Seabird – ‘Til We See the Shore
Release Date: June 24, 2008
Record Label: Credential Recordings
Cincinnati is not exactly known for being the music mecca of the Midwest. Far from it. In fact, beyond fostering the likes of Bootsy Collins and Nick Lachey, we don’t really have much beyond the half success of Bottom Line to hang our hats on here. So alas, we eat our delicious chili in peace, and wait patiently. But when a good local musical act does come around, the people of the Queen City take notice.
This has been the case for Credential’s Seabird, who got their start in Cincinnati back in 2004. Taking a look at the band’s list of early tour mates, it should be of little surprise that on their debut LP, Seabird sound like a more mainstream-fixated Lovedrug, with perhaps subtle splashes of Muse, Coldplay, and Aqualung mixed in for good measure. And while bearing a striking stylistic resemblance to Lovedrug on the surface, the Morgan brothers, along with help from Chris Kubik and Aaron Hunt, craft piano-centric jams without the macabre majesty of Everything Starts Where It Ends, and also avoiding the unfortunate grunge of The Sucker Punch Show. Aaron Morgan emulates Michael Shepard quite obviously, but with considerably less vibrato, and tosses in a pinch of Matt Bellamy for good measure.
With these components, the fabric of the individual tracks does not provide a multitude of surprises, you can say. With “Apparitions” sounding like a twinkling Absolution-era Muse number, and others echoing similar sentiments, the results are predictable, but still sure-footed. “Not Alone” treads on more accessible turf, with verses and a bridge sounding right out of Pretend You’re Alive, and an even keener pop ear on the infectious chorus. And of course, having made cameos in many TV dramas to date, “Rescue” has a similar pedigree, justifying the attention the tune has received. “Let Me Go On” then starts off a little flat, but turns the tables with another huge hook, and the piano/banjo 1-2 punch on “Stronger” shows off a brilliant new twist on a well-established style.
Of course, novelty on piano-rock records tends to be confined to a smaller subset of a record's tracks, and ‘Til We See the Shore is no exception. The band first stumbles on “Cottonmouth,” which has a dynamic Morgan singing in sonic disagreement over a decidedly flat musical backdrop – a lull which carries over for most of the album’s remainder. Some salvation is found in the delightful restraint of “Falling for You” but not enough to capture the album’s earlier momentum.
All in all, Seabird do a pretty good job of injecting some life into what can be a stale and tepid genre. At times, however, they seem to seem to throw a bit of everything into the stew at the same time – key/tempo changes, meandering melodies and such – and often for no clear purpose. When the band keeps their songs tighter and more focused, they are indeed capable of transcendent results. While ‘Til We See the Shore might not be the record to put Seabird on the national map and the tips of everyone’s tongues, songs on the record by themselves most certainly are. That’s a pretty good start, I’d say.