I had an idea in my mind of what I was going to hear when I heard I was going to be reviewing a band called Appalachian Wind; sweet majestic strings that would sound as good as any Fleet Foxes song with its own dash of Americana. When I listened to the EP entitled The Backwoods I was greeted with something that was a couple of degrees off and most resembled music from Bon Iver. The music is solemn, melancholy folk that is made from a couple of acoustic guitars and vocals.
The band is comprised of Michael Travis and Jamesen Rees who both happen to be in high school. Suffice it to say they are incredibly young and still have a long way to go to mature as musicians but they show a lot of promise with this release. The duo is somewhere near the caliber of that of Justin Vernon but if they keep honing their skills they might close within five to ten years. For course the goal isn't to be a caricature of an artist but to become your own unique shining light.
Travis and Rees have a couple of things going for them but the strongest is their ability to harmonize with each other. They sound good aesthetically and almost sound like one unified voice rather than two distinct voices. The guitar playing is by no means bad but on the same token doesn’t have the wow factor you get when listening to The Tallest Man On Earth or Sufjan Stevens. In fact it’s pretty basic revolving around simplistic chords and changes.
All the songs run into each with a similar vibe and feel. Furthermore the lack of instrumentation makes the EP seem like one continuous track. It starts with an instrumental intro that lasts under a minute. A couple of acoustic guitars intermingle and you occasionally get some percussion from them hitting the sides of their guitars.
“It Began” is the first fleshed out song and shows lyrical maturity beyond their years. They avoid typical clichés that younger musicians tend to fall into. During the verse you hear a single voice but when the chorus come they harmonize and make some magic. ”Brother” serves up some falsetto as well and different yet congruent vocal parts.
The next track “I’ve Been Runnin’” is arguably the weakest track but the band closes strong with “Don’t Worry.” The vocal melodies are memorable and stick with you after the song is done. The duo is obviously at the early stage of development. Who knows what the future holds but I can only imagine them improving in the coming years if they stick with it.
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