Review ·

My
roommate Alan has this incomprehensible ability to stumble into good
things, a trait that has allowed him many of the luxuries in his life.
Without getting too far into this quality, we'll leave it that he
picked Cities' self-titled debut out of a cart of newly released
records a few weeks back without any previous knowledge of this band or
its label, Yep Roc. And it wasn't long before we were both sold on the
band. The members of Cities have put their best foot forward with this
debut.

[more:]

 

At
first listen, I was reminded of a night a few years back when I was
living in Stockholm. My former roommate Daniel and I were on at least
our second bottle of red wine while listening to Denali
 in
the Swedish late-summer evenings. As effortlessly as conversations flow
between two decently inebriated friends, Cities is able to overcome
barriers between genres. Imagine verses similar to the evocative
efforts of Engine Down
or Denali with choruses and endings as powerful as those on the new I
Love You But I've Chosen Darkness record. Then add a twist of Brit-rock
sensibility and a finishing splash of Interpol's songwriting ability and we're starting to come close to the sounds on Cities.

 

But this is very much an American product; there are no faux-British accents. Josh Nowlan's voice
finds itself amongst the harmonic landscape of Cities, probably most
evident in the final minutes of "Cons, Thieves & Murderers" or
throughout "Ooc," where, as a friend put it, he sounds like a male
version of Maura Davis from Denali.
Finally,
I've found a record that I can recommend to my friends who hold tightly
to the American indie-rock sound exemplified by bands such as Archers of Loaf,
No Knife, and the Appleseed Cast as well as those who enjoy the recent
explosion of talented British bands such as the Departure, Longview and
South.

 

The
fact that the songwriters are quite young and that this is their first
full-length speaks volumes for the road they've started down. The first
week I listened to Cities, "Cons, Thieves &
Murderers" and "Writing on the Wall" both found their way into my elite
top-thirty songs played on my iTunes.

 

The songs on Cities are
not all down-tempo, but there is always a haunting aspect to Cities'
music -- which is what solidifies this record as very much a part of
the recovery of American indie rock. Few British bands are haunting in
the same way, but comparisons with I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
and other aforementioned American bands come easily. In the way that
many authors are inspired by foreign writers, those that make any
impact combine outside influences with native influences and their own
interpretation.

 

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