Simon Stålhamre, Jacob Snavely and Christopher Cantillo are Stockholm, Sweden surf folk trio, Small Feet, and today (December 9) they released EP, Dreaming The Dream.
Small Feet’s debut album, 2015’s From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like The Ocean, “received rave reviews and the band toured both Europe and the United States”.
While working on their follow-up (to be released in early 2017) the band “revisited a few unfinished gems from the From Far Enough Away… sessions to bring us the Dreaming The Dream EP”.
Opening track, “Hymn”, is downbeat, earnest. There’s a spirit in it, though, as if life might get better. It’s only over the one minute mark, however.
The totally contrasting “Liar Behind The Sun” is more upbeat, with what sounds like rubbery bass and jangling guitar. The vocals are softly spoken yet impassioned. A wonderful lead guitar line is almost swamped by the vocals on top of it, though. Feedback rings to a crescendo before the song proper resumes. A subsequent lead guitar line is given more space to shine.
They ponder the “One At The Helm”, which seems to straddle the line between downbeat and upbeat. Delicate acoustic is adjoined to excellent, heartfelt vocal harmony. Things strip back, a somehow subtle boom of the bass drum with minimal guitar underlying the vocals and letting them breathe. A late middle section steers it in another direction, bold strumming and soaring, almost choir like, vocal.
It’s all “Smoke And Mirrors”, which feels like a Sixties throwback in some respects, flourishes of strum announcing a simple, yet appealing, groove. Jangly guitars reappear, especially for another late middle section. Those arpeggios ring out, blending with the vocals. The track ends like the buzzing of a vinyl LP in its dying strains.
The oddly titled “A Winter Coat On Bare Bones” has the lyric “the earth maybe round, but this world has corners”. As if being jabbed physically or mentally in a life that, sometimes, surely should go to plan. At times it rings with sizeable majesty, grand, bold and epic. The tight rhythms are a powerhouse of work, busy and evocative of Sixties output by The Who. Ringing organ announces its end.
“Here’s To Violence” opens with foghorn vocal arrangement, both unsettling and rumbling. The latter so much so it rings throughout your body. This is accompanied by creepy, bending strum of the guitar. The vocals proper, when they kick in, are vulnerable, but also beautiful in that that vulnerability never strays to out of tune. A curious line comes in “I’m ordinary like Michael Moore on your bookshelves”.
Less tuneful, it turns out, is the lead guitar solo; nonsensical shredding, and not even in the heroic heavy metal sense. After vocal harmony melodious, akin to anything on any good Yes song, another period of similar guitar rips in.
This, this time, is more evocative of tragedy, life being a mess and never going to plan. It ends with what sounds, again, like vinyl feedback as an LP or, in this instance, EP draws to a close. However, what just about sounds like the pattering of rain outside seems about discernible.
Particular highlights are “Liar Behind The Sun”, “A Winter Coat On Bare Bones” and “Here’s To Violence”. The first a good mix of rubbery bass and jangling guitar, recovering well after vocals swamping over a lead guitar line. Ambient feedback rings through before a lead line with improved clarity kicks in.
“A Winter Coat On Bare Bones” has one of the best lyrics on the EP with “the earth maybe round, but this world has corners”. This seems, in its eloquence, as if to convey being jabbed physically or mentally in a life that, sometimes, surely should go to plan. It rings with sizeable majesty, grand, bold and epic. The Who comparisons, tight, powerhouse rhythms, help encapsulate all that’s good in the track.
Album closer, “Here’s To Violence”, has a curious and stark foghorn vocal opening that goes right through you, and is epic, spanning over seven minutes. The eerie feeling is reinforced with bending, ringing guitar. Yes-esque vocal harmony is set against lead lines more ambient than melodic, building an atmosphere. This maybe the mess of life? Is the ending crackling vinyl, or pattering rain?
Not only that, the EP seems to flow together quite well. For instance the downbeat “Hymn” is succeeded by the more upbeat “Liar Behind The Sun”. These two, in turn, are followed by the mixed tempo of “One At The Helm”. There’s a similar effect in the second half, with the Sixties-tinged “Smoke And Mirrors” succeeded by “A Winter Coat Or Bare Bones”, the latter evocative of early era recordings of The Who.
Small Feet have displayed an ability to play both downbeat and upbeat songs, even occasionally mixing the two. Another thing that shines through is what appears to be their Sixties influences, all jangling, urgent and immediate. Late middle sections also seem play their part in the trio’s sound. The tracks all seem to flow and link together quite well, seemingly sequenced expertly. Small Feet’s Dreaming The Dream EP can be purchased on iTunes, here.
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Words by Andrew Watson