As the weather begins to turn from cool to cold, I tend to turn to warm fuzzy comfort music. Ironically, when I was younger this usually meant something that was just the opposite of light and happy, the sort of goth melancholy of bands like Dead Can Dance or David Sylvian. My coping mechanism for dealing with the long relentless winters in Ohio has been to but now it can include the calm of Simon and Garfunkle or The Sundays.
Finding new sources of dark or happier introspection musically has become something of a hobby for me around this time of year. One addition to my seasonal playlist is Winterpills. The Massachusetts based indie rock band makes the kind of calming music that recalls Simon & Garfunkle or Nick Drake. With just the standard drums, bass and guitar (sometimes electric), Winterpills made a timeless brand of rock that is low key, optimistic and inward looking.
Their debut self titled album was said to have been recorded in a big old house in Northhampton, MA. at a gathering of friends. Anchored by lead vocalist Philip Price and Flora Reed on backup. The five member band features a three part harmony that is beautiful without sounding too pristine. Like a Simon & Garfunkle tune, songs on Winterpills are seldom any faster than mid-tempo. This pervasive calm is reflected in lyrics that are passive and full of unplugged melancholy. Just the music for snowy days.
Not all of Winterpills influences are from the distant past. There a quite a few similarities to more contemporary sources. When he’s not sounding like one of the Posies, Phillip Price can sound a lot like Elliott Smith. Other influences become apparent depending on the song. “Want the Want” can sound like Low while “Cranky” and “Portrait” has a upbeat glow like The Posies. In all Winterpills might have a fixed tempo like Kings of Convenience but the songs on their debut have much more variety and in the long run can be listened to repeatedly without sounding as monolithic. I say bring on the cold!