At the end of last week, Pitchfork released their People’s List, wherein 28,000 readers from around the world voted on their favorite albums of the last 15 years. If you’re not a regular reader of the site, then perhaps you are unfamiliar with my feelings towards lists. Needless to say, I have been wrapped up in exploring albums I missed from Jens Lekman, Drake, Band of Horses and many more. There is just a seemingly unending supply of great music out there, and it’s often hard for me to tear myself away from it. Finally, though, I turned to my OVRLD duties and put on the new record from Haun’s Mill – only to remember that Austin shoulders its own great-music-abundance burden.
I’m not suggesting that Away, the debut record from Haun’s Mill, is on the same level as Night Falls Over Kortedala or even Cease to Begin, but this is a solid debut from a local folk group. Haun’s Mill falls into the same general folk revival that Austin is experiencing with Hello Wheels, Whiskey Shivers, Cowboy and Indian and Wild Child. If you like yourself some banjo, stand-up bass and male/female harmonies, this record will appeal to you. Haun’s Mill would feel right at home on the railroad revival tour with the likes of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.Haun's Mill - 'Tonight'
And frankly, it’s their melodies. Sure, I like the instrumentation – sprinkled as it is with pianos and electric guitars – but some of the songs lag a bit and the production can be rough at spots. The sequencing doesn’t help either (“Away” and “Destruction” are two perfectly good songs whose sonic similarities are highlighted by being placed one right after the other on the album). But the melodies (and accompanying harmonies) really make the record. A song like “Look Up” doesn’t seem like it should stand out, but that damn melody gradually shimmies upward into a surprisingly rewarding chorus. The two standouts are easily “Tonight” and “Away”, each of which respectively lets Nord Anderson and Eliza Wren shine on lead vocals. They have an old-timey quality that is elevated from the kitsch they could be through the sincerity of the performance and the just plain good songwriting.
Away will be released to the public at the end of September, and you can catch them live next on Saturday, September 8th.