Type: Of Writing/Of Violence
This is the kind of album that CD listening stations are made for. If I happened to listen to this one at a Tower Records booth, I wouldn’t get all irritated realizing that the CD player had no fast forward function on it. I wouldn’t need to scan for highlights in this case, because the first song “Kneel” would immediately draw me in with its violins, hypnotic guitar lines, and soft vocals that fit the brooding mood of the song perfectly. Think of an even cross between Arab Strap and Bright Eyes, with a mood that’s a bit distinct from both. The violin first sparked up some memories of the dark atmosphere of Arab Strap’s recent output. There are none of Conor Oberst self-deprecating lyrics here, but there is some of his vocal style to make you feel like The Silent Type’s singer Nathan Altice is conversing with you or telling you a story. Around minute six of “Kneel” we get a pretty heavy breakdown that is again reminiscent of Arab Strap, but rather than just a fuzzy guitar with distortion, there is an elegantly layered finale with multiple instruments that I’m not quite clever enough to properly identify.
The Silent Type is a five-piece band from Richmond, VA and it’s a pretty nice treat to hear local bands with this much talent. Maura Davis, previously of Denali and most recently of Bella Lea, adds a few guest vocals, but she’s just one of eleven musicians from the Richmond area that seem to have contributed to this recording. This album has harp, Wurlitzer, pedal steel, viola, banjo, cello, and a lot of nice guitar, too; so it’s easy to see that this is no half-ass production job.
Of Writing/Of Violence is the kind of album in which you can’t tell which tracks you like best when you listen to it the first few times, because each song takes you somewhere else and you’re usually quite happy to be there. “Vacant Hotel Lobby” has a simpler structure. Essentially, it’s an acoustic guitar piece that feels as cozy as any track by Death Cab for Cutie. In fact, the middle of the LP continues in more of this fashion for a few songs, but the instruments get mixed around into different arrangements for every song, so you never begin to lose interest. There’s even an energetic rock song in the form of “The Gift,” which opens with some heavy acoustic riffing and crashing cymbals.
The intricately arranged music on this album shines through any trendy classifications you could lump this band into, but I for one will be keeping an eye out for any shows they play in 2006. The Silent Type may not be on any Tower Records listening stations just yet, but hunt down an MP3 at the Limekiln Records web site, and find out how good this music is.
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