Return 2 Pinkwood

The once and future Seekonk
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  September 22, 2010

Seekonk's Web site has been abandoned and is now a home for spam. They haven't played a show this year. Northeast Indie, the label that in 2005 put out the band's last album, Pinkwood, has also lost its Internet presence and is no longer an active label (though I bet Paul Agnew still has a few discs available for sale should you want to track him down).

beat_seekonk_main
BACK FROM THE MISSING Seekonk and their second album.
Heck, the Seekonk album Burst & Bloom released this week, Pinkwood 2, was originally released two years ago and was in the can a year before that.

Why should anyone care?

Maybe we're not collectively that cynical yet. As artistically satisfying as it was for Seekonk to release Pinkwood 2 originally as a limited run of 100 pieces of vinyl, they really were depriving the larger populace of a fairly grand musical experience. Now, thanks to Burst & Bloom (it's a limited run of 100 CDs this time around, but they'll make more if you buy them, I'm fairly certain), there's a whole new opportunity to experience a gifted band at the height of their powers.

Described often as slo-core, or even orchestral indie, it's true they share an aesthetic with Low or Mazzy Star at times, but even if this band were doing nothing but covers, I suspect they'd be worth listening to. Each note is so carefully chosen, placed, and positioned. Seekonk offer such a whole and inclusive world in which to reside. Their sound fits effortlessly into that sweet spot of familiar and brand-new.

Is it the pacing that makes a Seekonk song? No. "For a Reason," with a digital effect like a UFO landing and taking off, is downright manic in its beat, with xylophone like drops of water off the trees onto the roof an hour after the thunderstorm ended. By the finish it's a straight-up head-nodder.

Seekonk are more than a quiet band to get moody to.

Perhaps what they do best is challenge expectations. They open Pinkwood 2 with "The Rage," a song that ironically begins lushly and gently, with pinging xylophone and Sarah Ramey's breathy vocals assuring, "it's nice to meet you."

You find the rage, but only if you keep looking. What is rage when you don't seem to know what aggression is?

Maybe it's in the digital whirring that purposely mars the pop sensibility with a touch of discord, just as the band throw in sour notes as though to keep things from getting too pretty. "Take the records off the shelf," Ramey implores, "throw them away." Only a band this confident would bring in this late-song electric-guitar riff, before quickly taking it away.

There are bands that would craft whole songs from that riff. For Seekonk, it's a passing fancy, the type of thing Pat Corrigan or Todd Hutchisen seem to effortlessly dream up.

"Half Moon," a good stand-in for the essence of Seekonk, is delicate and serene, methodical without being plodding. To the fore is an acoustic-guitar strum, a keyboard mirroring the vocal melody, but there's a sheen of feedback and screeching that's just out of earshot, as though there was traffic in the background as you listened to the song on the bus with your earphones in.

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Mazzy Star, Sarah Ramey,  More more >
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