Your Attention, Please
The Parson Red Heads are a west coast folk-pop band comprised of friends, family members, and lovers. This cohesiveness emanates from their latest record, an Australian release of their 2011 LP, Yearling, this time including five bonus tracks. Complex yet pleasing harmonies float over simple guitar and piano melodies while percussion carries the entire package. Every bit of songwriting, composition, and production sits neatly in its place—but where is the zsa zsa zsu?
Yearling is a solid product. It sounds nice enough, and the band demonstrates variety with plenty of slide guitar and harmonica. Evan Way, the main songwriter and vocalist, coos some emotionally evocative lyrics about finding our proper time and place on this planet and about new-found responsibilities of becoming an adult: all fine subjects for a band of twenty-somethings to explore. Specifically, don’t miss “Kids Hanging Out,” which embodies all of the promising musical and thematic qualities of the record. But considering the bonus tracks, Yearling is seventeen songs long. Even the biggest Fleet Foxes fan finds seventy-six minutes of harmonies and acoustic guitar tiresome. While the mixing and layering is tight, it seems someone in the studio failed to edit. For instance, “I Was Only” and “Happy We Agree” sound like bad covers of rejected Beatles songs. And isn’t it a bit soon for a re-release of a one-year old record, especially from a band with two EPs under its belt?
On the band’s website, Way declares “these songs are powerful enough that they could reach a lot more people than they did the first time around, if given the proper attention.” So the reason why the original Yearling didn’t bring them wild success was because audiences apparently just weren’t paying attention. Well, audiences, make sure that you’ve logged out of Facebook and all of your electronic devices are switched off. Because Way is right. The Parson Red Heads are a great band making honest music in a time when that’s tough to come by.