Ages and Ages
added: 21 Apr 2014
// release date: 24 Mar 2014 // label: Partisan Records
reviewer: Paul Chapinal
Ages and Ages have friends in high places with Barrack Obama using No Nostalgia for his 2012 election campaign. True, he didn’t ask permission but as they say any publicity is good. Not that this Portland collective need that sort of distraction as their music is quite capable of stirring things up on its own.
This new album sees the band in fine form. Bursting with harmonies and melodies that could take some back to the laidback heady (trippy) days of late 60’s California. There’s sunniness about the performances and the vocals that suggest a certain naivety, though that’s pretty soon dispelled once you dig into the lyrics.
Opener Light Goes Out, once the chanting intro is out of the way, sort of sets the picture with its close harmonies and melodies. I See More is a rollicking number that sits well with the more sedate, shuffling No Pressure.
They are big on choruses and sing-alongs as on The Weight Below, and Ante Up. Those elements are to the fore but supporting them is the music that is at times sumptuous in its arrangements as in Calamity is Overrated, and the lush, psychedelic overtones of Over It. They do sparse quite well to with Our Demons though even here they lay on the harmonies when maybe the sole voice could have sufficed.
The plaintive These Ravines gets it right and is a great little acoustic number that leads into the closing title track. A slow builder that stately progresses gathering vocals and instruments, that builds to quite a crescendo. By the end of it you get the feeling that they’d ‘like to teach the world to sing’, if you get my drift!
The foundation is American folk music though they go far beyond that with their imaginative use of space, instruments, harmonies and arrangements. The production tilts towards ‘over’ but is kept in check. It can tire at times with the harmonies too high in the mix and maybe overused, thus loosing some of their power. Nevertheless this is well worth 40 minutes of your time.
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