The Long Winters are from Seattle, Washington. They're on Barsuk Records and their ever changing roster includes Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla on their third LP, Putting The Days To Bed. I actually saw and heard the band for the first time while they were opening for Death Cab For Cutie in Boulder, CO. Because of all these things, I sometimes feel that The Long Winters get a little too much Ben Gibbard in their tea. I think the logistics make the two bands comparable, but to tell you the truth, I don't see (hear) it. John Roderick's voice is in your face and wants to be heard, while Gibbard's is soft and subtle. I like to think of it like this: I could take out Ben Gibbard if a fight ever ensued, but I think Roderick could kick my ass. Hell, the dude is from Anchorage, Alaska. He could kill a Grisly Bear with his hands.
If you were a fan of either of the first two Long Winters' first two LPs, especially When I Pretend To Fall, you'll probably go wild over this record. It's everything you could possibly want out of a band's third album. It's mature, polished, and takes everything they've done previously and makes it better. There are no dramatic changes. The biggest departures the band makes are on two songs towards the end of the album, "Rich Wife" and "Departure (It's A)." "Rich Wife" sounds similar to a Bloc Party song. The chugging drums and a hard strummed guitar without a bassline, a Bloc Party staple, seems straight from Silent Alarm. The song boasts my favorite line from the album: "Is your high horse getting a little hard to ride?" It's still a Long Winters song, but an evolved one. "Departure (It's A)" starts off like a band I never would have thought that John Roderick would emulate - The Black Crowes. I'm telling you, "Departure's" opening and chorus is a straight Black Crowes rip off. It's a loud, bluesy, Robinson brother guitar riff and it works fabulously.
Another highlight off the album is the new version of "Ultimatum." "Ultimatum" comes from the band's EP, Ultimatum. The original version was more of a ballad that consisted of heavily finger picked acoustic guitar and a string section. The version on Putting The Days To Bed is a rocker but doesn't lose any of the intimacy of the previous recording. Roderick's voice SOARS on this track and I'm not sure if I've ever heard it sound better. I might be saying this because the new version is well, new, but I like the version on this much album better.
The favorite for many will be the album's third track, "Teaspoon," a catchy three-minute pop song with a crushing chorus consisting of horns and a completely idiotic one word lyric that fits so naturally that no other word could possibly have been used. Roderick opens the song with the lyric "I know I wasn't made to play on a team," which could possibly be alluding to the ever-changing lineup of The Long Winters. It will for sure be the highlight of the band's live set if they can keep up the energy of the album version.
Roderick has put together another batch of irresistible pop songs. His song writing isn't complicated, the production is simple, and his lyrics can go from insightful to ridiculous all in the same breath. But he keeps evolving, mastering his craft, and hopefully picking up a lot of new fans along the way.
The Long Winters