“Be Honest And Fear Not” is the fourth album by Windings from Limerick, Ireland released on the Shannon estuary’s homegrown label, Out On A Limb Records.
Preceded by 2012’s “I Am Not The Crow” which saw Windings braving the Atlantic to record at Montreal’s renowned Hotel2Tango. The band’s current set-list shows a definite maturity not only in terms of songwriting, but also shows a band who can execute the gallant axiom ‘Be Honest And Fear Not’ with firm roots, and a seriously tight live show that translates equally well on record. ‘BHAFN’ sees Windings puckish and playfully pruning their sounds in the face of a malevolent media-saturated world of mediocrity, as surmised in “Boring”, ‘I get confused with celebrating mediocrity/Constantly searching for the next smart thing to say/Now this is getting boring’.
Ambivalence Blues opens the album with a escalating pendulum-like tapping that collects instruments as the song develops and piggy-backs a lovely folk melody that seems to speak of the artist’s conflict with the modern music ‘industry’ in the lines, ‘See us kneeling on your filthy stage /Crying out on your radio stations/We just wanted to have the chance/To put a little noise in the air’. It is musically climactic, dynamic and shifts gorgeously into the song hook; a darkly comical pop refrain wrapped up in twisted and distorted layers of guitars and synths, ‘And when it comes to meeting new friends/Try not to think of it as making up numbers for your funeral.’
Overall, I find a very Sonic Youth-heavy influence on this album (in a good way), possibly circa the 1990 ‘Goo’ and 1992 ‘Dirty’ era. This offers Windings plenty of scope to pave a rich sound that is dynamic, experimental and chockablock with musical influences; one of the best parts of having a five-piece band I imagine. If I had to pinpoint a guess I’d say sounds from songs like ‘Kool Thing’ or ‘Tunic (Song for Karen)’ dominate the mood here, most notably on the synth/keys section. The songs ‘Boring’, and the latter part of ‘I’m Alarmed’ particularly bring it home for me, along with some sublime rhythm and riffage throughout these songs that conjure up a definite love for old school rock like The Who, and the more synthy textures that you might find in Grandaddy‘s, ‘The Sophtware Slump’.
‘Stray Dogs’ literally could have been a Grandaddy tune. It opens with a lonely guitar and vocals that carry the song throughout but give a great opportunity for lead singer/guitarist Steve Ryan to utilise the studio room sound bringing a beautiful gloss to the recording. Windings quickly envelope the whole sonic spectrum with ghostly guitar wails, noise and shrieking note bends like a sort of apparition hell bent on retribution. This song, along with the first video single ‘You’re Dead’ (provided by Stephen Boland), certainly go places that are uncharted by the bands previous work, or at the very least only touched upon by the latter part of their album, “I Am Not The Crow” released back in 2012. They are both highly textured, nocturnally brooding tunes with ‘You’re Dead’ displaying some lovely resonating tremolo guitars and bass riffs.
‘A Better Place’ is one of the more light-hearted pop moments on the album. It is highly melodic and tuneful with lyrics that lament the past with a hint of nostalgia perhaps inspired in part by Ariel Pink’s, ‘Pom Pom’, ‘Flicking through pages from the past/Reading about things that couldn’t last/Giving up or saving face /There’s not much difference’. Overall really enjoyed the well-timed musical lull towards the end of this song as it leads into ‘You’re Dead’, as mentioned above.
The peculiarly titled ‘On the Passing of Sega’ is an all out Pixie-fest ala ‘Surfer Rosa/Something Against You’. It is a fast-paced instrumental rock tune that you probably might imagine playing along with Zool or some other ancient Sega game. It fires up the whole Windings gang again into full throttle before heading… calmly, into the final tune ‘Late Praise’. It is a personal and modestly written ballad, with backing vocals provided by Aoife Donnellan (also well worth your attention – check Soundcloud, she’s there!) and a harp plucked by Jean Wallace that give a melancholy warmth to the comely finale of a high calibre masterstroke of a record that is well worth every second of your time and hard-earned buck. Give it a listen. It won’t disappoint.
* WE BOUGHT THIS ALBUM ON VINYL AND DOWNLOAD… YOU SHOULD TOO!!
Check out more from Windings on bandcamp – https://windings.bandcamp.com/album/be-honest-and-fear-not
Breaking Tunes: http://www.breakingtunes.com/windings