Ravens & Chimes Holiday Life

New York’s Ravens & Chimes make music for cities that never sleep and the people that inhabit them, songs for late nights gone awry and early mornings spent picking at warm bowls of regret. 2007's Reichenbach Falls earned comparisons to the Arcade Fire and drew notice from Leonard Cohen and Jeff Mangum; Holiday Life might get Dylan's attention. It would be well-earned.

You have your whole lifetime to make your first album, but as the band found, it's making the second that feels like one. Frustration and exhaustion led to lineup changes and fitful songwriting after a long stint on the road, but a new song, "Carousel" – originally penned for submission to "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" soundtrack -- opened the floodgates again. The rest of the album came pouring out, and the band reconvened with Reichenbach Falls producer Howard Bilerman, the mighty engineer/drummer of "Funeral," to add to sessions previously held with Bilerman and Larry Crane (Elliott Smith, The Decemberists).

The result is Holiday Life, an album pulsing with triumphant energy, though its influences remain evocative: frontman Asher Lack, the son of NYC painter Stephen Lack, spent his bright-eyed youth mingling with Basquiat and Ginsberg, later interning for Wes Anderson during his NYU years as Ravens began to take shape. Those artists' sense of fearless creativity is at play on new tracks such as "The Parting Glass" and "Clarissa Explains It All," a song that hints at F. Scott Fitzgerald (sorry, Melissa Joan Hart) as Lack sings of "a brilliant light we saw." Brilliant, indeed: the album's ten songs shimmer with heavenly pianos and Olympian drumming, the stuff of classical training and modern heartbreak. Ravens & Chimes, soaring to new heights at last, have found their empire state of mind.

-David Greenwald 

Better Looking Records
April 3rd, 2012

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