Album Review :
Families / Kevin Schlereth - Split

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Families / Kevin Schlereth Split

Label: Chroma Artist Collective
Release Date: February 1, 2019

Tracklisting:

  1. Clouds (Families)
  2. Friends (Families)
  3. Try Hard (Kevin Schlereth)
  4. Autumn Nights (Kevin Schlereth)

For a long time, split releases have sat at the heart of the DIY community, especially for the punk and hardcore scenes. They’re necessarily tied toward community, with bands offering mutual contributions on these often-brief releases.

For Chroma Artist Collective, the split is even more critical for its vision. The curated roster of artists have a powerful vision for the Gospel, for community, and for creating excellent art. This split brings two tracks from Families on the first half, capped off by two tracks from Kevin Schlereth.

The first thing to note about the cover art is that it’s very deceptive. It’s uncharacteristic for all parties involved, almost as if it were an old clipart file recovered unexpectedly. It’s simple, and it doesn’t carry too many specific connotations. It’s evident that it depicts the sun, but little other context is given. If anything, I hope this review encourages you to not judge this release by its cover.

Families presents the softer, more vulnerable half of the split. The two tracks revel in acoustic folk, paired with lyrics on bearing each other’s burdens. The group is known for their storytelling and incorporation of biblical narrative into their lyrics, and it’s not surprising to see the same care taken this time around. Male/female vocal trade-offs and careful piano arrangements help solidify this half of the split.

Kevin Schlereth wastes no time on his half: paired with fellow member Jay Costlow, the duo unleash what’s potentially their strongest track to date. “Try Hard” still has the traditional acoustic base you’d expect from Schlereth’s work, but it packs a punch. Mid-song, drums and electric instrumentation join the mix and strengthen an already-great track. Instrumentally and vocally, it’s infectious. All of the nuance truly pays off in the final quarter of the track especially. “Autumn Nights” is even more unexpected, opening with booming, arpeggiated synths. There are pockets where things calm down a bit, the oscillation between minimalist acoustic segments and roaring electronic passages is a bit jarring. It’s a good track ultimately, but it’s definitely the weaker of the two.

Chroma Artist Collective has much more music slated for the rest of the year, so this is a great starting point for new fans.

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