Tender Loving Empire
When I first heard Typhoon was a big "epic"-sized band, I'll admit I wasn't exactly super-excited to hear what the talk was all about. Even I, the only guy who thought Sufjan Stevens' most recent album was the best album of 2010, was beginning to become weary of bands who claim to be "bigger-than-life". Maybe its just the Oregonian in me talking, but Portland's Typhoon newest EP has seemed to have revived my faith in the power of "big" once again. Typhoon, more than any other band I've heard of recently, is most certainly that. Featuring 12 band members that could function as their own personal marching band, Typhoon has all the symphonic intricacy of a Sufjan Stevens arrangement and all the communal energy of Arcade Fire's Funeral all contained in a relatively short 5-song EP.
Fortunately, Typhoon relies on their big size in a way that feels musically fundamental to their sound instead of getting in the way of the songs. So when you hear the mariachi-style horns or the crowd of people singing in the opening track, "The Honest Truth", you're hearing the real thing. A New Kind of House is the followup to last year's full-length, Hunger and Thirst, and finds the band becoming a much more cohesive band in the studio. Creating what frontman Kyle Morton calls "walls of sound", A New Kind of House feels like more of a family than a band at times. Their familial themes and lyrics left a heavy impression on me, often leaving me wanting to be adopted and sing right along with them. The fact that they tour in 12-passenger vans and live together in a single studio apartment proves that these guys aren't just adopting some kind of trend: they live it.
You'll notice that at times these songs can sound messy and even a bit crowded at points, as if their big sound didn't quite fit in between the two audio channels on your headphones. And while I'm sure this will turn off some, these songs are full of great moments that only a band this big could produce such as the soaring melody in "Kitchen Tile" or the punchy breakdown in "Claws, Pt. 1". The mix does a great job of bending and fumbling through the montage of instruments, highlighting different parts of this indie-orchestra at different times, but still often keeping the big picture in mind. And while the EP is a bit shorter than I would have preferred, that is always the sign of a good thing. According to Morton, A New Kind of House acts as something of a bridge in between Hunger and Thirst and what comes next. Judging from their recent appearance at SXSW and their plans to begin working on their next full-length this summer, I think its fair to say that this EP isn't the last you'll be hearing from Typhoon.
Typhoon - The Honest Truth