Quiet Company, A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited

Quiet Company, <em>A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited</em>

“You can’t go home again”; that’s the adage, anyway. Apparently nobody told the guys in Austin indie-rock outfit Quiet Company, however, because they’ve done that very thing. Back in 2006, the band released their debut album, Shine Honesty, on now-former label Northern Records, to relatively favorable reviews, but once they parted ways with their label, the whole thing fell by the wayside and got nearly forgotten in the wake of the band’s subsequent releases.

Forging ahead, the band release the followup, Everyone You Love Will Be Happy Soon, in 2009, and then the EP-ish release Songs For Staying In the year after, all the while steadily building a name for themselves and gathering fans with their fragile-yet-powerful, multi-layered, sweetly uplifting indie-pop/rock and singer/songwriter Taylor Muse’s Ben Gibbard-ly delicate, shy-boy vocals. And then 2011 came along, and Quiet Company released the epic We Are All Where We Belong, a gem of an album that felt like the high point the band had been working towards all that time, with Muse critically examining the crumbling of his own faith and relating the story to the world.

We Are All Where We Belong cemented Quiet Company in the realm of Bands to Keep an Eye On for a lot of music critics, myself included, and I (and I’m guessing a lot of other people, too) assumed the band would keep moving onwards and upwards, building on the success they’ve seen so far.

Apparently frontman/songwriter Taylor Muse wasn’t completely ready to let Shine Honesty go, though. Rather than charge ahead into something new, he and his bandmates stepped backwards to re-release their debut album, which had gone out-of-print in the intervening years. And when I say “re-release,” I mean “re-record the whole damn thing from zero.” See, Muse saw a lot he didn’t like when he look back at those early recordings and realized he had resources now that he definitely didn’t have back then, and George Lucas-like, he thought, “hey, why not fix all that stuff, beef it up, and make it better?”

Thankfully, unlike Lucas’s hamfisted attempts at revisiting his past work, Quiet Company’s comes off beautifully. The newly-retitled A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited is polished and honed to perfection, with new touches like live strings thrown in where keys were in the original, and it’s imbued with the energy of the contemporary band, which functions like a damn machine throughout, crackling with passion and fire.

There’s a lot here that’ll sound familiar to Quiet Company fans, even those like me who didn’t get to hear Shine Honesty the first time around — tracks like “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” and “We Change Lives” fit right into place next to We Are All Where We Belong, while songs like full-on rocker “Circumstance,” the country-folk-y “So Gracefully,” and the Superchunk-like(!) “…and You Said It Was Pretty Here,” on the other hand, pull back the curtain on different parts of the band’s musical persona.

The latter, by the way, is one of a pair of new tracks — the other being the menacing-yet-pretty stalker-ode “Gun Control Means Using Both Hands” — the band’s tacked on here as a bit of an extra gift to longtime fans. Fear not, however, because they fit so snugly with the rest of the album that I thought they were originally on Shine Honesty ’til I re-read the press release.

It makes sense, in a way, that the band went back and took another stab at this, because all of Muse’s songs feel like they fit together, one after the other, album after album. It’s like a long, convoluted, warm-hearted conversation he’s been having with himself, viewpoints changing with every new verse. A Dead Man On My Back, then, is Muse coming full circle, bringing that conversation home to his seven-years-younger self with all the experience and maturation and knowledge gleaned from the years in-between. And that’s a neat thing to witness, right there.

(Feature photo by Leah Muse.)

[Quiet Company is playing 5/30/13 at Cactus Music (5:30PM) and then at Fitzgerald’s, along with The Features.]
(self-released; Quiet Company -- http://www.quietcompanymusic.com/; Quiet Company (Facebook) -- https://www.facebook.com/quietcompany; Quiet Company (Twitter) -- https://twitter.com/quietcompanytx)
BUY ME: Bandcamp

Review by . Review posted Thursday, May 30th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Quiet Company, A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: Quiet Company + Knights of the Fire Kingdom + The Wheel Workers + Lion Among Men + Peace, Love and Rescue + Runner of the Woods + More on October 4th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    […] debut album, Shine Honesty, not just re-releasing it but re-recording it and putting it out as A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited (and yes, it’s pretty great) — called Transgressor, and I’m pretty damn psyched […]

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