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Shores - Leavening Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 6.5
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 6.5
Production 6.75
Creativity 6.5
Lasting Value 6.5
Reviewer Tilt 6.5
Final Verdict: 66%
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Shores - Leavening

Reviewed by: Jason Gardner (08/20/12)
Shores - Leavening
Record Label: No Idea
Release Date: August 7, 2012


Suspended in slow-motion but still very aware of their melodically inclined, lush swirls of sound, Michigan’s Shores are, in all honesty, not a band I would normally listen to. As much as people enjoy music of the slower nature for relaxation and thought-provoking purposes, it just doesn’t generally fit my mood. But in any case, something about Leavening is provoking enough, regardless of its deliberate execution, to reel in and reward a pair of ears that might be willing to give it a spin. It’s a bit daunting and a little too caught up even for its own good at times, but in the dead of winter or after a long day’s grind, Shores might have a solid recipe for engulfing your ears with the attractive, yet delicate melodies and thought-out builds within this album.

Though Leavening is only eight tracks long, your average track length hovering in the six-minute range puts this at roughly 46 minutes of calculated bliss. Somber at times (“Hinges”, “Chagrin”) and subtly optimistic at others (“Chardonnay”), Leavening spends more time focusing on sparse guitars and arguably sparser drumming to paint the scene rather than intricate licks and dense sounds. It’s kind of like floating in water – at first you’re not really sure what to think, but as time passes you become accustomed to the surroundings and take them in with no filter. The busiest of the bunch, “Weak Trees” features a quirky drum lead that anchors the track in 3-3-2 waves accented by humming guitars and a smooth vocal line. And while the track progresses slightly in presentation, the almost stagnant motif of the track serves as a double edge sword. It shows both the strength of submerging melodies and the weakness of being unable to truly progress the song musically in one almost five-minute movement – a statement rather reflective of the album as a whole.

But in an album that texturally is almost so cohesive it at times overlaps in trying to remember it, a few points do stick out quite well. The guitar bursts and opening lines of “Broderick” are still stuck in my head even some time after first hearing them. The dynamic shifts on this track are enough to keep your head in the clouds even if the switches aren’t terribly different. “Greater Than” also makes use of being the shortest of the bunch at just past two minutes by perhaps equipping the simplest, yet strongest strums on the whole record – strangely enough losing the drums in what is another exercise in true immersion in the band’s sound.

For what it’s worth, Leavening is more than likely enjoyable under different pretenses better than others. While not the type of album you might jam for an entire summer, the ability to weave and suspend such melodies without completely losing us in progressive noodling or completely misplaced songwriting is a commendable one to say the least. And for that, Shores has succeeded in at the very least demonstrating they can get pretty close to that idea more often than not, making Leavening a rather solid effort for an often overlooked genre.
 
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