The Dark Water Hymnal Offer Intelligent, Moving Folk Rock

I realized in looking at the lineup for this Friday’s Homegrown Live show at the Mohawk presented by 101X, I wasn’t familiar with any of the bands. I find myself encountering this problem often as a still-newish resident in Austin, trying to wrap my ears around the thousands of artists here. So this week, to help all of us here and all of you out there who may be encountering the same problem, we’ll be looking at each of the four bands that will be playing at the Mohawk on Friday night, starting with the Dark Water Hymnal.

DWH released their second album, Collapse the Structure, just three short months ago to fairly positive reviews all around. They were compared to the National and Broken Social Scene (which I totally see), the Arcade Fire (sure, I guess), Frightened Rabbit (I kind of see what you’re talking about), and 90s Brit rockers James (really?). No one could seem to pinpoint exactly what this band sounds like. And in truth, there are elements of all of these bands in DWH’s sound, along with the Rural Alberta Advantage, the Decemberists, and Austin’s own Sad Accordions. They have managed to combine all these influences into their own unique and intriguing sound.

Dark Water Hymnal - Chandeliers

DWH can really rock out at times, but they never overwhelm. They’re powerful but still somehow subdued. And they feel free within their songs to explore different styles and rhythms. “The Wind and the Waves” takes many twists and turns. “Black Confetti” comes back with a coda that bests the rest of the already-great song that came before it. The standout track, though, to me is “Chandeliers,” which has the feel of a more acoustic but just as anthemic “All My Friends” from LCD Soundsystem. In the aftermath of a crazy night/party, singer Jeremy Ballard finds himself under attack, “We’re all out of bullets, and they’re coming right for us, dear.” It’s a song that portends imminent doom but ultimately suggests a kind of rebirth in the face of that disaster. And it could have gone on twice as long and I would still love it.

You can get their full length here for a beyond-reasonable $5, and you can see them as the opening band on Friday night at the Mohawk for a mere $5 cover.