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Quick Hits: Falcon Tower / Arwen and the Mega Reset / Liam Kyle Cahill

December 18, 2016

If you missed Falcon Arrow‘s Tower in 2014, you missed a unique post-rock treat. You should go back and jump on that. But if you want to keep up instead, you can start with their new 7″ Cities of Gold, which picks up right where Tower left off.

Falcon Arrow is a drums/bass duo, but with a twist: their bassist is armed with a variety of loop and tone pedals that dramatically modify the bass sound and create unique, patterned structures for the songs. The tunes chug along at a pretty healthy, heavy rate: they’re not afraid to distort the bass and hammer away on the drums. (They’re closer to Russian Circles than they are to Lights and Motion, let’s say.)

The biggest trick in the Falcon Arrow book is an octave pedal that allows for treble melodies to zing around over the bass-heavy backdrop; even though all the notes are created on the bass guitar, the diversity of tones, sounds, and octave range is impressive. The tunes here all have their own distinct charms, if you’ve made it past the shock of listening to Falcon Arrow for the first time; I’m particularly fond of the punk-rock charge of “Add “Project”: to Any Word.” If you’re into blasting, thundering, powerful post-rock, then Falcon Arrow will be fully in your corner.

Arwen and the Mega Reset‘s Arcadia Street Sessions Vol. II EP shows off a band that’s got a lot going for it. The quartet has an indie-rock sound that falls between the dreamy oceans of Braids and the driving alt-pop of Lake Street Dive, powered in large part by the keys and vocals of Arwen Fonzen.

Fonzen’s powerful pipes direct the mood of the songs, whether in the hazy “kid.”, the slow-building “Prophet,” or the slo-mo funk of the high-drama tune “Potholes.” She can sing even-handedly (“kid.”), roar (“Prophet”), or even go full diva (“Potholes”). I’ve covered the fantastic “kid.” before on Independent Clauses, and it’s still fantastic–it creates its own space in the indie-rock world. The latter two songs of the set are fun to listen to as well, but neither stamp their mark as firmly as “kid.” That doesn’t mean there isn’t a mark there, because there totally is. I look forward to seeing what Arwen and the Mega Reset come up with next.

Liam Kyle Cahill‘s Four Leaf Clover is a chipper, fun acoustic-based release that falls somewhere between modern folk-pop and Dave Matthews Band-style acoustic jam vibes. The folk influences come from his troubadour background (he’s constantly on the road; 150+ shows a year), while the DMB sound comes in from his backing band: tastefully, classy drumming with an emphasis on hand-drumming meets a jazzy violin and big, round bass guitar sound.

The results are playful at times (“Take the Pictures Down,” “Four Leaf Clover”) and somber at others (“Save You,” “Berney Song”). Cahill’s smooth, earnest voice leads the way through the arrangements, although he has some help from female backing vocalists to round out the sound. Fans of the Lumineers, alt-pop artists like Matt Nathanson, and the aforementioned DMB will find much to love here.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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