There seems to be a common theme developing within recent reviews for Restorations‘ Strange Behavior – the terrific four-song EP released last year by Paper + Plastick – which is that this Philly outfit plays music for “grown-up punks.” I’m not sure if that’s necessarily true as the band’s background, touring history and all-around response to its relatively short discography collectively point to the fact that its appeal spans generations of music fans. From hardcore, post-punk, shoegaze, americana, roots rock and even stoner metal, the overwhelming consensus that Restorations’ singular sound is difficult to pin down (though it’s fun to try) and originates from an undeniably earnest place – something that is universally easy to get on board with.
So from what I can tell, “grown-up punks” is merely a term used to describe what the band is not. It’s not music made solely for adults; on the other hand, you’re not going to find much in the way of buzz-saw riffs, throat-shredding screams or breakneck drumming. And if you’re searching for a record where playing loud and fast trumps playing well, I’d go elsewhere. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Restorations’ brilliant Self-Titled debut full-length isn’t exploding with passion and electricity (it is) and we’re certainly not inferring that these eight amazing songs won’t rip through your skull before knocking the wind out of you with repeated sonic gut punches (they do). What we are emphatically stating is that if you’ve been searching for a thoughtful, nuanced take on punk and indie rock – and all the sub-genres they entail – Restorations might just be your new favorite band.
Need proof? Listen no further than the stunning opener “Nonlocality,” with its atmospheric, spine-tingling intro, gorgeous harmonies and crushing wall of sound which closes out a track that feels nothing short of epic. For the album’s 33 + minute duration, Restorations follows a similar trajectory, creating songs that are intricately layered, tension-building monsters which lean heavily on a rhythm section that could probably knock a hole in the side of a Sherman tank. Still, that never takes away from the band’s ability to craft warm, stirring melodies, enduring hooks and dense, dynamic song structures. Cascading guitars, pulsing waves of reverb and spacey flourishes are held together by Jon Loudon’s raspy-yet-tuneful growl. His delivery is one that transmits confidence, wisdom and a bit of wear and tear – perhaps from years fronting post-hardcore heroes Jena Berlin – but he also sings with a soulful, youthful exuberance that feels like he genuinely loves the process of creating music.
Perhaps that is Restorations’ strength as a cohesive unit – that even though this Self-Titled record is a serious work of art with many subtle complexities, achingly intense moments of restraint and driving need to find a unique voice, it also resonates as if it were an absolute joy to write and perform. Even the pristine recording and production from Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart allows the band to maintain a raw, loose aesthetic and foundation-shaking low end that owes a much to the members’ punk and hardcore roots.
If we were to speak in metaphors, Restorations is like a menacing storm on the horizon, steadily rumbling across dusty plains and jagged mountains and enveloping everything in its path. Its impending arrival is a nail-biting experience and the anticipation is nearly as dramatic as the actual event, which in itself is a moving, white-knuckled affair. Pouring down dense sheets of cathartic sound, Restorations washes away the throngs of stale, unimaginative bands that pollute the once-inspired reservoirs of independent music and breathes new air into tired lungs.
Perhaps that’s why this Self-Titled effort speaks so loudly to us “over-the-hill” punk rockers. It’s not that Restorations is a band comprised of jaded old punks; it’s that some of us have been around long enough to hear (what feels like) everything music has to offer. Every once in a while we need a group to cleanse our palates and get us stoked on the scene again. For these ears – and I’m sure many of yours – Restorations is that band, and the term “grown-up punk” is not about leaving behind the fire of our youth but rather the exciting possibilities and new frontiers that years of experience can underline.
released 19 April 2011
Restorations is Carlin Brown – drums, Mike Drelling – bass, Dave Klyman – guitar / vocals, Jon Loudon – vocals / guitar and Ben Pierce – keys / guitar / vocals.
Restorations’ Self-Titled full-length was recorded by Algernon Cadwallader‘s Joe Reinhart (Monument, My Heart To Joy, Snowing) at The Headroom in Philadelphia, P.A. mixed by Jonathan Low (Dr. Dog, Danielson, Me Without You) at Miner Street Recorings in Philly and mastered by Dave Eck (Off With Their Heads, Dead Mechanical, Iron Chic) at Lucky Lacquers in Madison, W.I. Tiny Engines will release the 12″ LP version of the record – which features gatefold jackets with artwork / design by Bruno Guerreiro – on April 19th, 2011 while the digital version gets an early March 22nd iTunes / Bandcamp release from the label.
To find less in the big picture / To find strength in the details / To find the startling frequency / To find you on the same road / So tell me how you think it goes / So we can laugh in the aftermath / Under our breath / And help each other get through it
Track Name: West River
On the long ride up the west drive / Passing places I used to know / We’re all wired, twisted and storied / Glistening sheets of silver on silver / Plateau / Straight on until / Mulling over the different versions of the people I thought I’d be by now / Calling out to passing strangers / “How’d you get here?” and “Why’d you stay?” / Plateau / Straight on until / I’ve been counting people per second, mouths per minute and eyes by the hour / From a rooftop on the north side / As uncertain / As unsure / Plateau / Straight on until / Because sometimes nothing happens
Track Name: Neighborhood Song
In a town where the kids try their best to sound just like their parents / The parents can’t help but sound just like their kids / He says “Man, you don’t know me” / With a long late-morning stare / He says “I want you to know that you do not know” / I let it sink in / How I’m sinking / Unbound leaves in a black drawer / Dusty snow under a flickering light / All that white noise over the things we have catalogued / Will you free me from the days where this panic tears at my soul / Free me from the days where I don’t know my home / The song of the neighborhood / Sung like the song of the world
Track Name: Canadian Club
I’ve been writing on the backs of all these old postcards / Over what they say happened / Or what ever happened to / We met these kids in a blaze of bright ideas / I hear it never rains here / Or whatever was said / Says here it was colder in the southern states that year / Pent up fluorescence / Tiny fires in the air / Like a couple of kids aching for anything noon through the nighttime / Like a couple of kids with no known hometown / Like a couple of kids licking batteries in a soft suburban sunrise / Like a couple of kids with no known hometown / She says “I hope you survive your post-postcard life” / She says “So, tell me the plan…” / She demands a plan / I said my plan’s not to die
Track Name: Val d’ Or
These early May days make us crazy / These early summer nights drive us blind / To test the limits of the new year / To see how much, how far but never why / The endless parade / If it wasn't for the sound, don’t know where I’d be by now / Fireworks crest the cornices all across the north east / As these fiery thoughts thirst / Soaking in their summer heat
Track Name: Sideways House
Meet me by the new buildings / Future ghosts over past lives / Uncorked sentiment abounds / Staring through the ceiling / We were sideways / Positively crumbling / And I guess that’s what I miss about it now / When there’s nothing to owe / Both left as empty space
Track Name: Broken Vacuum
“You take too much” he says / “…from those big ideas.” he says / “Those men are all dead” he says / “And soon we will be too” / Then he says something like how he only smokes outside / “It blocks out the sun” he says / And disappears in a cloud / Nails to the bone / Piles of plans that never panned out / Nails to the bone / Wrote all these songs about a place I’ve never been / “Is it worth it?” she says / From across the water she says / “Is it worth it?” she says from a long way home / As I’m stuck inside watching her pack the car / “It blocks out the sound” she says / And disappears in a cloud / Nails to the bone / Piles of plans that never panned out / Nails to the bone / Wrote all these songs for a girl I didn’t know / In a low voice I mumble / “Hey man, I should go” / With a slow step I stumble out into the dark city streets / Nails to the bone
Track Name: When You're Older
This guy pushes right past me / Dragging his kid arms-length behind / Repeating “Listen to me son - we’re gonna be just fine” / They said I’d know when I was older / They said it would be abundantly clear / And if this is the secret / You can keep it / I keep hearing “we” / But they never asked me / Maybe its desire for displacement I’ve known / Or the storied promise that keeps me coming home / I’ll keep circling with sinners to forget about the winners / They say you’ll know it when you see it