Once in a great while, an album actually transforms memories. For whatever reason, these records tint every thought with their own unique spirit. When Voice Brother and Sister plays, you may think back to days spent as a child, sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch of grandma's house, spitting watermelon seeds.
Up until now, the majority of Athens, Georgia musicians have been about as far removed from true "southern music" as a Canadian hip-hop DJ. On Voice Brother and Sister, though, Summer Hymns fuse the dense pop stylings of fellow Athens musicians the Olivia Tremor Control with a distinctly southern, banjo-tinged flavor. The result is one of the most accessible albums to come out of the Athens psychedelic scene in a long time.
Voice Brother and Sister opens with a very Olivia Tremor Control-inspired 48 seconds of impenetrable sound collage. Thankfully, those few seconds quickly give way to a series of spectacular country-tinged psychedelic rock tracks. Summer Hymns' music is characterized by plucky banjo motifs, layered instrumental textures, dramatic dynamics changes, furious percussion, and singer Zachary Gresham singing schoolyard melodies in his laid-back, vaporous tone. But what really sets the band apart is their meticulous attention to detail. As carefully arranged as these songs are, Voice Brother and Sister never feels cold or calculated. On tracks like "Mr. Brewer (Crackle, Crackle)," and "Stick Your Tail in the Wind," gentle banjos, guitars, and xylophones join together in a hazy backyard jam session. You can almost see the fog coming out of your speakers.
The album's highlight comes with "New Underdressment." The song opens with a simple guitar part and vocal melody before bluegrass violins and additional vocal tracks slowly penetrate the mix. The number of individual melodies buried just beneath the song's surface is astounding. A lesser band could have picked apart each beautifully dense track on the album into about 20 generic psych-pop tunes. But Summer Hymns made a conscious decision not to release a album until they felt that each song lived up to its full potential, and Voice Brother and Sister is that much better for it.
2. Beginning to See
3. Mr. Brewer (Cackle, Cackle)
4. Stick Your Tail in the Wind
5. A Songbird I Will Find
6. Half Sick of Shadows
7. New Underdressment
8. Knock Louder
10. Train Song
11. I Shall Miss Missing You
12. In Crumb's Mind
13. Eating Bark
14. Miriam Moon Is Best Friends With the Stars at Night
mp3: 320kbps mp3s delivered immediately upon purchase
CD: Jewel case with full lyric booklet