Do you remember a time when troubadour-like bands would play light, happy songs that you could picture them performing for twenty people on a beach at night-time? Can you see seven band members singing joyous harmonies, playing acoustic guitars, tambourines and other percussive instruments with complete earnestness? Close your eyes and picture it. I’ll wait.
Can you see it? Can you remember it? AgesandAges does. The septet from Portland, OR released Alright You Restless, this decade’s answer to every Mamas and the Papas album. They, along with other bands, are helping to transform 2011 into the year of indie folk. Their take on the genre is an acquired taste, like lavender candy. What AgesandAges brings to scene are heartfelt harmonies and layered vocals between the men and women in the band. The choruses are punctuated by the gospels of the Church of Pacific Northwestern Music. Heavily strummed chords on an acoustic guitar along with matching, almost tribal, percussive beats, accompanied by clapping, paint the canvas that is these cheerful tracks laid out before the listener.
While a fun listen that has me programming it into my summer driving mix, I can’t help but pick up on other musicians’ music seeping into AgesandAges’ Alright You Restless. Tim Perry sounds a little too Jack White-like when not harmonizing with his band mates, especially on the opening track, “No Nostalgia.” “Tap On Your Windowpane” starts out a little too Panic at the Disco with its violin-picking intro. “The Peaks” starts out reminiscent of “Doing Fine” by The Heavy and then transitions into 60s-style harmonies. “Souvenir” is like the little brother to Titus Andronicus’ “Four Score and Seven.” You know; the precocious one who received more attention from his parents after they decided to start trying harder at raising their children better.
I don’t know if any of these musicians had any influence on AgesandAges. If you take every music note that has been played and extrapolate it out since the beginning of time, everything has been played over and over again. My point is that a large portion of the AgesandAges catalog reminds me of other things in my music library. I spend a lot of time thinking of who they sound like and not the brightness of the ten tracks on the album.
Whether unique or not, this Alright You Restless is worth your time and attention if you enjoy folk music on any level. If that is not your scene, you will find anything here to your liking. If it is, then pick up this album and get lost in the harmonies.
I hope those harmonies evolve into a more unique sound in their future.