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New sounds: The Stillwalkers – Everytune EP

03/03/2013

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The sun’s starting to shine again, the spring is in the air – it’s time to start picking appropriately sunny music to soundtrack the season change. And while we’re at it, let’s get excited about some brand new music from a fresh, new band. The Finnish quintet The Stillwalkers released their debut EP Everytune digitally last year and physically earlier this year, and it has been getting quite a lot of plays in the Rambling Fox household for the last month or so. Debut EPs are one of the most romantic notions in music – the 4-6 initial steps of radiant potential and youthful passion that act like a beacon of excitement for future greatness as well as a reminder of the act’s innocent early days years afterwards. There’s always something special in hearing one that stands out from the crowd; it feels even better when the material is actually genuinely good.

At their core The Stillwalkers manage to capture the free-spirited, home-warm vibe of late-90s indie rock while still sounding modern and unlike a throwback pastiche. The six songs on Everytune radiate the spirit of the era and manage to sound almost nostalgic despite not being reminiscent of anything in particular. Well, bar from one thing – the band’s line-up features two horn players (always players) and it sounds like the people responsible for the horn arrangements have listened to The National very carefully, simply in terms of the horn sound and the tasteful, gorgeous way they have been woven into the sound. That’s where the similarities between that particular obsession of mine and The Stillwalkers end, however – the Ohio rockers’ melancholy is far, far away from the downright sunny feel contained within Everytune’s covers. Certain songs have an air of bittersweetness and wistfulness to them but never overpoweringly so; mostly Everytune sounds joyous and warm in a way that never becomes overbearingly hyper-positive: it doesn’t aim to be joyous, it simply is.

But the most straightforward reason why Everytune has made me excited about The Stillwalkers (to the point of ordering the physical version of the album in an inspired moment of musical rush) are the songs – The Stillwalkers are very adept at writing good ones. “The Runaway” features a chorus so ridiculously effective that it doesn’t even politely ask for permission before lodging into your head for weeks; not that you mind because we’re talking about one of the best songs of 2013 so far. “Augustine” and “Midnight Mover” contain melodies – both vocal and instrumental – that feel just right from the very first listen. The title track breathes the 90s nostalgic vibe the strongest, while “Everything Stays the Same” makes a good argument that maybe The National’s influence on the band’s sound runs a bit deeper than just how they use their horns. “Days” at the end showcases that the band are able to pull off the traditional grand closer in an exciting fashion. Six out six songs hit their target – pretty amazing considering these are only the band’s first steps.

The Stillwalkers are currently recording new material for their full-length debut, aimed for a release later this year. The Everytune EP has made it sure I’m ordering it the day I can. The most exciting newcomer of 2013?

P.S. if you too were bitten by the Everytune bug, the only way to get the physical version at the moment is to poke the band directly via e-mail or the antichrist of forced internet connectivity Facebook.

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