Band: Awaken, North Wind!
Release Date: Feb. 20, 2009
Review By: Scott L
Have you ever had one of those vacations where everything was so fun and went so perfectly that you actually resented having to come back to the real world when it was over? “Doubt”, the ten song CD released earlier this year by the Erie, Pennsylvania based 5-piece, Awaken, North Wind! is a whole lot like that vacation. The music sweeps you up and carries you along with it. Sometimes gently urging you forward. Sometimes dragging you on, powerless to resist. You’ll love every minute of it. And honestly, you’ll wish it could last forever.
Now there are a number of angles from which I could approach this review. The ebb and flow of the CD itself. The skill of the individual musicians. The profundity of the message. Or even the fact that Awaken, North Wind! are not only musicians… but artists. Artists painting in broad strokes on a lyrical canvas that is at once ethereal and yet provocative. And if you’re at all familiar with the state of today’s musical offerings, you’ll know that’s a real rarity.
Awaken, North Wind! is definitely not a carbon copy of anything I’ve heard before. So fitting them into a certain category or musical style is somewhat elusive. Self-described as indie-ambient-progressive, I’d add on a touch of post-hardcore. Post-hardcore lends more of the actual musical style rather than just the overall feel of the music itself. Think twothirtyeight’s general vibe but with a sometimes edgier delivery. So maybe, twothirtyeight meets Cursive. I think that would be about right. Add to that some insanely heartfelt lyrics and you’re making beautiful music. Well, you’re not… but they are.
Speaking of lyrics, I appreciate the fact that these guys aren’t afraid to ask hard questions. And on top of that, they steer clear of the cookie-cutter, formula answers. The moral of the story here is that God’s not nervous about your questions. Or your doubts, for that matter. And these guys manage to portray that with both sincerity and respect. Take the track “Intentions” for instance, “we are beautiful / and yet we hide our faces / so no one can see the scars / we have smiling faces / but you can bet we’re frownin’ / and cryin’ in the dark / we have good intentions / but you can bet I’ll milk you / for everything you got / we are who we are / but you can bet I’m dyin’ for everything I’m not” or how about the CD’s big finale, “Afraid”, a brooding masterpiece, “there’s no more air inside my lungs / and I start to realize it’s over for me / now I start to look around / and I cannot believe my eyes / the angels singing glory to a God that I denied / He is staring at me now / I am alone / I am afraid / I am ashamed” Reading the lyrics, however, doesn’t do these songs justice, you really just have to listen to them. It’s heady stuff. True unashamed introspection… what a novelty in the day and age we live in.
I’ll let them speak for themselves on that, “After being a part of many touring and local music endeavors over the past several years, we’ve decided that it is time to put every last ounce of time and effort into what we should have been doing from the start: making the most honest music we possibly can. There is not enough honest music in this world, and we are here to say it is ok to not have all the answers. It’s alright to be confused with this world that we live in. It’s ok to see our own imperfections and still know that we are all beautiful.”
The standout track for me was the final track on the CD. Lasting about 11 1/2 minutes, “Afraid” carries the weight of an old-school rock opera and is honestly one of the most powerful and intense songs I’ve heard in a long, long time. It defies explanation. Suffice to say, that you really need to check it out. In spite of it’s length it breezes by for the most part. But there is a point towards the end where you expect it to end. You’ll almost want it to end when the realization sets in of what exactly is happening in the song. But it just doesn’t stop. Which, I think, is exactly the point. Confused yet? Listen to it. It’ll all make sense.
If I had to sum this CD up in a single word, it would be the word “haunting”. That’s not to say that a wealth of other superlatives don’t come readily to mind, it’s just that haunting is the most fitting. But not the eerie (no pun intended) kind of Halloween haunting… it’s the kind of haunting that grips your thoughts and is hard to shake. Throughout this CD, you know that there’s so much more here than what floats on the surface of the music. And some of it… you’re gonna have to work for. That’s not to say that a listener couldn’t enjoy this CD without taking the time to consider the depth of what Awaken, North Wind! has put together… but they’d be missing so much. Is the CD faultless? No. But everything works. And works well. Am I just banging a drum over a free CD? Hardly. All I’m saying is that in the end the CD as a whole is more than the sum of it’s respective parts.
Overall: If you’re any kind of fan of smooth ambient alt-rock, you owe it to yourself to check Awaken, North Wind! out. “Doubt” is ten tracks, roughly 50 minutes, and will grip you with an intensity you may never forget. Enjoy.