Neighborhood of Make Believe - Two Nighttimes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Neighborhood of Make Believe - Two Nighttimes

by Carrie Grayson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-11-16
Neighborhood of Make Believe - Two Nighttimes
Neighborhood of Make Believe - Two Nighttimes

Remember when Mr. Rogers entered his cozy house and quickly exchanged his stiff jacket and fancy work shoes for a soft zippered cardigan and worn tennies? The king of kindness and compassion on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood embodied the ability to create a safe space for the exploration of some pretty deep subjects when visiting the imaginary space called The Neighborhood of Make Believe. The band with the same name mirrors this concept but instead of entering by way of a red trolley and its clanging bell, they use a vibrant trumpet and delightful neo-gypsy folk to travel you through their lyrical exploration of life’s curious questions.  

Neighborhood of Make Believe is a new emerging five piece band: Alex Muro on guitar and vocals, Adam Muro on bass, Louis Apicello on trumpet, accordion, and vocals, Ryan Stewart on drums and Richard Nolan on guitar. Their first full length album, Two Nighttimes, will be released on November 16th via Five Kill Records. After listening and exploring the album, it is easy to see the musical connection to their unusual band name and the safe space they create within their spirited music.

Each track is sonically diverse and feels exuberant with welcoming blasts of brass throughout. Two Nighttimes carefully balances lyrically heavy content with luminous instruments, weaving them magically. All of the songs explore questions which are more poetically thoughtful and less of a personal narrative, giving the album a universal appeal where one can dive deeply into a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and conjure up connected experiences. The songs explore interesting questions, like...What is the difference between loneliness & solitude? Is being cynical wise or is being idealistic naive? Can you accept fate with humility? Does a dog have buddha nature?

NOMB has intimate, conversation-style vocals and a wailing trumpet which hints at the sound of indie favorite, Neutral Milk Hotel. Comparisons can be tricky, but some elements pop up which definitely remind me of NMH’s indie folk and pondering wordy style. Other comparisons could include Beirut or Okkervil River, because they each add brass and accordion to their music, providing a fresh take on Americana.

Of the 12 songs on the album, none disappoint, but the essential listening tracks are “Track Names,” “Travelling Standing Still,” “Between Two Nighttimes Part I,” and the final song, “It’s All Wrestling”. A stand out song is “Track Names”, and it begins with a simple guitar and conversational, Dylan-esque vocals. Once you are caught up in the lyrical journey, Apicello’s soothing trumpet plays a repeated little composition which soars and pushes forth to odd, off-kilter guitar plucks. They each lead to a sing along of echoey choruses and meld together, reaching a rich crescendo. So despite the lyrical search for meaning and existence, the vibrancy leaves the listener with a sense of comfort and elation.

On a similar vein, “Between Two Nightimes Lightening Part 1” has an orchestral soundscape, but discusses life, death, and facing our own ebb and flow with our eyes wide open.

 

“Let’s not fool ourselves.

Let’s not be proud.

We must welcome what’s coming,

with a tenderness found…”

 

Muro explains the song, “It is about how a moment can forever divide time into before and after, and a meditation on how to gracefully handle moments that might change your life forever. Inspired by the work of the Spanish nobel laureate Vicente Aleixandre.”  

Vicente Aleixandre wrote poems illuminating man's condition. “He also praised the beauty of nature by using symbols that represent the earth and the sea. Many of Aleixandre's early poems are filled with sadness. They reflect his feeling that people have lost the passion and free spirit that he saw in nature.”  This same intensity surfaces repeatedly in Two Nighttimes.

“Travelling Standing Still” is the definite outlier on the album, it begins with complicated guitar picking, then they layer tight drum sequences, accordion and trumpet exclamations, and running lyrics sung with vocal defiance. A bold full band sound, it is sung as a ballad that conjures up the energy of a full on circle dance, with clapping hands and stomping feet. Despite all of the musical euphoria, the lyrics tell a darker story. NOMB has the ability to vividly contrast the music with the lyrics. Multiple listens are encouraged to grasp the thoughts and appreciate the depth.

Alex Muro charms with his unplanned crackling voice and, what I imagine to be, his apparent shoulder shrugging on the final song, “It’s All Wrestling”. An expressive song with a powerful rhetorical question, “What can you believe?”, is accompanied by a sighing trumpet making an emphatic point. Perhaps times are changing, but maybe not the way we want them to change. The final song questions the absence of truth today and the pounding rhetoric of fear. It asks us to determine our own truths, look inward, and to simply focus on what we can change, all in a brooding anthemic style.

 

“I’ve been, but a child

standing at the shore

finding pretty pebbles where the great ocean lies before.

And it’s much better

to do a little with certainty

leave the rest for others

don’t try to explain everything…

What can you believe?”

 

The entire album is poetic and weighty with a balanced musical lightness. It makes me wonder, who reads a poem only one time and is able to extrapolate deep meaning? Just as you should give a poem multiple reads, Two Nighttimes takes many visits and multiple listens. Only then, can you truly appreciate their thoughtful wordy textures and vivid kaleidoscope of sound.

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