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Ears & Fingers 6/19/14

by Jason Leger

The Antlers—Familiars
“When Heaven has a line around the corner, we shouldn’t have to wait around and hope to get in.” This line is from the opening track on “Familiars,” the fifth studio album from the dramatic Brooklyn indie rock outfit The Antlers. I use the word ‘dramatic’ because there isn’t a simple way to categorize a band like The Antlers. They can create an atmosphere in the vein of post-rock, exude moodiness a-la emo, and underlie compositions that would fit in a jazz club environment. As fitting as all of these descriptions are, branding the band as any one would never do them justice.

The Antlers gained attention with their 2009 album “Hospice,” which is a concept album that details the emotional struggle of a hospice employee who falls in love with a dying patient. To this day, “Hospice” is one of the most beautifully and emotionally devastating pieces of work I’ve ever heard. 2011’s “Burst Apart” shared a similar air with its predecessor and was equally emotive, while not having the same end game or directness.

Taking into account the heaviness of the previous two releases, “Familiars” is a breath—almost a gasp—of fresh air. The music is warm and organic, balancing between utter ambience, mellow indie and borderline jazz. The themes this time around however, are what make “Familiars” much more of an open door album. The subjects of eternity, happiness, peace, comfort and self-examination are broached throughout the nearly hour-long album, making it something the band themselves call “earned relief.” Singer Pete Silberman explores much more than just his peaceful end on this album. He is known for his ability to jump from a melancholy whisper to a pained cry in an instant and use a great bit of falsetto, but “Familiars” finds him mostly opting to drag a lower end of his range making for dramatic peaks and valleys. If you’re unfamiliar with The Antlers up to this point, I think they have given you a shallow end to dip your toe in with this new LP. It’s one that exemplifies everything that makes them an outstanding band, but won’t necessarily drain you emotionally. “Familiars” is out now via Anti- Records.

If You Haven’t Heard: The Orwells
When I was in my late teens, most of my time was spent daydreaming about being in a band and touring the world and meeting lots of beautiful women. The emphasis there is on ‘daydreaming,’ since I didn’t really take many steps toward making that a reality. On the other hand, Chicago punks The Orwells have taken it upon themselves to make their late teens something to remember. Their brash brand of melodic rock has caught plenty of attention this year so far, and with a couple of now infamous Letterman visits, notoriously wild live shows, and the lifestyle of, well, boys in their hormonal years, the band is forging quite a reputation for itself. Their major label debut “Disgraceland” was released earlier this month and has garnered wide comparisons to The Replacements and The Strokes, albeit for a new generation. Catch the hype, y’all. “Disgraceland” is out now via Atlantic/Canvasback Records.

Track of the Week: Dear Desert-Give It Up
I’m a real sucker for hazy synth-pop, so when I stumbled on Dear Desert’s debut single ‘Give it Up’ last week, it occupied the entirety of my afternoon. Peaceful and catchy with just a hint of melancholy, this first taste from the Dublin trio is hopefully a sign of much more to come. Check out “Give it Up” on the band’s Soundcloud page.