What is the difference between alt.country and country music? The absence of both over the top production and that horrible country-pop sound that so many in Nashville seem to like, is the accepted answer. Then of course there are the more honest, raw acoustic sounds and uncluttered, bubble-gum free lyrics of alt.country. So what happens when you mix alt.coutry with indie rock? Attic Lights.
Attic Lights have created a fresh sound that defies genre. It is filled with melodious, four part harmonies and intense, emotive, melancholy power. It's a combination of The Beach Boys some Granddaddy and a bit of The Eels with more than a hint of Neil Young. It is their twist of twang that makes them different.
That twist comes primarily from a combination of the unusual vocal talents of Colin McArdle – the co-frontman and bass player – and pedal steel. McArdle's distinctive twangy voice lends itself perfectly to that alt.country sound. When balanced with the vocals of Kev Sherry – co-frontman and acoustic guitar player – the sound is more roots rock/Americana than alt.country. Whatever you call it, together they are charismatic and enthralling and at the heart of Attic Lights unique sound.
Their first EP, the self-titled Attic Lights, leans more to the roots rock side. “Late Night Sunshine”, the first track on Attic Lights is a perfect example of what makes Attic Lights stand-out. The song has addictive lyrics, poppy guitar riffs and of course that incredible four part harmony that they do so well. It is a sweet, sad tune and my personal favorite on this EP.
“Pretty Hill” the last track on Attic Lights opens with feedback and strong electric guitar the kind of thing you would expect on any indie rock anthem but the Attic Lights aren't about to fall into the “typical” trap. Oh no. In comes that marvelous pedal steel, the perfect compliment to the mournful, sullen, passionate lyrics that are reminiscent of Travis.
Shiver The Trees, Attic Lights second EP is equally good and leans more to their alt.county side. “Martin”, the first track, is a beautiful, melodic example of Attic Lights Beach Boys love affair. Twangy, heartfelt and drug soaked “Martin” is a captivating track.
“Nothing But Love” has that same melodic charm and twangy but comfortable pedal steel sound. This is a mellow, wistful track with sweet, prurient lyrics that will easily compete with any melancholy country song. Definitely the best track on Shiver The Trees.
Both Attic Lights and Shiver The Trees are perfect companions. Together they give a picture of what this talented and interesting band are capable of. I highly recommend these two Eps. One day they will be collector's items.