Folk-shoegaze five-piece A Weather have been quietly lurking around since 2006, releasing The Feather Test 7 inch in 2007, followed by debut LP Cove the year after. This year’s Everyday Balloons, in keeping with the previous releases is out on Conor Oberst’s record label Team Love, and was produced by Adam Selzer who has worked with the likes of Norfolk & Western and M. Ward.
Their sound is akin to the lesser known cult band Carissa’s Wierd (I’ll introduce these guys in a feature soon…and nope, that’s not a typo!) who disbanded in 1995 and whose members went on to form Band of Horses and Grand Archives. Baltimore’s Wye Oak are another comparison, though their sound veers a little more into the post-rock than A Weather who remain a subdued shoegaze.
From Portland, Oregon the boy/girl vocal intertwining of frontman Aaron Gerber and drummer Sarah Winchester; combined with delicate metaphors whispered over soft instrumentation add a vulnerability to their sound; which feels like a gust of wind or exhalation could blow it away. The album unwinds like a secret revealed and pieced together slowly after subsequent listens as the hushed vocals search out a listener’s ears in the dark. This is not a record that will get your attention immediately, and I doubt it was intended to be. Its beauty lies in its subtlety, small philosophies “happiness is only real when you share it” (a nod to movie Into the Wild perhaps?) and unique observations, “God has his hands in every stand of trees that offer shade”.
An image denoting their sound is perfectly defined in “Newfallen” lyric “after the rain a shadow of brightness” and again in the album artwork. It’s this unique ability to create such optimism amongst a landscape of grey that permeates the album: an oscillation between pain and hope that allows the record to succeed on feeling alone rather than their creative progression from Cove, which is essentially just a continuation of the debut.
While it doesn’t disappoint old fans for being more of the same, and will be exciting and seemingly fresh to new listeners, Everyday Balloons takes only a few subtle steps away from its predecessor. Their character sound laced with electric guitars and pretty post-rock leanings on “Third of Life” and “Seven Blankets”, which at points gives way to a quiet anger, are really the only dents in their musicianship.
That said it is a success for what it is: both therapeutic and cathartic, the kind of music you can contentedly wallow in, finding some reverie in its beauteous melancholia. As songwriter Gerber himself stated A Weather’s sound “is an oddly inspirational document of transience and entropy [about] trying to keep yourself together when things are falling apart.”