Seahaven, Winter Forever

Seahaven, Winter Forever

This may not surprise readers who are already fans of L.A. band Seahaven, but I’m going to say it anyway: guitarist/singer Kyle Soto’s voice takes some getting used to. When “Goodnight,” the first track on Winter Forever, starts, it comes in like loud, fists-in-the-air post-emo rock, pointing fingers backwards at the Foo Fighters, Taking Back Sunday, or Jawbreaker in equal measure.

And then Soto starts sing/talking, and things get a little weird. He does this half-mumbled, half-slurred, Southern-boy drawl, which almost makes it sound at first like he’s Scottish or Australian. It’s very much at odds with what my brain thinks it should be hearing over the roaring, fiery guitars and propulsive drums.

So I spend a large chunk of that opening song scratching my head, trying to figure out what Seahaven’s really about, and in the meantime the smart, bitterly heartbroken lyrics are working their way into my brain, popping up in my conscious mind just as I’m ready to shrug and give up trying to label these guys.

It’s just as well, anyway, because throwing the band into an easy box would be missing the point. They’re not hardcore, not emo, not post-emo, not indie-rock, and not pop-punk, but there are elements of all those things here. Take “It’s Over,” which rides a surprisingly rootsy-yet-distorted guitar and incorporates what sure sounds like a shaker, and comes out the other end like an updated Buffalo Tom.

Or then there’s “Slow Down,” which is almost funky and Reptar-like, albeit with Marshall-stack guitars roaring on the sidelines, and the awesome, awesome “Understanding,” which stutter-steps along blithely before punching the ceiling. “End of the World” has some excellently bleak quiet parts that bring to mind Modest Mouse circa The Lonesome Crowded West, and almost-closer “Honey Bee” is just plain quiet, bluesy folk, all somber and full of regret like a long-lost Iron and Wine B-side.

If Seahaven reminds me of anything, it’d be a tossup between Jawbreaker and the Alkaline Trio — neither band ever fit in their assigned boxes, either, preferring instead to just be “punkish rock” and lighting the rule book on fire. There’s a sharp, sharp bitterness throughout Winter Forever, too, that’s reminiscent of both those bands, particularly on “Thank You” or the heavy, moody “Black & White.”

Stepping backwards a bit, there’s also a weird resemblance to unsung Aussie emo band Blueline Medic (who, again, never fit into the comfortable little “emo” box), due in part to those oddly-accented vocals of Soto’s that I mentioned above. Squint at “Black & White,” specifically, and you almost feel like you’re listening to that band’s classic The Apology Wars.

Put all of those disparate pieces together, and Winter Forever becomes something else entirely, a quirky, intriguing, just plain neat chunk of snarling/swooning rock that stands amazingly well on its own. Its charms may take a little while to unfold, it’s true, but once they do, you can’t help but be hooked.

(Feature photo by Alvin Carrillo.)

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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, March 27th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Seahaven, Winter Forever

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: Seahaven + Balance and Composure + football, etc. + The Lotus Effect + Caddywhompus + Muhammad Ali + More on September 21st, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    […] Balance and Composure. I’ve been a fan of the band since first hearing their 2011 release, Winter Forever and falling hard for their Blueline Medic (look ‘em up, dammit)-meets-Modest Mouse emo-ish […]

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