Matt Lane (guitars/vocals), Joey M. Bishop (drums), Taufan Kurniawan (bass), Iir Ahmad (violin) and Indra Ruri (trumpet) are A Straw Assembly. The band from what I understand came together briefly in East Java, Indonesia for the recording of the album and a one-off show to celebrate the release. Does that mean the band is broken up? I’m not sure but one thing I can say is that Skyfeed is an exceptional release.
The songwriter Lane explains, “The album emerged from a flat period in my life, in between jobs and places, waiting for the next phase to kick in.” Lane also mentions that he can hear influences such as Bill Callahan, Okkervil River, Radiohead and a few others. I agree with him here especially on the first two artists. There is a off-kilter indie rock feel to the songs which is evident.
Up first is “...and the rain” which is more or less an intro. It revolves around acoustic guitar picking and a crying violin. I was on board after the short piece which was beautiful melancholy. The mood picks up with “Monsters” and is a heartfelt piece with catchy melodies and wonderful instrumentation. The horns and guitar are fantastic but so are the vocals which contain a smidge of sadness and hope which makes for a great combination. Lyrically, the song delivers and avoids cliches and platitudes. Lane sings “The clock ticks round, the seconds crawl / The weeks ahead loom like monsters.”
“Free ride” is another highly enjoyable song with swirling violins, creative drumming and clean guitars. The band isn’t afraid to dabble in dissonance and chaos and displays the dynamics they can produce as well.
“In the waves” is an instrumental piece that is as captivating as anything else on the album. The technical prowess and talent is evident. I want to give kudos to the tight and creative performance all around. The bass and drums play off each other but the addition of horns and violin are the cherry on top. The band is really just getting started.
Don’t miss out on “Arrival” which contains some of the most beautiful vocals and mariachi style horns. Speaking of great vocal performances, “Sleepwalker” starts with haunting vocal harmonies and guitar playing. Eventually more guitar and violin are introduced and it is one of those songs that gives you chills.
This is truly an exceptional album and a gem that needs more ears. Highly recommended
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