This band's press release was met with derision here at EvilSponge HQ. Specifically, it refers to the album as "a throwback to earlier indie rock, at times channeling The Shins, Nada Surf, old school Radiohead and others". Wait -- none of those bands are "early" Indie Rock. What -- do these yutzes think that the 1980s never happened? I did not mis-spend my high school years hanging out at R.E.M. concerts (their first 5 albums were released on indie label I.R.S. after all) just for these kids from Tennessee to think the world begins with the freaking Shins!
So we were annoyed.
But i downloaded the promo and listened to it anyway. And, well, it's actually decent. The Standstill is the current project of Knoxvillan Jeff Maynard, here playing with a quartet of Nashville session musicians.
The production is a little flat, with the guitar layers dull and the voice way out front... That said, there is something here. Maynard has a way with words, and the musicians he has put together can write a catchy melody. However, this really would have benefitted from better production.
There is about 46 minutes of music here, and there are no bad songs. They all meander in a toe-tapping, kind of lo-fi pace. But a few stand out from the pack.
On A Blind Eye Maynard appears to be trying too hard to emote, just drawing out the notes, which gets really annoying given the in-your-face vocal recording style. The drumming is flat and tinny, and the guitars jangle nicely. But then the Christine Hale comes in, adding a nice soulful counter vocal, which really makes the whole song come together. Hale's presence makes this song work.
Hale is featured on Derealization as well. This song starts slowly, Maynard and Hale dueting nicely. Then halfway through, a nice martial beat comes in, and the song meanders, tensely, and you can just feel the beat and the vocals and the noodling guitars all building, inexorably, to a cathartic release. It swells up, the voices moaning as the drums pound and the guitars hammer away. The song is almost seven minutes long, and the last two are just the band hammering away. And it ends the album on a strong, cathartic jam. It wraps the whole record up nicely.
The band does a fairly faithful cover of The Pixies Where Is My Mind?, with Kenny Gilbert doing a great Joey Santiago impersonation.
I Donít Live Here is a pleasant lo-fi pop tune to which the band add in some flute as Maynard wails away at the end. Endless Winter is another good tune, a nice jaunty beat drives it along. It ends with some high pitched warbling guitar.
It's all nicely done, and catchy. The lo-fi nature of the recording, which manifests in a general sonic flatness, gets annoying. As i listen i keep thinking, "This could be better."
Still, it's decent enough. The band has some talent, and i hope that Maynard and company keep at it.