If you’ve been hanging around a bit, you may recall All Smiles‘ Ten Readings Of A Warning from way back in 2007 (or their second LP that slipped by me in 2009). You may also recall that the project was fronted by the renowned Jim Fairchild of Modest Mouse and Grandaddy fame. Fairchild is back and this time he’s brought along a few friends – Joe Plumber (also of Modest Mouse), Gary Jarman (The Cribs) and Danny Seim (Menomena). That alone is worthy of a double-take. All Smiles’ third LP is called Staylow And Mighty, and it is available now for download and via the cherished vinyl format.
With musical accompaniment from Plumber, Jarman and Seim, you can also expect these songs to be tight-knit and well-produced, and they are. It stacks up nicely next to the band’s previous work, doing precisely what you would expect from a third-time ’round: taking it to the next level. According to Fairchild, Staylow And Mighty is “an album that seems to be mostly about deciding it’s okay to live with ghosts.” This is not a haunting album, it’s one that expresses a general well-being — a satisfaction — with the present and an optimism toward the future. At least, that’s my take on it.
Things start strong with “Captives”, a — yes — slightly Modest Mouse-like guitar riff. But Fairchild’s vocals are soothing and filled with laid-back pop sensibilities. “Vigil Shaw” is dreamy and a borderline psychedelic style of folk-pop. While the vocals may or may not portray the hopefulness noted before, the melody certainly does. And these casually optimistic, relaxed melodies fill the music of All Smiles.
Staylow And Mighty might not excite you in the way your everyday hype band would. It’s too laid back and pleasant for that. What it will do, however, is dig into your soul, giving it the warmth and love you’ve been actively (or even subconsciously) looking for. It is an album perfect to take in via headphones, allowing every nuance to come forth — the guitars in “Where The Feathers Fell”, the near perfect off-beat melody of “Sun, Number One” (not to mention Seim’s stellar backing vocals), and the stripped-down minimal nature of the opening moments in closing track “Totem”.
Grab “Sun, Number One” below and head over to All Smiles’ website to download “Virgil Shaw” for the price of an email address. You can also purchase the album right from the All Smiles site.
Download: “Sun, Number One” by All Smiles
[Digital LP, 2011]
2. First Sign Of Snow
3. Trying To Wake You
4. Virgil Shaw
5. Escalon, Decades Ago
6. Where The Feathers Fall
7. Sun, Number One
8. Sun, Number Two
9. My Son, The Future
10. Diana’s Throne