Album Review :
Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same

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Artist: Deas Vail
Album: All the Houses Look the Same
Label: Brave New World Records
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

Tracklist:
1. Standing…
2. Light as Air
3. Surface
4. Rewind
5. Shoreline
6. A Lover’s Charm
7. Follow Sound
8. Anything You Say
9. Shadows and City Lights
10. For Miles to Come
11. Life in These Little Boats
12. This Place Is Painted Red
13. …Still

Everyone’s seen the piles of generic indie bands. Everyone’s gone to a show, visited a MySpace, or bought an album from the next “indie” styled rock act. And to be honest, everyone has been disappointed. It’s great for a few spins, and then it’s off to the next disc, the next live band, the next big thing (see track eight on MxPx’s The Ever Passing Moment), only to again grow bored and long for more. And yes, as I’m sure you’ve already expected, Deas Vail is one of the bands breaking this monotonous mold.

The first thing Deas Vail do to set themselves apart is the use of a piano. From the piano based “Standing…” to the chords of “Light as Air” to the laced melody of “Surface,” the piano/ keyboard finds many uses. It’s not overdone, and it sounds great whenever present. But keys alone are still not enough to give an indie record any lasting value in such an oversaturated scene. A band also needs a standout vocalist, one with a voice that is not only good, but different. Did I mention yet that Wes Blaylock is classically trained? “Shoreline,” one of my favorites, begins with Wes’s usual voice, somewhere in the upper-tenor range of Ben Gibbard or Andrew McMahon, but towards the end he unleashes a falsetto that not even Aaron Marsh could touch. This ridiculously well-crafted high voice is used for the majority of “A Lover’s Charm,” and the verses of “Shadows and City Lights,” as well as a variety of other times throughout this Brave New World debut. Yet with all these strong points, Deas Vail could still fall short for monotony. This, however, does not happen. “Anything You Say” is upbeat with a catchy chorus, while the chorus of “This Place Is Painted Red” will probably see lighters in the air at concerts, and strings are even added for the song’s climax. Then there’s “Rewind” with its sweet guitar work, and the light melodies of “For Miles to Come.” “…Still,” the last track, uses the same piano lines as the first track, “Standing…,” but the song is longer and of course has more closure.

All the Houses Look the Same is a release that shows all the indie CDs do not sound the same. Royal Empire Design did an excellent job with the design, and Mark Lee Townsend did an excellent job with the production. More importantly, Deas Vail did an excellent job recording something that floats, something that will stay in rotation in my player, and something that will hopefully build into a memorable career.

8/10

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