It is not every day that a band from Kent, Ohio has its original songs sung by such indie legends as Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse, Ugly Casanova), David Bazon (Pedro the Lion), John Atkins (the Magic Magicians, 764-Hero), Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), Kate Eastburn (Young People) and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic). Then again, the Six Parts Seven led by brothers Allen (guitar) and Jay Karpinski (drums), Tim Gerak (guitars and samples), Brad Visker (bass), Matt Haas (lap steel, high-lonesome guitar) and Steven Clements (grand piano) are not your typical sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll band.
Perhaps it has something to do with the band's cathartic style, or simply their desire to collaboratively create and produce heartfelt and unobtrusive music. Formed from the ashes of the Old Hearts Club, the Six Parts Seven sweep listeners off their feet and into a musical world of lush thought-provoking rock.
Lost Notes From Forgotten Songs finds each guest (backed by the Six Parts Seven) breathing new life, energy and lyrics into their song, drawing you into a harmonious sonic world recalling long walks on the beach and hot cocoa on a cold winter's night. The lo-fi pop of Beam's ethereal vocals and delicate acoustic strumming on "Sleeping Diagonally" conjures up a dream-like state. Sure, some may wonder how somber lo-fi indie rock could make you feel this way, but once Beam begins singing you'll stop wondering as he engulfs you in a sea of emotion.
"From California to Houston, on Lightspeed" uses the silent space within the song, as well as distorted guitars, piano, monotonous drumming and Brock's distinctive, quirky vocals, to propel the underlying examination of long-distance relationships in the process of deflating. "Seems Like Most Everything Used to Be Something Else," reassembled by Pall Jenkins of the Black Heart Procession, uses the soulful sampling of beats, pianos, lap steel and husky spoken vocals to create an ambient and textured lyrical world.
Perhaps the best interpretation of a Six Parts Seven song comes from Katie Eastburn of Young People, with her "Re-Vitalized" version of "Cold Things Never Catch Fire." With an intense vocal quality that somehow reminds me of both PJ Harvey and Björk, Eastburn and company combine an eerie rock sensibility with spastic beats, the end result being an affective recording with lush, engaging sounds. However, my love for this song is more deeply rooted in Eastburn's fearlessness at showing emotion. If showing emotion means screaming over spastic beats and your own vocals, then by all means let it go, sister.
In the end Lost Notes From Forgotten Songs showcases musical teamwork. Communicating intense emotions through textured lyrics and sounds, the Six Parts Seven have found a way to collaborate musically with some of their good friends, creating in the process an album that is truly inspirational. For those of you who have ever questioned the meaning of life and the ways of the world, the Six Parts Seven are here to at least attempt to supply some answers.