Saturday, July 16, 2016

Self Titled Album by Seldom Family Is Dreamy, Cool, Deeply Earnest and Oh So Moody - A MUST HEAR

Two man indie outfit Seldom Family (Patrick Norris: vocals, guitar and Chris Caulder: drums, bass, guitar, lap steel) out of Pennsylvania just released their self titled full length. Their musical / emotional aesthetic screams deep introspective lyrics, tortured singing pushed through this airy reverb laden filter blending noise rock, surf punk, sock hop punk and art rock all at a mostly mid-tempo to slow pace. It is dreamy and oh so moody.

White Eyes with it's almost 1950's line dance down beat sways in this elegant way with Patrick Norris' croons in the distance. The pearly guitar line are just plain delicious set against the sad bass and drum lines. Like a lot of Seldom Family's songs White Eyes is deceptive. It feels chill and cool and transforms into something deeply moving. Speedway with it coy stops and starts feels like a movie in and of itself. Something about it, maybe it is the heavy tom tom beats and spartan guitar lines, feels very 80's alt rock. Very cool. When the finger snaps and whistling happens you realize the brilliance of Seldom Family. This song is James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Interpol, the Cult, The Buttertones and Pink Floyd all smooshed together.

The third track True Blue is hands down the song that speaks to me in a big way. In an album full of unique emotional songs this one is my favorite. The sheer intensity of the melodies and the way it shifts tones is dramatic and beautiful. There is a rather long musical break that traverses it's emotional melody lines in a way that makes me think of Radiohead. The Dogs and Mine Forever, Mine Alone were originally released on Cassette #1 a while back and sonically feel right here. On The Dogs, Norris croons with a wounded passion as the bass with a plodding cadence seems to follow behind. The jangling guitar and almost muted drums that explode from time to time add to the torrid affair. It is a song that is as dark as it is sad and as sad as it is passionate. On Mine Forever, Mine Alone the emotional subtext lies more in the rhythm guitar strumming than the kind of sparse guitar lines in the other tracks. I love the way the guitar sounds swell.

Not a Singer in some ways feels less emotionally wrought than the other songs but it also feels like the kind of song that might speak to the most people. The kind of song that starry eyed kids would want to cover on You Tube. The finals track, It's Never Needless, from the very beginning has this epic love ballad tone. It's is pure unadulterated mid 60's torture sock hop stuff but the absolutely wonderful thing about it is that Norris and Caulder don't take any sort of campy approach but instead embrace the aesthetic, the pure sound head on and the result from the Silvertone spring reverb to the tamborine is deeply moving. It might even push out goosebumps out on your skin when Norris hits the high falsetto like it did to me.

In the end, Seldom Family is a work of art that I hope gets widespread attention. Apart from it just being a great album, Norris and Caulder's take on their sound feels deeply earnest. The emotional tone coupled with the darkly emotional sounds on this album cast so much imagery in your brain that any director would benefit from using some of this evocative stuff in their art. I am quickly becoming addicted to Robert Kirkman's "Outcast" and I could see a track like The Dogs or even It's Never Needless on an episode as a emotional counterpoint to the deeply disturbing narrative.

Do yourself a big favor and check out Seldom Family's self titled album and as always, if you love and appreciate what they do then support these guys with a kind word and buy their stuff. American Pancake is all about supporting great art.

Robb Donker

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