Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Album Review: Schooner - Neighborhood Veins

Schooner has always reminded me of the local bands I came to love in Colorado: loved enough locally to keep the dream alive through lineup changes, day jobs, and countless other struggles, but never able to get over the hump. Neighborhood Veins, Schooner’s first national release, is the momentum they need to get over that hump.

For local fans, Neighborhood Veins is less of a new record and more of a remastered, reimagined compilation of the songs the band has been playing live the last few years. The album is untamed and pulsing with vibrant, organic production that makes it a fitting soundtrack for nooks and crannies of the Triangle it grew out of.

The opening sequence is the best thing Schooner has ever recorded. “It Won’t Matter” combines the deep sighing emotions of the previous high watermark “Maybe We Lose In The End” with propulsive pop, but the brilliance is in the transition to “Trap.” It’s a seamless switch with a badass guitar line rising up until frontman Reid Johnson bursts into the record’s catchiest track.

Some off-tempo tracks like “Floodlights And Ghosts” keep the energy palpable. The effective repetition of the three-word titles in “Still In Love” and “Say My Name” are swirling, pleasant aural traps.

The momentum isn’t sustained in much of the Neighborhood Veins’ second half. The improvised interlude “Veins” stops the album cold and its contributions to the organic atmosphere aren’t enough to compensate. Other than “Say My Name,” the final tracks struggle to regain the opening’s energy. It culminates in an 11-minute, aleatoric ramble that’s forgivable, but still frivolous.

These qualms are minor overall and Neighborhood Veins’ opening half is strong enough to overcome it. Schooner has earned renewed attention and they have a good chance to take the next step many of their Triangle peers have.

Schooner will play an album release show at The Pinhook tonight, September 24, with D-Town Brass and See Gulls. Tickets are $5.

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