Saturday, October 29, 2011

Light the Windows in These Places Let In

Rhode Island is one of my favorite bands that no one has ever heard of (especially in the United States), but I think they definitely deserve some more recognition. I've written about two EPs of theirs (that roughly go together in my mind) in the past because I was so moved by it. View that post here: Rhode Island - The Third Person/Internecine

I first heard this band in the early months of 2006 when they were featured on a BBC Radio 1 podcast featuring best new unknown artists. It was one of those instantaneous loves for me, listening to their song called "Big Two-Hearted River" on the train to work one morning.

Rhode Island takes their name from the early incarnation of Belle & Sebastian, who are rumored to have called the band as an early project "Rhode Island". Unfortunately, this is a nearly un-Google-able band name which maybe be why this particular Rhode Island has been obscured from more recognition. Perhaps they'd like to keep it that way.

Light the Windows in These Places Let Through is admittedly much more upbeat in sound and less melancholy in subject matter than the last two EPs of theirs which deal a lot with death, what happens after you die, and reminiscing about a lifetime of memories. The music is melodic as always, yet still reflective in ways. "Alcoholics" is my personal favorite from this album, however other standout tracks include "Change in Repetition" - a piano-laden track that recalls the likes of both John Lennon's solo work as well as the contemporary Field Music. "Good Morning, Captain John Lerro" is about the Summit Venture disaster on Tampa, Florida's Sunshine Skyway Bridge that led to the deaths of 35 people.

Such is Rhode Island; always intellectual with their lyrics, drawing inspiration from literature, history, and scholarly studies. After all, one of the guys in the band recently obtained his Doctorate in American Literature. Like a good book, re-listening to their albums is always a journey where you're always discovering new things along the way. "Shipwreck" is one of the only songs that feels slightly out of place from all the other songs on the album, only because it sounds like "Unforgettable Fire" era of U2, which is not to say is an insult --that album was one of my favorites in my high school years.

Light The Windows in These Place Let In itself comes from a quote by Arnold Newman, an American portrait photographer best known for his "environmental portraits" of artists and politicians. The exact quote states, " The subject must be thought of in terms of the 20th century, of houses he lives in and the places he works, in terms of the kind of light the windows in these places let through and by which we see him every day."

Perhaps this album is just that - a portrait of, and should be thought of a place, a house even. The kind of light the windows in these places let through.

Stream the entire album on their Bandcamp website for free or name your price on downloads of their music. This is also their first album that they have a physical, printed release for. Mine is coming in the mail shortly!

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