Old Sea Brigade
Ode To A Friend


3.0
good

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (123 Reviews)
January 8th, 2019 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I wanna feel peace when I rest/so I know that I passed love's test

Old Sea Brigade’s first full-length release doesn’t start with a bang, but rather a slow crawl. Soft electric guitar leads are sprinkled over the airy production, and Ben Cramer’s soft Justin Vernon-esque low register provides a natural counterpoint. Beyond this, the entirety of “Sinkhole” is a somber ballad with modern-meets-vintage production values and ebb-and-flow dynamics, a seemingly fitting way to introduce an artist who’s garnered comparisons to Southern Gothic artists like Iron & Wine. But what distinguishes Cramer from other musicians who continue to crowd the indie folk scene today" Well, I suppose that comes down to the incredibly “spacious” nature of the production values. On the surface, Ode to a Friend isn’t doing anything new to set it apart - the songwriting is par for the course, and this kind of “alternative folk” balladry has already been done by more popular folk musicians such as The Civil Wars. But the distinguishing features are perhaps best explained by the album’s third track “Feel You.” Here, we get a mesmerizing, almost dream pop-influenced piece of restraint and simplicity; it mostly revolves around a few minimalistic piano figures, and the floaty synths and guitar leads wrap around them like a shroud. It may sound a bit too safe and unadventurous, but it also sounds incredibly warm and comforting.

I suppose that may be the best way to explain Ode to a Friend’s simultaneous appeal and flaws. This is the kind of album you’d put on when you’ve had a long day at work and need to wind down, or when you just need to sit back and reflect on things for a bit. No song comes remotely close to being anthemic or wildly energetic, and unfortunately, the incessantly subdued volume is the primary reason for the album being as homogeneous as it is. Still, let me give credit where it’s due. First of all, Ben Cramer pulls out some excellent guitar chops on this thing; “Western Eyes,” “Cigarette,” and “Hope”, in particular, are all bolstered by rapid fingerpicked melodies that compliment the delicate vocals and hopeful atmosphere perfectly. Also, I have to give an honorable mention to the closing title track, which draws from those aforementioned dream pop vibes to create a truly hypnotic reverb-drenched guitar finale. Top that with vocals that sound as though they came straight out of Ulver’s Assassination of Julius Caesar album, and you’ve got a really nice way to wrap up the album. I think that descriptor - “nice” - best sums up Ode to a Friend. In no way is it groundbreaking or innovative. In no way is it a substantial departure from other atmospheric indie folk. Still, I have a lot of respect for an artist who doesn’t need to resort to cheap gimmicks or half-hearted folk-pop “anthems” to get a message across. This is honest, humble music played very competently… and for that, it gets my modest recommendation.



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user ratings (8)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
DivergentThinking
January 7th 2019


5813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sup

Digging: Adrianne Lenker - abysskiss

Dewinged
January 7th 2019


13694 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh nice, didn't think this would get reviewed. The album starts really good but fails to engage soon after, still worth a check I think.



Great first review of the year Brendan!

Digging: Two People - First Body

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2019


9203 Comments


Gud review old chap

DivergentThinking
January 7th 2019


5813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What can I say, I'm always on the lookout for any new indie folk! Thanks for the feedback, guys :]

TwigTW
January 9th 2019


3598 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is nice. I can't say it's great, but I do keep coming back to it.

Digging: The Delines - The Imperial

DivergentThinking
January 9th 2019


5813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Same here. It's far from excellent, but for some reason, I'm still revisiting it frequently

TwigTW
January 9th 2019


3598 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I'll be interested to hear what he does next. Hopefully he takes this and improves on it.

DivergentThinking
January 11th 2019


5813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Honestly, I think it'd be cool if he made something that was similar to Bon Iver's self-titled. Something that sounds very grand but very earnest at the same time

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 15th 2019


29207 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Getting around to listening to this now



Sounds really nice, can tell the guy has invested some emotion in this



edit: yeah, as this went on it kinda all washed together...it's nice, but definitely nothing memorable. 3/5 is spot on.

Digging: Mree - The Middle



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