Nashville-based ALL THEM WITCHES have always had an egalitarian approach to songwriting; everyone in the band dropping something into the collective consciousness, before the group comes together to mould the finished product. While there hasn’t been a radical change for Sleeping Through The War, a little more preparation has been put into the album and the end result is a more focussed, pithy collection of tunes, which nonetheless sound like they’ve been recorded by eight different bands.
It feels almost flippant to suggest that Bulls sounds like THE FLAMING LIPS, but that is indeed the case. It sets the tone for an album which frontman Charles Michael Parks jr confesses is meant as a comment on mankind becoming ever more insular.. Bulls takes a number of listens to reveal its inner workings. At around the two minute mark there’s a portentous bell sound, before a series of staccato squelches, possibly intended to mimic the sound of gunfire, lead into the soothing tones of the choir invisible. Six minutes of song with an album’s worth of meaning.
If Bulls is concerned with the bigger picture, Don’t Bring Me Coffee has a more personal, introspective feel. Sonically ALL THEM WITCHES have stepped firmly into Seattle’s grunge heyday with this one, with a few words of world-weary defiance leading into a sea of squally feedback. I’m sure Mark Lanegan and his former SCREAMING TREES bandmates would approve.
Bruce Lee, for which ALL THEM WITCHES have recorded a video, is another inward-looking ditty, all fuzzy guitars and psychedelic flourishes. 3-5-7 brooding thing of beauty; deceptively simple sounding, yet effortlessly conjoining a myriad of disparate influences. To these ears it’s the most intriguing song that ALL THEM WITCHES have recorded to date all will no doubt keep revealing more of its inner charms on future listens for months to come.
Am I Going Up? is built around a simple, shimmering riff, periodically punctuated with blasts of feedback. For a band with such a democratic way of songwriting, Am I Going Up? sounds very much like one person’s attempt to reconcile their own worth with the world at large. Alabaster is the trippiest track on Sleeping Through The War and unlike the two tracks that precede it, uses a series of observations to muse upon the world at large. Cowboy Kirk is a piece of scuzzy, lowlife blues. Internet sounds even more like it was recorded in a swamp somewhere near the Mississippi. Lyrically it takes a similar worldview to Paraguay from IGGY POP’s 2016 album Post Pop Depression, but uses a more reflective lexicon to make it’s point.
Sleeping through the war has enough melody to make it instantly accessible, but has more than enough depth to reveal greater depths with each subsequent listen. That has to be a good thing.
Sleeping Through The War is set for release on February 24th via New West Records.
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