6 track album
Review: Shelters “All These Heavy Things”
7/8 pizza slices (i don’t imagine i’ll ever have an actual rating system, probably something different every time)
let me just start by disclosing that i’ve known marshall usinger (one of the five dudes i’ve ever met who shares my name) since high school. we grew up in the same dull, lillywhite denver suburb. we played the same church basements, church back rooms and church sponsored outdoor events for years, in the two most mediocre screamo bands in littleton. then he joined a much cooler, much more electrifying and original band and they ruled the city until they broke up. people confuse us to this day, and i’m not mad or surprised.
and oh, how far we’ve come since those days. while i continue to put out loud, stupid songs about teen angst and breakups, marshall (2) is playing in a killer band called shelters. their debut record “all these heavy things” sounds like what might happen if jenny lewis and tom delonge spent a few weeks in the studio together. it’s six tracks of lightly soaring, spacey pop rock that’s probably perfect for late night drives and slightly heavy cuddling. shelly rollison’s vocals are squeaky clean and folkified, delivered with just the right amount of effort. usinger’s guitars provide a nice counter; a blend of indie rock melodies, pop punk octaves and classically beautiful emo-style chord arpeggiations. the lyrics are poetic and nicely woven into loose yet well written melodies. all this is tied together by the ever tasteful engineering of matt wilcox, who produced one of my very favorite records of last year, american tomahawk’s “so, so slowly”. this record might have been an instant bore without his incredible ear for pads and effects, mainly the lush reverbs that surround everything but the drums.
my only complaint about this thing is the lack of dynamics, which falls mostly on the drums. the whole thing seems to hover around a certain level, and when you think a song is about to climax, it just kinda falls back into something a little less redeeming than you’d hope for. i’m sure their lack of balls is intentional, but there were definitely moments where all i wanted to hear was a nice release, with big ol’ rock drums instead of timid jazz ones. like any work of art though, it’s gotta be paired with the right moment. in this case, maybe a dinner with friends or a rainy afternoon on the porch would do it justice. i feel the same way about real estate (the band); it’s background music for beautiful moments.
grab it for super cheap on bandcamp, and hopefully they’ll play some shows soon.