September 8, 2010

Up "All Night" with Houses

Imagine losing your job without any idea of what to do next. Well, other than looking for another job. There’s also that romantic idea of moving somewhere tropical, living off the grid and enjoying what’s around you. It’s fun, but not something that’s easy to do with bills and responsibilities in the way. Not for Houses. They just took off.

It’s an admirable, albeit unsustainable idea. I’ve always dreamed of doing what they did, but never had the guts to see it through. It seemed on the whim, and one enormous leap of faith. Not much later, they were working and living in Papaikou, Hawaii, learning the basics of sustainable living.

More often than not, this lifestyle does not work out for most people. But Houses are not most people. After finally running out of cash several months later, they returned to Chicago, but not empty handed.. With them, they had a gorgeous snapshot of their time on the island, All Night, their debut on Lefse, due next month.

Rarely do I hear a record so elemental and effortless. Its title track is the sound of those first few moments of waking up on a spring morning while rays of sunshine bleed through the blinds.  Other moments are dewey eyed and bleary, like taking a long nap in the grass. Perhaps the freshness of these moments is best exemplified with “Endless Spring,” a glistening pearl where frontman Dexter Tortoriello’s vocals mesh beautifully with the sounds alongside them. The same goes for the harmonies provided by Houses’ other half, Megan Messina. This is consistent throughout: never once on the disc do their vocals feel put-upon. They’re just as organic as the field recordings they made in Hawaii.

These moments are bountiful on All Night. There’s “Soak It Up,” sounding devastatingly like a late Arthur Russell composition, “Wash,” with its deliberate rhythm would make David Byrne proud, and of course, the sweeping, resplendent surge of “Sleeping” and “Sun Fills”.

With that final fade, we’re back to the beginning again, if you see it that way. I don’t. It lacks a beginning and end point. It just simply exists. It was always there, just captured and put to tape at the right moment. That’s doesn’t happen too often in music, and when it does, like All Night, it’s something incredible.


Houses – Endless Spring (mp3)

Houses – Soak It Up (mp3)