Horsehead - “God Damned the Rain to Fall”
Horsehead - Sympathetic Vibrations Review
Sounds of RVA got our hands on, figuratively speaking, the brand new Horsehead album called Sympathetic Vibrations. Take the best of Steve Earle and Tom Petty, and you might come close to these Vibrations. “Moving Target” opens the album with an earnest acoustic guitar and solemn, soulful vocals (Jon C. Brown). “You are a dancer with no signature step,” is but one of the burns he doles out in this deceptively sweet sound. “Darkened Streets” gets the whole band into gear in this second, uplifting song. Alt-country guitars and a medium pace get at least part of you moving.
You may have already heard the previously-released “Emptiest Arms in the World” (which has a Willie Nelson-like descriptive title). The rhythm is upbeat and the song channels Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The album was engineered at Snake Oil Recording with Dan Deckleman following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The 4th album from the band shows maturity in songwriting and arrangements. Horsehead also brought a couple of outside musicians to put some finishing touches on the mixes. For instance, Jay Gonzalez of Drive-By Truckers played piano on some tracks, and Travis Rinehart of Jackass Flats added banjo on Sounds of RVA’s favorite track, “God Damned the Rain to Fall.”
Kevin Wade Inge (guitar) also has been in charge of adding steel guitar to this and the last album, Before the Bright Lights. The difference this time is that Inge plays the steel himself rather than outsourcing. Learning this new skill also afforded Inge some extra room in the studio to experiment. Some of the songs were being written as they were recorded, so the tone is very present and vivid.
Check out “Big Sun” for an alt-country “Althea” (Grateful Dead); the wandering lover can’t stay in one place for too long. The vocal harmonies go in unexpected directions, and that off-kilter tension makes the song that much more exciting.
Also, the longtime drummer (Andre LaBelle) called it quits midway through recording, but you’d never notice the change (to Gregg Brooks). Sympathetic Vibrations will be out November 13th, PLUS
Catch Horsehead’s CD Release show @ Gallery 5 on Saturday, 11/10 with Grease Trigger and Matt Conner. 8 pm, $7.
photo by Sounds of RVA