Halsted – Life Underwater

January 01, 1970

(Ashbury
Records)

 

www.ashburyrecords.com

 

This
band is led by San Francisco
musician Ryan Auffenberg who has at least one solo record (maybe more?), 2008’s
Marigolds, that is worth hearing. This band, however, is certainly a
step up.  The songwriting is better, it is obvious that Auffenberg took
the time to write melodies that really stick out and thus, the whole thing
sounds a lot more confident than MARIGOLDS and is a pleasant surprise for 2010.
In the liner notes Auffenberg said he considered Life Underwater, which
was recorded in an old Victoria house in San Francisco , “the most dynamic,
sweeping and ambitious record I’ve ever made.”

 

The
first song, “Cast No Shadow”, won’t inspire backflips but the next tune, the
jangly “Walking Shoes” certainly will with its perfect six-string strumming and
galloping rhythms. Same with the climbing “Rising Tide” and the more downbeat
“White Hot City Lights’ is an understated gem (as is the terrific “Knock on
Wood” and “Toy Soldiers”). “Sellout” is a bouncy piano pop tune and “Cabaret”
glides along at a near-perfect pace with a heartfelt delivery. Since the record
was written during a particularly difficult time for Auffenberg he stated that
his goal was “to create an unwavering statement of hope” (I’m paraphrasing
here) and that he hopes the record “makes you wanna drive just a little bit
faster.” It did Ryan, well done.

 

Standout Tracks: “Walking Shoes”, “Rising Tide”, “Cabaret”, “Sellout”
TIM HINELY

 

 

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