I often surf the net looking for outstanding music from indie bands. This way I have discovered people like Richard Hawley. James Grant. And got so much pleasure from listening to them......And now The Head and The Heart. They are really quite exceptional. This is music the way it should sound. Hard work has gone into every single song, and it shows. I have bought the first album and shall shortly be sending off for their second. I hope they do more. One minor quibble--they should get someone to design their covers a little more commercially, as I almost missed them, and I took their second album's cover for a joke and initially decided they were not serious musicians on that basis. But they are serious musicians. Very seriously good. So why the wishy-washy album covers? Anyway, buy the albums. They are well worth it. About the best I have found during the past several weeks.
I took a punt on this when it came up in `Recommended for you', this is the debut album from Seattle six piece `The Head and the Heart. I have been listening to it for a while now and it has all finally come together and that is in a good way.
They are firmly placed in the Americana tradition, with obvious influences like Crosby, Stills and Nash, but with modern influences creeping in. I think `Red on Black' said in the other review that this is like Okkervil River meets Rufus Wainright and I must whole heartedly concur. It has a mood in itself that starts a bit edgy and one could say flippant with `Cats and Dogs' (actually features a miaow and a bark) and then gets more serious as the album progresses.
For me stand out tracks are 'Rivers and Roads' with some lovely harmonies and distinct clear delivery which makes it sound like it was recorded in one hit. `Winter Song' and `Heaven go easy on me', the latter being one of those that I don't feel I will get bored with.
A quick word on the sleeve, there are virtually no sleeve notes or lyric sheet etc. It does have some interesting art, but this is one where if you get it as a download you are not missing out on very much. The only way you would miss out is by not getting it at all and miss the start of what I hope will be a long and fruitful career.
From Wikipedia: The band self-released their debut album The Head and The Heart in June 2009, selling it at concerts, by word of mouth, and through local record stores. In the coming months the album sold 10,000 copies. Their music plays heavily on the trio of vocal harmonies, piano and violin melodies, and prominent drums and percussion. It was the top-selling album of the year 2010 for the independent Sonic Boom Records in the band's home neighborhood of Ballard, Seattle. The remastered, expanded album was re-released on Sub Pop Records on April 16, 2011.
I am not surprised this album has sold so well largely by word of mouth, because it is quite simply brilliant - one of the best albums I have heard in years.
The Head and the Heart were the warm up act when I saw Death Cab for Cutie play in Brixton - they were a fantastic way to start the evening! From Seattle to me they're a mix of Fleet Foxes and Noah and the Whale while at the same time sounding organic and original. The whole album works well together with a steady beat, range of instruments (at one point even a cat meowing), great lyrics and soulful vocals. I've listened to them on sunny days and rainy mornings and I feel they're perfect for my generation, teens and early 20's, songs about leaving home, family and friends and having to grow up. Everyone I've had the pleasure of introducing them to has loved them and I can't wait for their second album!
Being a fan of various types of music I was a little unsure what to expect from this album when it appeared in my amazon's 'recommendations' as the sheep mask made me thinks weird heavy metal... I looked them up on youtube expecting my speakers to be blown by a horrific din... and instead discovered a band capable of true beauty! Indie/folk in style with a light pop edge they are really good! Best thing to do is look them up on youtube and judge for yourself. You won't regret it. If you think maybe Damien Rice or Bon Ivor or Laura Marling then you know what to expect. Good album.
A good tip drawn from experience is to regularly check the American music blog "I am fuel you are friends" written by Denver music fan Heather Browne who seems to live at gigs and spend most of her time promoting new bands with track records which scream impeccable taste. The Head and Heart are one such outfit out of the former grunge capital Seattle one of America's nicest cities along with neighbouring Portland in Oregon. Before you all groan and utter the words "Fleet Foxes" can I ask you to hold fire for a moment dear reader. It would be foolish not acknowledge some influence but it is not overt or in your face, indeed they have been described elsewhere as the "Avett Brothers leading a midnight reverie with the Rufus Wainwright". Therefore it is appropriate that this is no way more pronounced than in their joyous single "Sounds like Hallelujah" a mix of Okkervil River style harmonies combined with Wainwright like sweet balladry which breaks the song into different constituent parts but which will have you singing like a man/woman processed once it seeps into your brain. Contrast this with the gentle acoustics of "Lost in my mind" and the equally lovely "Winter song" sung beautifully by Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Charity Thielen (violin, vocals, percussion) and you can discern more clearly the two main influences that the band cite on their Myspace page namely The Beatles and Crosby Stills Nash and Young who as we know showed considerable promise in their day. As such if you enjoy a heady mix of watertight harmonies, roaring violin, passionate piano and layers of Americana that makes you feel that you may have heard before because frankly it so good, then check out the Head and the Heart.
The other band members are Jon Russell - vocals, guitar, percussion, Kenny Hensley - piano, Tyler Williams - drums and Chris Zasche - bass and fine backing musicians they are. Certainly a couple of the songs are a bit too merry for their own good and at the moment I tend at the moment to skip "Ghosts" and "Coeur D'alene" although I suspect they will both grow and appeal over time. "Down in the valley" alternatively is classic alt country of the sort that Ryan Adams seemed to completely appropriate during those halcyon days that led to the great double album pairing of "Heartbreaker" and "Gold" and is the albums highlight.
The blurb on their album is well written and they warn that "If you love bands drenched in pretence or that keep themselves metaphorically aloof, you'll hate The Head and The Heart. This band is unadulterated joy and boundless hope for the future laid bare in three-part harmonies, bubbling bass lines and warm pop orchestration that embraces you in a full-on hug". As a self description it may appear a little immodest but in fairness The Head and the heart to aim directly with a full frontal appeal to both your pop sensibility and emotions. This debut album is very fine indeed and if you are seeking a new band that engage your brain and your emotions you have reached journeys end.
It arrived in good condition, a bit of dust. Nothing the good ol' brush can't solve though. THE HEAD AND THE HEART! The music is heavenly and earthly at the same time. Sends shivers down your spine. Experience it on YouTube first before buying. Vinyl quality is as great as usual.
The first time I've heard this band on a TV show I fell in love. They are unique, warm, intriguing. This is the best debut album I've bought in 2012. The Head and the Heart are a band we'll heard a lot of.