Smile Politely

Waterfowl’s debut offers hope and despair

Local folk-rock group Waterfowl‘s debut album features some steady blues-influenced melodies along with some smooth guitar solos which overall makes for a very easy going and enjoyable listen. Waterfowl is not going to blow you away with anything experimental or in-your-face, but the more pleasant sounding folk-rock tunes could be just what you need to hear during a bleak midwestern winter.

Waterfowl has been making music in C-U for a few years now — the 4-piece band is made up of Mike Daab on bass, Mitch Holmer and Brad Olson on guitar, and Theo Long playing the drums. The group first released a demo entitled Endless Winter back in February of 2014. Since then, they’ve played around town at places like Cowboy Monkey, Mike N Molly’s the Iron Post, and elsewhere.

In late October of this year they released their debut album as part of a double album release party with Penny Horses, another local alt-country band that have recently released their debut album. (Come to mention it, Waterfowl will be playing with Penny Horses again on January 9th at the Loose Cobra in Tolono.) A lot of similarities can be drawn between these two up-and-coming bands, both draw heavily from the musical traditions of Americana — including blues, country, and folk. While Penny Horses are a little bit more upbeat and country influenced, Waterfowl’s music is more downtempo and draws more heavily from folk music.

According to Waterfowl’s Bandcamp, the album was recorded in a “farmhouse on the county line, filled with hope, despair, fire, and noise” and features a “unique mix of folk, rock and roll, and other sounds native to midwestern Americana”. There is certainly a good dose of hope and despair on this album with tracks like “Imposter” and “Old Guilt”. The album features some really nice slide guitar licks, especially on “Fire”. For me, the standout track of the album is “Foghorns”, which starts off with a nice steady bit of guitar and then slowly builds up to a nice chorus: “how does it feel on the high road? / I hope you find yourself a friend”, and then midway through the song comes the really delightful guitar solos. For the most part the album consists of downtempo blues-influenced songs that sometimes lack real energy, one exception is “Moline” which brings some urgency with the vocals.

Waterfowl’s debut album contains mostly smooth and easy going songs that make for an album that is very easy to listen to. That being said, there is not a lot on the album that is really going to make the music jump out at you and demand deeper listening although there are hints of a more edgy, daring approach in songs like “Moline” and “Fire”. For me, this album evokes feelings of home and living in an area where the winters are cold and bleak, and the landscape is flat and lifeless. Alongside this despair, there is the hope that you will find some comfort and warmth in the music of this album, this sentiment can be heard in “Tennessee”, :”if you find the road back home, you can rest your weary bones”.

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