Speakers Rating: 90/100
On September 28th, Steve Schlitz, singer and guitarist of Longwave for nearly ten years, will continue on his solo journey with the release of Hurricane Bells' Down Comes the Rain EP, a quick follow to the side project's debut LP, Tonight Is the Ghost, released digitally last November and in stores last April. (Stream the entire album on the Hurricane Bells Facebook page).
The EP offers two new songs from the band, "The Waiting Song" and "The Deep End," along with three covers: "Make A Deal With The City" (East River Pipe), "Into the Ocean" (Blue October), and "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King; made popular by The Shirelles) featuring vocals by Scout's Ashen Keilyn.
Hurricane Bells - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (live)
The Shirelles - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"
Down Comes the Rain kicks off with a take on "Make A Deal With The City" that escapes the hollow dreaminess of the original and instead injects it with a good dose of power-pop, a la Albert Hammond, Jr. without The Strokes. The track remains imbued with a bittersweetness that reminds listeners compromises have been made, sacrifices have been offered in order to survive.
You don't need to dig much further than the middle three song titles to pick up on the water motif that flows throughout this bunch. The sound also moves away from the electric energy of the opening track to an acoustic, stripped-down hush. At alternating times, the H2O mentions serve different purposes: we see water as a catalyst for rebirth, a coming clean, a new start, a baptism, but we also wee water as an overwhelming burden, a suffocating undertow, a drowning. The lyricism is poignant and just so very lovely.
"The Waiting Song" is the perfect tune to start each and every morning; it lifts spirits, it sends thanks, it gets asses in gear. The lyrics grow darker on "Into the Ocean," with a protagonist unable to successfully jump start his life; he's having a hard time treading water, but a marching drumbeat blesses the track with hope. "In The Deep End," a cascading carousel ride evokes a glimmer of that same hope and tries to turn away from darkness.
Hurricane Bells - "The Waiting Song"
On "Into the Ocean," Schlitz sings, "I wanna swim away/ but don't know how/ Sometimes I feel just like I'm falling in the ocean/ Let the waves up take me down/ Let the hurricane set in motion..." That subtle nod to this new(ish) Steve Schlitz venture says everything I am feeling about this band right now: I hope that Hurricane Bells keeps moving, keeps ringing. I am too invested now to stop myself.
Preorder the Down Comes the Rain EP on http://www.hurricanebells.com/.