Reviews:: Second Story Man - Red Glows Brighten

Second Story Man is a unique band. Based out of Louisville, KY, this four-piece has been around, in some form or another, for almost a ten-spot. TEN YEARS (to quote Jeremy Pivens)! If you use John Darnielle or Jason Molina math, you’d assume that they have about ten records. Instead, the band has gone through some major personnel changes, released two EPs and a solid debut full length that got great reviews (Pins and Needles). Now, they are finally back with a sophomore release, Red Glow Brightens.

As soon as the guitars and drums kick in on the opening track, Mitey Might, you are hard pressed not to think of the New Pornographers. The nice lick and the trading boy/girl vocals really remind me of Mr. Newman and Neko Case (as do the intro vocals on Letter to Be). It’s hard not to nod along to the summery riff of Catalyst, but this band relies less on pop sensibility and much dirtier than the Prons. The songs use countless time changes and all of these thingsreally compliment the bubblegum sweet voice of Carrie Neumayer.

The band touches on a lot of style to keep listeners involved in the project. The aforementioned Let it Be turns into an almost surf rock 60’s pop hit, followed by the organic, ambient sounds of Let Your Dreams Expire. If this was a new band, you might accuse them of trying to find their style, but after a decade of working, you’d be better off saying the band isn’t forcing themselves to a certain crowd or sound. The project is a diverse collection of songs, probably indicative of the time taken to write the songs, but the end result is enjoyable mix of moods, sounds and harmonies.

Cancer Dance is the most enjoyable track on the album, relying on a simple muted plucked riff, a wandering bass line, sparse drums and huge sounding harmonized choruses. The changes on the track are quite severe and might drive away the fan looking for a simple hook they can dance along to, but for someone hoping for more form their music, this track will be a pleasant surprise.

The one negative I have with this release is that the album has only seven tracks and one of those breaks the ten-minute mark. Let Me Start Again is a powerful closer, but rather than have the barely audible feedback for three minutes before jumping into an acoustic ditty, I’d wish they just split the track into two songs, especially since the two tracks are completely different and written for different moods.

MP3:: Cancer Dance

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