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Album Review: The Stonewall Vessels – Through The Weird And Wild

Recently coming off of a one week endeavor through the northeast, The Stonewall Vessels are a young alternative psych-rock group with slight folk hints. They hail from right out of my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the tail end of 2017, they dropped Through The Weird And Wild, a disc that encapsulates all of their growth since formation around 2011. They’ve had two records previously (and one live session recording) that fared decently and sparked plenty of innovative ideas, but this is where I believe the songwriting truly blooms.

Vocalist Darrion Washington has always had a very unique style of singing, and admittedly it does take some time to grow on you. But such a niche sound will work well with the right counterpart, which is provided by dual guitarists Luke Krizner and Josh McNamee. “Circle Of Life” is a solid example of how this comes together so well, achieving the atmosphere by blending gazey, dream-like rhythms with fun and accessible guitar noodles on top. Since the vocals are smeared on in a similar manner to fit the mood, they blend in perfectly.

For the most part, somber and slightly melancholic feelings are captured, which can be easily heard in “Candle Light.” What prevents Through The Weird And Wild from becoming too much of a downer is the slight incline in structure that’s used quite often. One of my personal favorites is “Glass Beach” with the way that it basically resolves itself, starting that climb about halfway through. On the other hand, live staple and album opener “Archers” ups the intensity right from the start which breathes more life into the songs. Powerful drum kicks with Ian Cornele behind the kit (and previously Josh Perry) tie everything together, stepping far outside the boundaries of simple timekeeping.

The only real gripe is that with this much of a leap in quality, it’s bound to overstay its welcome at times. Some trimming wouldn’t hurt, namely with songs like “Rare Earth” that don’t quite hold much in the way of hooks. Though not a bad tune, it fails to capture the same momentum that everything else does. On the contrary, numbers like “Wake Forest” use this to their advantage, and allow bassist Jake Salinger to break through a bit more. Longer, bassy bridges present the most appealing part of this tune, and it ends on a vocal outburst that tends to draw crowd participation in live settings.

Left to right: Ian, Luke, Jake, Darrion, Josh

Those who seek a lot of speed or heavy hitters won’t gain much from this disc (save for the booming riff that introduces “Skeleton Key”). But if you seek a cloudy trip of light grooves that toss in hard rhythms and one-of-a-kind vocals, this is where you get off. I’ve seen them perform many times, and the boys in The Stonewall Vessels are a great bunch of dudes who aim to create music that can be felt as well as heard. Their live shows promote a lot of crowd interaction, and despite some parts getting lengthy, I can’t recommend this enough.

Through The Weird And Wild was released on November 24th, 2017. It can be found digitally right here.

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