Dark, heavy, thoughtful, emotional, sweeping, beautiful, and edgy are among the many adjectives that could be used to describe the songs that comprise O'Brother's debut album, Garden Window. There is a certain unpredictability in each song that captures the essence of Garden Window. Life is unpredictable, and can be full of many twists and turns as we search for ourselves and our beliefs. It is clear that past and present influences are an important inspiration for O'Brother's construction of Garden Window. While maintaining a constant search for answers to their own theology, they also make no effort to hide the musical influences that helped shape this album. To just name a few, the sounds of Radiohead, Tool, Blonde Redhead, the Deftones, and Converge resonate from Garden Window. Co-producers, Andy Hull and Robert McDowell from Manchester Orchestra, also add some of their own signature sound to this album, most evident in "Sputnik", in which Hull has guest vocals.
Garden Window really demands your attention right from the start. I typically can work while listening to music in the background, but I was constantly distracted as I listened to this album. There is definitely a lot to take in. The tracks that really stand out are "Malum", "Easy Talk (Open Your Mouth)", "Cleanse Me", and "Last Breath". The solid rocker, "Lay Down", will also most likely be a fan favorite. "Malum" opens the album with a heavy intensity, the distortion almost at the edge of dissonance, only to immediately transition to clean vocals and guitars at the start of "Lo". This really set the mood for the rest of the album and instantly grabbed my attention. "Easy Talk", on the other hand, takes things down a notch with some absolutely beautiful layering. "Cleanse Me" is one of the most harrowing tracks on the album. Starting with a heavy crescendo, the song suddenly turns to a clean ambience only to revert back to the distortion at the end. Note also, that this song has a runtime of fourteen minutes. To keep the listener captivated over such a long period is quite the feat in itself. "Last Breath" ends the album with a beautiful polar opposite to the distortion that started the album.
O'Brother have really begun to make a name for themselves, having toured with the likes of Thrice, The Dear Hunter, and Manchester Orchestra. Their debut album will only increase their rise above the multitude of rock bands. With such a solid debut, it will be exciting to see what these guys will produce as they further refine their sound.
Definitely check it out!