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Album  Reviews

SwitchBitch Noise - Online Music Magazine

Published September 23, 2015 by John Kiernan

 

Just in time for the leaves to change colors, the Woodstock based trio Highbeams release their sophomoric Folk Rock album, Everything Aside, a quintessential album for the autumn time.  Everything Aside combines Acoustic Folk Rock songwriting with a raw and honest performance from all of the performers. Following their 2014 debut album One Word, the musically passionate trio has released their latest installment of feel good, emotive compositions.

Everything Aside features compositions ranging from feel good alternative rock to emotive, unhurried acoustic ballads. Where standout upbeat tracks such as “Love Is Gone” and “Home In The Holler” raise the pace of the album, songs such as “Little Arms” and “Our Little Lies” utilize colorful, emotive fingerpicking passages to bring the album musical relaxation, creating a solid ebb and flow of emotions song to song.  The album showcases an honest lyrical and melodic vocal selection, which is complimented by a moving rhythm section.  The album’s cohesiveness in both production and composition is apparent from the opening track through to the final moments.  Whereas many artist releases are often overproduced and the instruments are separately tracked, Highbeams’ latest release retains an organic production that gives the impression that they recorded together.  Although the compositions mostly rely on acoustic guitar, bass, drums and vocals with some light extra instrumentation, the tracks do not leave the listener yearning for a fuller sound.  The instruments do a stellar job at filling the entire sonic space.

Highbeams’ Everything Aside is an album for the changing of the seasons, drinking hot cocoa next to the fire with loved ones, or just enjoying the music created by a trio of honest, emotive musicians.

 

Rating: 4/5

The Even Ground - Online Music Magazine

Published November 11, 2015 by Mike Przygoda

 

Everything Aside by Highbeams is an excellent album full of beautiful songs that are well sung, performed and produced.

“Tybee” opens the album with thick and full acoustic guitar strums. There are some gorgeous harmony vocals throughout (and good use of manipulation in the vocal tracks), subtle piano and a driving beat throughout. It’s an epic opener and it works. “Love Is Gone” is a chirpy Paul McCartney-ish folk song. Driven by a quick tempo the song moves from folk rock to a Mumford & Sons type stomp and then a rapid-fire vocal delivery. For a depressing lyric, there certainly is lots of joy and energy in the music, which works as a catchy and effective contrast. The end has a Lumineers-ish cheer and it’s a fun end to a catchy song.  

“Day Job” has a catchy melody and an Irish drinking song-like vibe. Clever backing vocals evolve into their own feature near the end of the song and there are some great piano chords that fill out each chorus. “Not Close Enough” starts with a flashy guitar pattern that continues throughout, bringing excitement to the folk rock melody. The tambourine through the chorus also adds some great drive throughout, and the instrumental breakdown shows off more of the nimble guitar playing.  

“The Cage” has a heart wrenching melody that lilts over a driving feel. The chorus is very well written with some accents over the descending bass line bringing out the groove. The instrumental is a little static, but short and the groove moves through it well. “Our Little Lies” is a melancholic folk song with mellow guitar and very fast lyrics. Again, the autotune over the vocals along with the quick attack loses some of the edge of the vocal delivery, and takes away from the intensity of the guitar strums and triplet-based drums. “Only Sunday” opens with a sound design of a beach before guitars come in strumming in 6/8 time. The lyrics are very direct, vulnerable and sincere, and they’re delivered with a very strong melody.  It’s an excellent example of strong songwriting delivered well. “Home In The Holler” has a hushed vocal throughout the verse that opens up nicely in the choruses. The song is driven by marching snare rolls, arpeggiated high-strung guitars and an excellent harmony vocal that lets the melody just soar. “Feels Make Believe” could be a lost song by Gordon Lightfoot with its folk melody and guitar pattern. The piano interlude adds a depth and richness to the song and helps build into the introduction of the tambourine and drums to really drive the song home.

Two songs miss the mark just slightly and for the same reason. “Little Arms” is a gentle ballad that has a bit too much auto-tune on it. The voices sound so good on their own that the technological intrusion feels unnecessary. Still, the melody sweeps up and down in a nice way over the chords and the rim click on the drums makes for a head-nodding groove. Unfortunately the instrumental goes on a bit long not adding a lot of content except for a great evolution of the drums. The lyrics are very smart, and adding a bit more attention to the music could really help them jump out. “One Down” contains some smart lyrics and a really interesting bass line. The evolution of the vocal effects is interesting and though not quite as effective as it might want to be, adds some development throughout so is commendable for that.

“See You Again” closes the album building from solo voice and guitar to stacked vocals and rolling drums that sneak in over a reprise of the first track on the album. The harmonic squeals make for a nice atmospheric whistle anticipating the higher ranges of the melody. The song explodes with the drums pounding the snare and crashing the cymbals in between rolling toms and the piano doubling the guitar arpeggios making for a swirling kaleidoscope of sound.

Highbeams writes very smart songs with great lyrics and melodies. The more they trust themselves and don’t rely on too many effects, the more their inherent talent shines just like their namesake.

I Am Entertainment - Online Magazine

Published November 8, 2015 by Shaine Freeman

 

Woodstock, Georgia based folk band, Highbeams, has released a pretty solid 12 song LP titled, Everything Aside. The release is an emotionally charged compilation of soul-stirring songs, that shine like the band’s name. On every track, the Highbeams deliver thoughtful and relatable lyrics that are among the best released by a DIY band this year. The sound on Everything Aside is comparable to the works of top folk acts like Mumford & Sons, Barton Carroll, and The Duhks (minus the female lead vocal). So, if you’re into these kinds of artists, this band and album should suit your musical tastebuds.

My favorite song on Everything Aside is, “Love Is Gone,” because of it’s upbeat sound and highly relatable subject matter. The song is all about a guy who is so in love with his lady that everytime she has to leave, he misses and thinks about her the entire time she’s gone. Every real man has met (or will meet) a woman who is everything he’s been looking for in a partner/potential wife, and it is at that point that he begins to feel each and every word being said on “Love Is Gone”. This 2:20 soundbite of life in song form will definitely capture the interests of any true folk music fan who has been looking for a great song to add to their playlist.

Overall, Highbeams are contributing positively to Georgia’s strong musical legacy. If the Highbeams are able to spread their wings and take Georgia by storm in 2016, I could definitely see them becoming another one of their state’s most well known and respected musical acts. The Highbeams’ new LP will satisfy any hankering you might have for good ole folk music. Other songs I took a liking to from Everything Aside include: “Home in the Holler”, “Our Little Lies”, “Day Job” and “The Cage”, in that order behind “Love Is Gone”. Each of these tracks provide substance and honesty, something that tends to be ignored in much of the music that flows from the hearts and mouths of many music acts these days. I would absolutely recommend you visit the Highbeams’ website to connect with and get familiar with this amazing young trio’s story and music.

RUST Magazine

Published July 22, 2014 by Eric Peterson

 

Recently, one of RUST Magazine’s top secret investigative listenening secret agents messaged us about a band with a cool sound, original and stylish material, and who put on a great live show. Highbeams truly is a band of brothers, comprised of Adam Pendlington, Ian Pendlington, and Stephen Quinn, and their new album One Word is a collection of indie folk-rock with a distinctive, likeable sound.

One Word follows up their 2013 release Keeping Tomorrow in Mind, and the band has been getting a lot of love playing regionally around their Georgia home base. In fact they self-recorded the album at home and it sounds great. The guys put a lot of effort into their music and the cd is a really nice overall package. Highbeams has crisp timing, gentle instrumentation and a wide range of thematic ability – they’ve got a good thing going and they’re sharing it through their music.

Highbeams is really a good example of where the music world is at right now. You’ve got talented, dedicated people like them out there just doing it. There’s an enthusiasm to what they do that carries over into their music, and we commend them on their moxy. Check out Highbeam’s new album One Word, it’s full of fun, folky rock with a fresh sound and an authentic positivity.