The folk rock/indie pop quintet Schooner shows downy arrangements
reflective of Super Furry Animals and weeping plaintives that can
be classed with Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter and John
Vanderslice. The band's recent album Hold On Too Tight from
54º40' Or Fight Records encapsulates a variety of textures from classic
'50s blues rock hews to bluegrass/zydeco/Creole gusts and alternative
country folk gossamers.
Produced by Zeno Gill (Des Ark, The Rosebuds, Portastatic),
the album displays Reid Johnson's languid vocal streaks and guitar
accoutrements along with his sister, Kathryn Johnson's breezy backup
vocals and keyboard primps. Joining the brother-sister team are drummer
Billy Alphin, bassist Tripp Cox, and backup singer and cellist
Megan Culton. The band also incorporates extra ornamentation from
Thomas Moorefield on pedal steel, Scott Phillips on accordion,
Luke Berchowitz on mandolin, Billy Sugarfix on the theremin,
Mark Lebetkin on viola, Dave Bjorkback on glockenspiel and
The Pox Family Singers lending background vocals. The overall mood
of the album is downbeat and glum with a few shots of perky beats and
romantically sculpted vocals. The band's classic blues rock traits and
soft pop treads recall of '70s folk rockers Bread and modern alternative
folk acts like The Beta Band and The Magnetic Fields.
The album opens with vocal harmonies on the track "Proem" which
leads into alternative country folk gossamers for "Carrboro"
flexing a likeness to the rhythmic timing of Sweden's Shout Out Louds.
Consequently, "Pray For You To Die" continues the lo-fi profusion
with a classic '50s blues rock mistiness reminiscent of The Everly
Brothers. There is a star-gaze feel to Reid's vocals that pave a hollow
reverberation through the soft folk-pop shires of "There's Enough
To Do." The rock rhythms and guitar effects plump up the prologue
of "Tears In Your Ears" and then deflate through the soft flumes
along the canals in the verses. Keyboards dot the drum fills delicately
before everything plumps back up along the chorus parts. The songs drag
with a thoughtful repose like tunes you listen to while sitting on your
porch watching the world go by.
The alternative country folk chords on "Leaving Your Room"
have a downbeat cast and musings in class with Des Ark similar
to the country blues modulations on "Married", carting percussions
and vocals that stroll pensively. The band includes two short pieces of
music - "James Street" and "Alston Avenue" that shroud
the sounds of the street with a host of doleful keyboards. The soft pop
psychedelics of "Ominous Bird" are sensually fluted while the
peppy beats of "They Always Do" and "I Would Tell You That
I'm Stuck" have an alternative folk caramelizing liken to Sparklehorse.
The languid plaintive of "Hospital Floor" contrasts the speedy
bluegrass/zydeco/Creole rhythms of "Strange Alibis" which has
the speed of grind metal with country hues.
The album concludes with the ballad "Ladybug" featuring the
romantic vocal lulls of Reid meditating along a battalion of country folk
grazes. Reid reflects in the lyrics, "I saw you late one night/ My
head was full, my legs were light/ I wished with all my might/ I wished
our veins could give us flight/ And take us above a ladybug in flight."
The downbeat cast of the album has a meditative grazing. The music's
dragging in reposing and mindful and the moments of peppiness create a
lively vibe that is catchy and likeable. The band, who calls Chapel Hill,
North Carolina home, has instilled country hues in their folk rock and
soft pop melodies. The music has a homespun mulch and a domesticated effervescence.
It's music with a heartland coddling and a universal touch that's all
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