The Upshot: Richness and nuance in its idiosyncrasies and gentle obliqueness, it’s a record of gorgeous dreampop and more.
BY FRED MILLS
Carrboro, NC, indie stalwarts Some Army initially served up a 7” and a mini-album a few years ago, with the latter self-titled effort prompting yours truly to enthuse over their part-cosmic Americana, part-shoegazey dreampop. Since then the band—headed up by singer/guitarist Russell Baggett’s urgent vocals, powered by Patrick O’Neill and Elysse Miller on keyboards and guitars, and wholly grounded by the rhythm section of drummer Brad Porter and bassist Joe Caparra—has undergone a series of logistical and psychic changes, not the least of which was abandoning plans for cutting a new record entirely at Mitch Easter’s storied Fidelitorium studio and instead weaving in fresh material from sundry other sources as opportunities arose. (For example, some songs were completed in domestic residences and storage facilities.) Ultimately, as the press sheet accompanying the record explains, Some Army wound up with a “pastiche of hi- and lo-fi,” and to these ears, the term “pastiche” is no pejorative—it’s a badge of honor.
Let’s jump to the 7th track (out of 9 total) on the record first: “Crickets” is a gorgeously rendered, waltz-time delight, and with its tumbling piano, weeping guitars, textural synth, and Baggett’s spoke/sang vocals, it carries an emotional oomph that helps define this record as a document of ideals. Indeed, if you then scan back over what’s come before—check, in particular, the soaring My Morning Jacket-esque “Fever,” the thrumming, psychedelic anthemism of “Infinite Mirror,” the moonlit meditation and dreamy reverie of “Disorder”—one gets the sense of a collective search for something indefinable, something just beyond the horizon, for these musicians. With closing track “You Can Keep It,” amid gospellish harmony vocals and thickly droning keyboards and guitars, they seem to come to an uneasy peace, the kind that characters at the end of a movie sometimes reach following a protracted struggle for mutual understanding.
One Stone and Too Many Birds, though, is hardly inconclusive; instead, it’s got richness and nuance in its idiosyncrasies and gentle obliqueness. Think of it as the closing of one chapter and the start of a new one for a band that I’m already on the record as saying it shows great promise. This time around, let’s call it “promise fulfilled,” with even more en route.
DOWNLOAD: “”Disorder,” “Crickets,” “You Can Keep It”