[sic] Magazine

Ravenna Woods – Demons & Lakes

Close your eyes and the first track ‘A Devil’s Coming’ could be playing while the opening shots of The Shining are playing. Which, come to think of it, would be appropriate. Not that this brief track is creepy, it IS an establishing ‘shot’ though – and the mountain road to the Overlook makes sense to the feeling of a slightly ominous path the album may take into isolated territory. It’s not a Gothic album but a certain American Gothic sensibility is evident. It’s one of the most commercial Indie albums I’ve got my mits on this far but that shouldn’t be taken to mean it’s overly commercial – just a classically excellent record that I can imagine lots of UK writers getting excited about. To rather labour the cinematic metaphor this album is like a U.S. Indie film rather than a U.S. Indie album, when you’re in the Woods and the sun shines it’s breath-taking. In the Woods in the dark and it’s unnerving.

Some comparison to the UK’s Six Toes is valid, layered semi-acoustics and warm, vibrant vocals – although this is as ‘American’ as Six Toes are ‘English’. A river of bubbling acoustic guitar runs through this. It claps hands, it stamps feet (I even detect a little tap). The layered and harmony vocals provide the melody to a very percussive album (albeit frequently not provided by percussion instruments), two sides to a dream like state – again the light and dark. The harmonies remind me occasionally of Midlake (they could be round the same campfire). Stuff like ‘Simple Fates’ & ‘The Road’ will appeal to Super Furry’s fans. There is a slight feeling of Arcade Fires (the glockenspiel mainly) but without the annoying tendencies of that band.

‘An Atoll’, lyrically could refer to the past as a foreign country (island) but also brings to mind Bikini Atoll and it’s nuclear testing (interestingly I looked on their MySpace after this conclusion and saw a video for album track Ghosts features
Bikini Atoll). It could be pure reportage about an event in the writer’s life, it seems to bring to mind nostalgia and unease. ‘The Road’ would make an excellent single – it’s also hard not to imagine that book (now a film) isn’t some influence on the album, although the ‘first person’ in this song seems involved in some sort of Buddist suicide circle rather than surviving the Apocalypse. Equally single worthy is the scathing title track – only lyrically so, it still sounds lovely if featuring slightly angry rhythm. Failing that, the sublime ‘Goldrush’ that follows (and breaking 5 minutes the longest song here) would make an exceptional introduction to a very impressive act. ‘While The Town Is Sleeping’ is a marvellous closer cementing the feelings invoked by the rest of the album while showing a strength of purpose that will easily propel them to album two (hopefully by way of a few UK shows?).