The name Nick Hours may conjure up the image of a solo artist but it is actually the name under which seventeen different Oakland California based freelance musicians led by singer Nick Rattray perform their brand of folksy chamber pop. This army of folky freelancers has been playing music together since 2011. Those four years together definitely explain how a band of such magnitude is able to sound so tight together.
Their debut record A Peach was recorded with money the band raised from a Kickstarter campaign they started in early 2014. This money did not go to waste. On top of its seventeen strong musicians, A Peach also boasts two recording studios, four different producers and four different engineers as well as taking a year of the band’s “blood, sweat, and tears” to produce.
The album’s opening track “Lazy Mountains” is a slow string soaked rambler that drifts along like a leaf being blown by the wind. In some ways it sets the listener up for what they are about to experience. And experience is the proper word to describe the listening process of A Peach. The albums eight tracks are each different, like chapters of a novel they set themselves up and then play out their fates through to the end.
A Peach definitely wears its influences, which are many, on its sleeve as the album echoes of artists like Iron & Wine (to the extent that sometimes Rattray’s vocals are eerily similar to Sam Beam’s) and at times the instrumental bits hint at Andrew Bird. But for all the similarities which Nick Hours shares with these aforementioned artists, the main component they lack is the inherent heart that is found on the records of Beam and Bird. And though this may seem an unfair comparison, it is something that separates the men from the boys as they say. Many of the songs on A Peach, as beautifully produced and well played as they are, often seem like tracings of bands that Nick Hours admires. A Peach lacks a sense of variety, which becomes noticeable after a time. Many of the songs seem like they are still in the stage of being batter, yet to be separated and baked, and formed into their own unique beings.
A Peach is a perfect example of music in this day and age. It is a solid though novice record, which contains good songs and good ideas, and it’s an album, which was toiled over to produce. But that is the story of so many bands these days, which means that one must struggle that much harder to stand out. Nick Hours possesses the potential to stand out; it just may take a few more years and lot more blood, sweat, and tears before they do.
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