Intimate, back porch folk tunes make up The Ashes‘ Photoplay Music, the success of which relies heavily on the goodwill engendered by the hushed vocals of lead singer and mastermind Shane Vidaurri. If you’re down for a gentler, folkier take on Daniel Johnston, you’ll love the mood created by Vidaurri and co. The length may get you (16 songs over 46 minutes), but you’ll be enthralled for at least the first third. If you’re not into childlike vocals, then you’ll want to pass on this one.
Depression State Troopers, who are labelmates with The Ashes on Mint 400 Records, recorded a similar album in The Reason for the Fall. The back-porch intimacy is there, but these tunes have a bit more meat on their bones. Tunes like “I Love You Like the Night Loves the Moon” are fully fleshed out (in this particular case, with violin, piano, drums, bass and background vox), sticking in memory easily. “Best Time to Die” creates a haunting atmosphere with rumbling toms and grumbling low background vocals, while “In Time (Everything Will Be Alright)” features an accordion and a timeless feel. Recommended for those who thought Bon Iver was a bit too whiny.