Beer and Pavement


Posted in Records, Review by SM on March 12, 2012

Believers‘ self-titled EP arrived just in time for True/False. It’s been a long time coming, like a whole year, but Believers finally have that tangible document of their struggles over their short run. It was at last year’s True/False that the band first entered the collective CoMo conscience. Now, there is a record with their name and recordings on it awaiting turntables all over Middle Missouri.

The songs on this new EP, funded by the generosity of true believers via a Kickstarter initiative, have become familiar to those who have been lucky enough to catch the ensemble around town. We’re now familiar with the percussive core, sampled bird songs, and the crooning that characterizes a Believers set. Additionally, those who have seen them in-person know of the energy they bring as normally-reserved CoMo crowds find the dancer within and shake what their mothers have given them in celebration of what these boys have crafted.

So, how about those songs?

Splashing water opens as the infectious basslines of “Sleeves” kick in just before a blast of guitar that carry enough power to almost resemble horns. The quiet-loud dynamic is in full-effect for this track and it’s used to its fullest potential. The space between bombasts and the build to a climax have the listener dancing as is the custom at Believers shows, anticipating the rest of the EP to follow. “You can’t ignore what’s going on all around you,” singer/guitarist Wesley Powell offers, “along the shore, such heavy progress.” Imagine the sun rising over a clear Missouri River at Cooper’s Landing just before a day of fun on the Big Muddy. Powell’s declaration rings true as this EP gets off to an impressive start.

A few sounds in this town are as commonplace in CoMo as the opening caws at the beginning of “Forward Forward Back”. At this point in the recording, I’m just ready to see Believers live again. The rhythmic trajectory of the song and it’s request “Won’t you dance with me?” causes once again what is typically unthinkable in this town: dancing. The chorus even provides some instruction that suggests forward movement with a bit of youthful caution.

“Far From Home” is the sleepy track that hints at the sacrifices the band has made to get to this point where they now have a record in-hand and a year of playing behind them with an eye to possibilities ahead. We’ll see what happens, but this song is sadder than you think as – like with every song on this EP – it just makes you want to dance. Still, the picture painted is somewhat dire as one huddles in a cardboard box, wishing to just be home.

“Finder” is the rare song that speaks both to those who long to love and those who have loved. We all at some point want to find someone or remember what it was like to find the one we’re with. This song captures that feeling perfectly. Additionally, it imitates that feeling of your heart pounding so hard that it makes that heart-shaped imprint on our chests like on those old cartoons when the intoxicating smell or sweet curves of “the one” passes by. There’s a real longing in this song, but it feels hopeful, almost encouraging. Even for cynics out there, this song will speak to you.

“Wandering” is the second-t0-last track. Over another infectious groove provided by bassist Travis Boots floats some spacey keyboards. The track displays a subtlety not always prevalent as the band often goes for whatever will move the crowd. (There’s nothing wrong with this.) Dreamy guitar strumming, ghostly vocals, and some well-placed horns make for a nice song to play when looking forward to summer nights on the porch.

The dreaminess of “Wandering” is balanced with some steady dance beats and that familiar Powell croon with “In the Water”. Then, the song breaks into what is one of the more powerful songs of a Believers set. The two-headed drumming tandem of  Taylor Bacon and Pete Hansen beat the skins like there’s no tomorrow, inducing that now-natural sense to dance. (I know, in Columbia of all places!) There’s more of that quiet-loud dynamic the kids love so much. Sadly, this is where the EP ends, leaving the listener wanting more. As is true for most EP’s, the band’s best tracks made the cut and give a great taste of what they can provide in full-length albums (hopefully) to come.

At this point, I’ve failed to mention the other Powell brother, Tyler. His musicality and ease of playing comes through on these recordings. He fills space where the drums rest between beats and often carries songs where needed. The brothers Powell are certainly a strong duo and they’ve put together a solid rhythm section to carry their vision with this EP as proof.

Again, this record if filled with longing and hopefulness. It’s the kind of feeling that occurs at that first terror twilight of the summer. That moment when the possibilities of the summer ahead causes you  to hold your breath. All the worries and unfinished projects of the past winter have slowly melted away. Spring brings with it new life and summer warms us and urges us to come from out of our hiding places. The terror caused at dawn is off-putting at first, but you are comforted by the fact that it will pass and tomorrow will be a beautiful day. A record like Believers is the record you play at that very moment.

Then, you dance.

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  1. […] The music reviews have gone well… for the most part anyway. I’m pretty happy with the Believers review I just wrote. There was a pretty good Walkmen review I wrote a while back. Honestly, the music […]

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