Wonka Vision Magazine

The Winter Sounds – Pinebox EP

It’s difficult to place a band like the Winter Sounds. In a industry where “sounds like” and “draws influence from” hold more weight than most are willing to admit, it’s easy to list off bands with similar sounds, but this group does a fantastic job of taking bits and pieces – not chunks – from other bands and weaving them into something much more subtle and uniquely its own. Furthermore, the band can pull off a name like the Winter Sounds – even during seasons its polar opposite – largely in part to its willingness to do more than just write songs that sound good. The Winter Sounds compose songs with complexity and depth.

With a second full-length due to come out in spring of next year, the Athens, Ga., quartet decided against keeping its fans waiting until 2009 and put out a three-song teaser of tracks from the slated album. The title track, “Pinebox,” is the clear stand-out on the release, which features the smooth singing of guitarist Patrick Keenan, a style that fans of the group’s first album will be familiar with. The group seems to have found that perfect balance between the band and the front man, with both parts trading off according to musical importance, a give and take where the music compliments the singing but takes over the song once the vocals drop out.

“Autumn Movement” and “The Heart is Scarlett” are both solid tracks, but both are also demo versions of the album songs. If they’re this good now, it means that maybe the album holds something even better. The former track is dominated by keys not unlike the ones employed by Volcano, I’m Still Excited!! – and the words sung in the upper echelons of the staff’s range do nothing to discredit this association. On the latter track, the band displays a partiality toward melody similar to acts like Copeland, but has the good sense to steer clear of being so pretty that its boring.

Admittedly, the term indie rock doesn’t mean much these days, but as a reference, the Winter Sounds is much more Hey Mercedes than, say, the Arcade Fire, giving all of its music a deeply nostalgic kind of feel. This is indie rock that doesn’t just move – it takes you somewhere. 

Rating: 4/5
Release Date: November 11, 2008