Los Angeles has the Laurel Canyon neighborhood which helped transform the indie, folk, and folk-rock landscapes. Boston has… Well, Boston doesn’t quite the equivalent as Los Angeles despite having a rich and diverse music scene that extends beyond the capital of Massachusetts. With festivals like Boston Common and the nearby Newport Folk Festival, Boston and the New England area as a whole have quietly become a mecca for great music that extends beyond Irish-inspired folk and rock music (The Dropkick Murphys), classic rock (Aerosmith), punk rock (Pixies), or anything associated with Mark Wahlberg.
Case in point, Quilt, the four-piece outfit that has been oozing out stunning (and even at times quirky) indie-rock for nearly eight years. Their third and latest album, Plaza, is the quartet’s best. Plaza is filled with the intimacy and lushness heard from that West Coast back in the ’70s, but achieved with a sense of modernity. Each track has an extra layer or texture – whether the incorporation of strings or rich harmonies – giving the songs a fuller sound that is at times more technocolor and at other times like an avant-garde film. The sweet wistfulness that radiates throughout the ballad that is “Padova”; the enchanting psychedelia heard on the album’s excellent opener “Passersby” and later again on “Your Island”, which shimmer with the sound of a desert’s vastness; and the blissful harmonies and melodies of “O’Connor’s Barn” and “Eliot St.” exemplify Quilt’s reinvention. They are songs that take you back to the past yet transport you to a times where possibilities still exist.
There is much more complexity to Quilt’s music than just reinterpreting a specific time and place. “Roller” showcases the band’s ability to create a controlled and stunning psychedelic burner. “Searching For” and the excellent closer, “Own Way”, are the band’s mini-anthems. They infuse the jangle-pop sensibilities of the Melbourne, Australia scene (think Dick Diver) with southern folk-rock. They are the two songs on the album where the band could really let it loose live, but even on the record it’s a scintillating experience.
Plaza, in its entirety, is an immersive experience. It is an album that The New York Observer rightfully calls it Quilt’s most confident to date. And with such a brilliant album, the fine people of Boston will need to come up with a word to characterize Quilt’s masterful work to call the genre its own. There is still time, though, for as co-frontman John Andrews sings on “Own Way”:
Don’t be afraid it’s only an end, which is only a saying, so begin tomorrow.
And Quilt aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, or so we think. When John Andrews (vocals/drums), Anna Rochinski (vocals/guitar/organ), Shane Butler (vocals/guitar), and Keven Lareau (vocals/bass) are creating music as timeless as heard on Plaza, they’ll be with us well beyond tomorrow. Maybe by then, we’ll think of codifying their magnificence.
Featured photo by Daniel Dorsa.
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