that's why I like it so much. I feel like It is easy to relate to because it paints a picture of experiences we have all had in our lives.
The Band's Biography and downloadable tracks from the album are located on the archive here
, And look forward to the release of "Action Figures." on July 15, 2009