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Album Review Vows – Winter’s Grave

What gloomy, epically glorious things would a person think and hear, surrounded by walls of endless sun drenched sea? Vows may have captured the sound of being marooned. Winter’s Grave is oceanic movements of indie dream pop, currents of guitars and harmonies swelling over wonderful songwriting. There are shades of Papercuts and Beach House here, some off-kilter Beck style moments and more than a touch of Jens Leckman-esque romanticism. There are lonely and transformative moments in this release, where it seems Vows are singing to someone loved who won’t listen. At times it seems they have company on the lifeboat of their sound, and irregular joy breaks through in chants and jangly guitars; but the resonance is isolation- a group of men at sea, making rafts of gorgeously lonely music. Listen and be shipwrecked.

- Pop Stache

What gloomy, epically glorious things would a person think and hear, surrounded by walls of endless sun drenched sea? Vows may have captured the sound of being marooned. Winter’s Grave is oceanic movements of indie dream pop, currents of guitars and harmonies swelling over wonderful songwriting. There are shades of Papercuts and Beach House here, some off-kilter Beck style moments and more than a touch of Jens Leckman-esque romanticism. There are lonely and transformative moments in this release, where it seems Vows are singing to someone loved who won’t listen. At times it seems they have company on the lifeboat of their sound, and irregular joy breaks through in chants and jangly guitars; but the resonance is isolation- a group of men at sea, making rafts of gorgeously lonely music. Listen and be shipwrecked.

- Pop Stache

Μελαγχολία.Αυτό είναι το συναίσθημα που μ αρέσει.Αν μπορούσα να ελέγξω τη ψυχική μου κατάσταση θα επέλεγα να αρρωστήσω απ αυτή τη συννεφιά.Λίγο έτσι λίγο αλλιώς εδώ που τα λέμε όλα γύρω από κει γυρίζουν.Οι ζωώδεις εκρήξεις αδρεναλίνης και τεστοστερόνης και οι μίζερες χίμαιρες της καθημερινού μου αναθέματος.Ούτε χαρά ούτε λύπη,ούτε κρύο ούτε ζέστη,ούτε λιακάδα ούτε καταιγίδα…συννεφιά!
Προφανώς τα παραπάνω λόγια δε δίνουν κύρος στο δισκάκι.Αν επιλέξεις να το ακούσεις όμως θα δεις ότι δε χρειάζεται τις συστάσεις κανενός.Είναι σε πολύ καλό δρόμο η φάση του.Καλή ακρόαση…
ΥΓ:Δυστυχώς δε μου είναι δυνατόν να θυμηθώ από που τους τσέκαρα πρώτη φορά (για να πω ένα ευχαριστώ).Νομίζω το πρότεινε ο Spike (suicidedots)πριν κάνα δυο μήνες.

- Indie Sessions

Here’s a great new indie outfit from New Jersey named Vows.  This duo of the Crystal Mountain Music Collection somehow manage to create an all encompassing sound that reminds me a little of Okkervil River’s newest album.  Their music is full and welcoming, drawing the listener into their dreamy vibes of jangly guitars and romance.  Their debut album, which came out last April showcases these musical skills as it shifts from loud and heavier tunes like “parallel” to quiet love songs like, “Two Sunrises.”  Though released in the spring, this is a great album to brighten up your dark winter days.  Check out a few of my favorites below and be sure to give Winter’s Grave a listen. -M. Kauf

- Tour De Vaap

Such a vast territory this “indie rock” is, right? And I mean, sure, it ought to be. If we’re to believe that mainstream music is quite hard to enter into, than there must be many more bands doing their own thing in venues all across the world than there are on MTV and such. And that’s in no way a means by which one can judge value. Vows have a great thing going, a truly interesting sound and the freedom to experiment and pursue the echoes leading them on. At the confluence between Radiohead and Cocteau Twins, this album is just remarkable. Lush, ethereal sound draped around a definite pop sensibility, this is music one can relate to, discreetly enjoy, whisper about to select friends and use as a soundtrack for solitude. I can easily appreciate the openness of this album, it’s inviting glow, albeit a bit chilly, mostly because of the slightly psychedelic space vacuum slithering under the surface of these songs. I sadly don’t have many points of reference in my attempt to gain some comparative perspective on the music, but I can say this – Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, I’ve tried them all out and I haven’t clicked. Vows, however, got my attention almost instantly.

You see, I get the feeling those other bands I mentioned treat their influences like a Rubik’s Cube – fascinating, compelling, but ultimately technical, leaving little to no opportunity for overlap and color blending. What I hear on Vow’s debut record is quite different. It’s like a finger-painting, where folk, electronica and rock blend in vibrant shades, surprising and full of depth, raw and joyous. The fact that the material is recorded in a home studio, or something along those lines, adds to this vibe of childlike glee I get from the record – there’s no pretension, no easy escape or eminent polish through production; the music sounds real, organic, close at hand and the playfulness and poetry permeating the album seem all together more vivid because of this.

This down to earth approach shines through the video to the third track of the album as well – a pleasantly imperfect, refreshingly non-symbolic visual complement to the harmony and cadence of the song itself. It’s just lovely to be able to softly put the ever-so-agitated post-post-modern critical mind to rest for a bit and just enjoy something like this, so home-spun, so sincere. Sure, the references and connections all bubble beneath the surface, but if there’s one thing this album reminds me of it to just force yourself to shut up once in a while, at least in your own head, and contemplate, allow the sediment to settle, drink it all in. I’m firmly wedged in a bleak, useless, beating-a-dead-horse winter here in Romania, and this record, aptly titled, makes me feel like there’s a safe, shimmering barrier between me and the seasonal lightlessness outside.

I haven’t been so excited about a new band since the In It write-up, and I’m really happy that I can embed the entire Winter’s Grave album in the post, just like in that instance. Bandcamp is amazing, really. I really hope you enjoy this record. Keep an ear open for Unreal Love (sounding almost like a late-Beatles outtake, with a delightful Spanish verse), and Queen Baby (reminding me so much of Cocteau Twins’ spacious sound). I wish these guys the best and I’m looking forward to the new album they’ve announced to be working on! See you soon!

- Za Records

This weeks band to watch, Vows, is a “DIY dream pop due” from Central NJ comprised of Bone Blanket and Nillo. It’s hard not to get hooked upon first listen. With dreamy soundscapes and calming vocals matched with an upbeat tone throughout the whole album, it definitely left me wanting more. There are also elements of folk especially the song “Glory” which to me can be best described as dreamy folk.  The pair is currently playing shows with three other members of the Crystal Mountain Music Collective (Sabeel Azam, Ryan Ward, Scott Soffer) to recreate the sound as a live band experience. Now, amid shows the band is back in the basement recording a new full-length album.These guys are definitely on the rise and personally I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store.

- Feel Good Playlists

Like a wobbly Bambi still slick with afterbirth, I’m still finding my feet. At the moment I feel ready to review just about anything, so when the New Jersey duo Vows happened to “like” my last music post, I thought I’d check them out. Turns out they’re actually quite good. There’s a clear Radiohead flavour to them, but there are hints of the Mars Volta’s more mellow moments, and that kind of subdued, Bombay Bicycle Club dreamy vapour hangs over many of the tracks. I particularly like “Born a Wolf” – the vocals remind me of the Local Natives. Listen to the album “Winter’s Grave” here, and if you like it enough order a fancy hand-made physical copy from their site.

- BrainsNeeZe

Nillo and Bone Blanket of Crystal Mountain Music Collective  have struck a real chord with their collaborations and have began recording and touring under one monicker known as Vows. With a sound that distorts and moves from song to song Vows has created something truly unique and, overall, very enjoyable to listen to.

The band’s freshman release, Winter’s Grave, debuted in April of 2011 and is characterized by synthetic overtones and folk rock sensibility. The record unashamedly embraces the limits of its home studio recording and dances atop both organic noise and electronic leads. This sentiment gives the release a rollicking blend of attitude and ambience that is rarely heard and gives the music an intensely personal quality.

“Born a Wolf” is my favorite track on the record and is filled to the brim with all of the things that Vows does right: exquisite use of vocal harmony, melody driven music, relatable lyrics, and unending experimentation. The guitars are simply stated and very clean, a smart way to play on a busy track such as this, and provide hooks and leads to cling to while letting the vocals take precedent. The percussive use of the keyboard gives this song a swinging feel that keeps you on your toes and sets a high standard for the rest of the record.

The standards set by “Born a Wolf” are consistently well met throughout the release. If “Born a Wolf” is the initial spark that claims the forest  then “Unreal Love” is the burning limbs of the first fallen tree. These two songs together, in succession, are specific highlights of the musical ingenuity that Vows possesses and draws upon for their writing. While “Unreal Love” starts off stripped down, it quickly builds into one of the most epic moments on the CD. The chorus is teeming with vocal harmony, memorable grooves, and a drum part that transitions incredibly well into the chorus hook- giving it a movement and huge feeling that command your attention. After the bridge another verse comes in, and it is not until you realize that they are singing in another language that you can truly appreciate the subtle intricacies put into this record. These two songs, upon first listen, are those that opened my eyes to the musical might that is Vows and held my attention in place throughout the entirety of the release.

From beginning to end Winter’s Grave is full of catchy tunes that are well done and memorable. Ranging from upbeat rock instrumentation to low-fi  and psychedelic waves of sound, this record contains bits of enjoyment for everyone. For their universal marketability and their bold experimentation I give the release an 8 out of 10.

But wait, there’s more!

Vows is currently recording a new album that is due to be finished in 2012. I’ve recently had the opportunity to speak with Nillo about the recording process and sound of the new release.

“The new record is shaping up to be a little heavier on some electronic elements. It will be a more dynamic direction as we’re taking some chances with mixing it. Winter’s Grave was mostly all recorded in the same room of a basement and a living room. For this new record however, we’ve been messing around with recording in different ambient spaces and using some unusual techniques.”

Nillo went on to reveal that the new album is going to be both heavier and darker than Winter’s Grave, and hearing that made my ears perk up. The dedication to the organic sounds on the album paired with a darker feel leaves me with an excitement for the future of Vows’ music. I recommend that we all keep a weathered eye on the horizon for their new release- I have a feeling that something good is going to come out of it.

Other notable tracks on Winter’s Grave are “Parallel”, “A Mile From The Road”, and “Anywhere You Go”.

-Cardinal Playlists

“VOWS”

I came across these guys whilst on the Internet and wanted to give them a try, and a minute turned to ten and ten turned a lot more than that. I find something eerily pleasant about Vows. There is quite often a desire to compare music to more recognizable musicians like, “oh they sound like Radiohead”. I want to refrain from that with Vows. Mostly because I have not given them enough time to really understand where they are coming from.

Vows’ songs are full of echo giving them that ethereal, eery sound, but the music is bittersweet; blissfully melancholy. A perfect background to a thoughtful, relaxed evening when you are accompanied merely by your thoughts. Take a listen and please, enjoy.

-The Subjective Listener

Vows Album…

I actually found out about Vows after they liked one of my posts just the other day. After somebody likes one of my posts, I usually check out if they have a site of their own. It happened that Vows did. You can check them out here…http://vowsmusic.wordpress.com/ . Anyways, I went through their site and dug up their album “Winter’s Grave” (which happens to have a great album cover).  Immediately their sound reminded me of Youth Lagoon. Which is weird considering my last post was about Youth Lagoon. But anyway, their sound is very relaxing while having a nice folk-pop sound to it at times. I strongly urge you to go and buy their album. Yes, it’s on iTunes. I promise you, Vows will be a very very well known group in a very short time.

Upcoming shows you ask?

1/6 – @The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ
1/22 – @The Cake Shop – New York, NY
2/18 – @Le Grande Fromage – Atlantic City, NJ

Go check out their site, and go buy their album “Winter’s Grave”. If you like Youth Lagoon, you’ll love Vows.

-ColoNYCmusic.com

Vows – “Winter’s Grave”

Softly played and loudly spoken jams comprise [Vows’] debut album “Winter’s Grave” with 11 tracks of folk-rock grooves. Those 11 tracks range from acoustic hook heavy songs like “Anywhere You Go” to full-on jamborees such as album closer “Dead Ends.” Whether you are looking for quiet jams to compliment your readings at night, or all out instrumental pieces with howling vocals to keep your cabin fresh and alive, Vows have got what you are looking for. Download “Winter’s Grave” over at their bandcamp [here].

- Minimum Advice

“Winters Grave” by Vows

I am not sure which link on obscure shoutbox I clicked to find this band. But it turns out good and even better when I find out it’s a free release on the CMMC Label which have much more to offer.
So Vows is a duo from New Jersey an play some psychy/dream pop. Maybe a mixture between Beach House and Grizzly Bear. Some tracks are real gems and stay in your head, some are just for the moment, but that’s ok. There is potential here for your new favorite springtime soundtrack.
I am sure if they ever go to a real recording studio with professional mastering and shit it turns boring. So keep your DIY recording sound, please.

- Dying For Bad Music

Vow’s debut album “Winter’s Grave”

Dubbed out samples and churning white noise are making endless rounds in increasingly lifeless indie pop. It’s hard to find the pearls without sifting through lots of lackluster muck.

Vows’ debut album, Winter’s Grave stands out from that mess without ditching the musical aesthetics that has made this style so damn popular. The seasonal title of the work proves to be strikingly accurate. With the exception of the opening tracks’ warm Rhodes piano invoking some wintry nostalgia, the album pulls quickly away from the wool and gloom of this year’s winter, diving face first into a pool of summery shimmer. It’s hard not to feel the pull of the band’s continual optimism for the beachy goodness that late May holds. “Parallel”, the second track, stumbles around its first half in a wintry mix of chillingly hollow bass coupled with haunting high-end organ jabs and electric guitar caked in icy VST reverb. Around the two-minute mark, a sudden flurry of ecstatic shaker madness greets the listener like the moment when pollen and heat slap you in the face and you realize… summer has arrived.

Jeff Pupa, the mind behind Bone Blanket and other central Jersey indie projects, does not abandon his song writing skills. He manages to keep his songs genuine despite the generous use of post-production effects and warm synthetic sheen not found in much of his other work. Soft meandering toy box melodies in tracks like “Unreal Love” and “Queen Baby” do much to set the mood for the album. Pupa vocally channels his inner Zach Condon, crooning on “Unreal Love” and “Anywhere You Go.” Most of the album, however, has Pupa’s signature powerful vocal chords largely where they were in his previous projects, give or take some reverb. It’s exciting to see some of the experimentation being added so gradually, so as not to dilute what has been working so well. Most of the songs are based around lyrics and the feelings they evoke, but unlike other folky projects from the Crystal Mountain Music Collective, the words here often recede into the mix so heavily or get so lost in their own psychedelic looped ambiance that they become part of the background. All the while, Nillo’s warbling piano lines glide in and out of the mix to keep the water-like flow consistent. The keyboard’s summery drone builds into the shakes, pops, and crackles that return to the melodic guitar hooks that led you there in the first place.

Soft percussive elements push through the album’s ambiance enough to drive many of the tracks into the frantic pop hooks that make them irresistibly endearing. Stand out tracks like “Queen Baby”, “Parallel”, and the title track, “Winter’s Grave”, largely sum up the feel but don’t entirely do it justice. There is plenty of density to go around here. Even after a few listens, the work stands to highlight various aspects of emotional rides associated with the season’s change. Pupa’s voice is never so washed out as to be unmistakable, like a beacon in the dense fog of stereo textures. The jittery evolution into droning chaos within the closer, “Dead Ends”, makes the trees lose their leaves, inviting you to hit repeat to thaw the next year’s winter all over again. Fans of Pupa’s clean folk song writing ability will not be disappointed, but it is important to note that much of the acoustic sensibility of previous endeavors has been shed in favor of more experimental ambiance. I hope we can expect more from this duo, as this has been one of the most innovative and fun sonic trips to come from Jersey in recent memory.

- Matt Jack

Vows – Winter’s Grave

Οι Vows θυμιζουν έντονα Rufus Wainwright αλλά το κάνουν πολύ καλά. Ήρθαν στο κατάλληλο τάιμινγκ όσον αφορά τον εαυτό μου. Μόνο δίπλα μου δεν τους είχα σήμερα. Έτσι, να τα λέμε που και που κατά το άκουσμα. Ο δίσκος μου έβγαλε το αίσθημα της απώλειας. Της ερωτικής. Αυτή, που μόνο όταν έρθει συνθλίβεσαι πάνω στα αγκάθια της και σπαράζεις από αφόρητο πόνο. Αυτή που σου κόβει την ανάσα στα δύο, σαν να πήρε τη μισή μαζί της..και σε βρίσκει ανήμπορο να αισθανθείς οτιδήποτε άλλο από εκείνη..

- Suicide Dots

Vows – Winter’s Grave

“Hemlagad, lite lätt psykedelisk drömpop från New Jersey. Som ett Beach House på en oklippt gräsmatta. Bara att ta sig in på Bandcamp och hämta.”

- Skogsgospel