A BROTHERHOOD Garzone, DeCosta, and Kennedy.
The Famous Winters co-founders Alex Garzone and Sean Kennedy delivered an eclectic introduction to their new venture last summer with the EP Carnival Sky (free download at thefamouswinters.bandcamp.com). Following a brief tenure as rhythm section for the Silks, percussionist Garzone and guitarist/singer Kennedy sought to hone their songwriting chops.
Wilco and the Beatles came to mind while spinning the four songs on Carnival Sky (locally, think somewhere between the Tower & the Fool and Propellers). This is uniquely good stuff from the start; on the opening title track, Kennedy's vocals slowly awake on the opening line, "Day job, seven o'clock, breakin' my heart/It's all I do." The piano break midway through somehow reminds me of Handsome Boy Modeling School. When looking up the Famous Winters, start here. The band's bio notes that Kennedy's lyrics "speak to the every heart of the human condition," and his vocals work in perfect tandem on "Forever That Boy."
"That one's pretty personal," Kennedy told me when I caught up with him and Garzone earlier this week. "Most of the time I think I'm a worthless fuck, but that day I decided to be poetic about it. It's about waking up every day and having no idea who you are." Kennedy comes in with a little extra ache in his tone: "Forever that boy with nothing to do but think about things he wishes to prove/in a manner that doesn't say much about who he is."
On "She" I couldn't help but think of Elliott Smith and Jeremy Enigk when Kennedy serves up a raspy drawl: "She's gonna start by losing herself, and I'm trying hard not to help." When a Boston outlet asked Sean Kennedy about the lyrics on the EP, he said, "It's about being creative with your honesty, inventive with your sadness." When asked to describe TFW's sound, Kennedy offered "melodancholy rock." I had to follow up on that one.
"Hey, anything but 'alternative,' right?" Kennedy cracked. "As far as trying to sound different — we want to be strange and unique without being unlistenable, but doesn't everybody?"
A few months after releasing the EP, Garzone and Kennedy recruited bassist Matt DeCosta, who had been a regular at their gigs. "We played a show one night at the Salon and Matt showed up on his bike, soaked in some sweaty rain shit," Kennedy recalled. "We were both like 'Fuck, this kid's serious.' At this point, it would be weird to think of the band without him," he said.
Keeping it all in the family, the band just added Matt's brother Mike as keyboardist and official fourth member. They're currently in a Queens, NY, studio wrapping up another four songs, with plans for another free release via the web later this year.
"It seems like the band has gone through another maturation period," Garzone said. "It's becoming a brotherhood and we like the way things are going, and I think you see that come out of us at our shows."
THE FAMOUS WINTERS + WOODSY PRIDE + ZACHARY CALE + SOUNDS LIKE FUNERAL MUSIC | Saturday, January 14 @ 9 pm | AS220, 115 Empire St, Providence | $6 | 401.831.9327 | as220.org | With THE TOWER & THE FOOL + MANSIONS + THE FRONT BOTTOMS | Thursday, January 26 @ 7 pm | The Spot Underground, 15 Elbow St, Providence | $8 adv | 401.383.7133 | thespotprovidence.com