Top positive review
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Small time band, big time album
on April 20, 2011
This is a small time band from Denton, TX barely off the ground (playing a Central Market tomorrow night!). But, you wouldn't be able to tell their under-the-radar status from this album. They've also been picked up by local public radio (KKXT) and are a standard in their playlist.
As far as the music, the album is throughly well produced, and the samples will give you a good idea over whether you will like it or not. One thing to note is that some of these tracks become slightly distorted in the louder bits, but it's not typically too distracting. Be forewarned that this is a dreary album in mood, but as folk music goes, that is common. Expect Dispatch or even Beirut style tight vocal harmonies with a constantly driving, building intensity through each song. Also, many of their songs follow a similar pattern - start slow, switch in the middle, and drop the floor out of the sound at the end. But, if it works for Snow Patrol, why not Seryn?
So Within - This song begins very, very slow. Not my favorite, but it picks up halfway through for a strong finish.
Of Ded Moroz - Mixing sand-between-toes instrumentation with some of the best vocals on the album, Of Ded Moroz slips some Eastern European spicing to the front end of This Is Where We Are. Shockingly good song - this was not the album seller for me as I simply did not expect this one to be as good as it is.
Beach Song - If you're beginning to pick up on the pattern here, this song begins slowly, again. We finally get a little bit of different instrumentation with some light electric piano and possibly harpsichord undertones and others tossed in. Once the beat drops in place, a good two minutes in, the payoff begins. With different instrumentation, this could pass as a downtempo electronic song - in a good way. This seems like a banjo player showcase, but he simply deserves it. If you disagree, go listen to Untitled. As the layers build, a full sound begins to emerge for a climatic resolution to a great track.
We Will All Be Changed - This is the single and the undisputed standout track of the whole record - anthemic with echos of Arcade Fire. Get big speakers.
Towering - Hits the standard pattern of the rest of the album - starts as slow but as pretty as glass to pick up with the rhythm guitar halfway through. Good, if you liked everything else earlier in the album.
Our Love - Same pattern as before. The instrumentation in the beginning adds a grit missing from most of the rest of the album. Once the change happens, about halfway through, a gorgeous sound appears. This one is a treat on the back-end. Yes, more of the same, but if it ain't broke...
River Song - Interesting underlying parts for each instrument. It takes their standard pattern, and simply reverses it. Strong beginning with a haunting but not thin ending. This is still a strong track.
Bete Noire - A strong beginning with a (as the name suggests) delightful French theme. There is finally a deviation from the wash, rinse repeat song patterning. Bete Noire is one of the gems of this album.
On My Knees - Stacking folk instrumentation develops into a nearly orchestral sound. Again, you will find the track median split to a quicker and delightfully soundscape-esque ending.
Untitled - Just enjoy the folk banjo. This is one of the shortest and one of the best. A driving and seriously adept banjo gets overlaid on a whimsical rhythm missing from the rest of the album. It's a downright shame this is only 2:46.
Summary: You know what you're getting into. You're either going to love this album and burn out your headphones with it, or you're going to be bored to tears. Their constant, ubiquitous song recipe does in fact make for good song, but too much of a good thing could derail a record. The talent of Seryn is really what This Is Where We Are comes down to. Spot on banjo, vocals, and percussion (as required) changes an album which would be molassi-fying by lesser mortals to an audial treat throughout.