A week or two ago, a friend handed me a manilla envelope at a show. “Just some local bands I think you’ll enjoy,” he explained. Inside that unassuming manilla envelope were two CDs, one of them being Milwaukee trio Soul Low‘s debut album, UNEASY. Since that exchange, the album has taken up permanent residency in my car’s CD player.
Soul Low’s debut album is dynamic and engaging. The creative minds behind Soul Low have a wonderful grasp on creating an overarching mood and atmosphere. With each listen, I feel Soul Low pushing and pulling on my experience with it; the mood eventually collects and climaxes in album closer, “Point Place”, with a collision of guitar, funky bass lines, and cymbals.
To pinpoint a single genre for UNEASY is difficult. Coming from a myriad of influences, the album explores multiple musical styles and blends them effortlessly. It bounces from surf rock jams to delicate folk to jangly indie rock while still maintaining a cohesive sound. The album is peppered with flourishes of brass- unexpected but fitting and distributed thoughtfully.
One track definitely worth checking out is their gypsy punk rocker, “Sitting by the Fire”. Filled with bouncy bass lines and saxophone accents, the song builds to a scream-a-long chorus about 45 seconds in. A bad ass saxophone solo wraps the song up in the best way possible, before one lonely vocal line trails off into the next track.
“Wake Up Pains” comes in at a close second to “Sitting by the Fire”. This solid indie rock track has catchy bass lines and an infectious beat. It makes steering wheel drumming almost impossible to resist. Quite possibly the best part of this song is when Soul Low lets go of all restraint and shouts the chorus. It’s almost too perfect, and I have to force myself not to hit repeat.
As I began drawing comparisons to Foster the People, Modest Mouse, and Grizzly Bear, I simply had to stop myself. Soul Low’s music is definitely eclectic; I mentioned a myriad of influences above, but I think it’s unfair to compare this album to any one artist. Soul Low has truly used their musical inspiration as a spring board to create a sound all their own.
There’s something for everyone on UNEASY. Plain and simple, it’s a damn good debut.
I’m so absolutely enamored with this album, I’ve arranged a giveaway with the generous folks in Soul Low. Enter to win a copy of their album, UNEASY, by letting us know your favorite track off the album. Comment below. We will pick a winner (living in the continental US) at random on September 14, 2013, and send it off to enjoy. Good luck, we’re looking forward to reading them! (UPDATE: A winner has been chosen!)
September 7 at Coughy House in Beloit, WI
September 15 at Borg Ward Collective in Milwaukee, WI
September 18 at Denim Park in Milwaukee, WI
September 21 at Bay View Bash North Stage in Milwaukee, WI
October 5 at The Hotel Foster in Milwaukee, WI