October 28, 2014
Another week, another excellent album release in Milwaukee. This scene has been cranking out consistently outstanding efforts for a while now, and Ladders’ debut, Suha, is certainly no exception.
The opening track, “Favorite Son”, gently introduces you to the band’s blend of twangy guitar, washed out vocals, and a tight but subdued rhythm section. A few other tracks (like “Linger”) on the album help to define this slightly swung, twangy, but gentle aesthetic. “Peaceful Country” characterizes this twangy-but-gentle approach, even in its title. This slightly sardonic tune is an appreciated tongue-in-cheek definition of the band.
“Constant Window” and “Immortal Man” allow the rhythm section to flex and push the pace a bit with some pulsing rhythms, but in the spirit of the album, the pulse gives away to gentle washes before any great drive establishes itself. “Open Vessel” represents the band at its brightest and loudest extreme, whereas “Engines of Reason” includes only intimate acoustic guitar and vocals.
A particularly fun song in the collection is the dandy, 45-second lo-fi wonder, “Story from Within.” Throughout the album you feel as though you’ve stumbled across an old record that your dad once loved, and this intentionally rustic tune exemplifies that feeling.
It’s not an album of grand gestures, big moments, or sweeping changes, but rather a study in subdued, moody songwriting and slow swells. It’s an enjoyable debut effort in its ease-of-listening and modern-but-worn timbre. The release party for the album is Thursday at 9 p.m. at Linneman’s.