Downpilot “Flicker”

By One Track Mind on Thursday, October 15th, 2009  |  2,145 views

Alt-Country, Indie Rock

Downpilot “Flicker” Downpilot “Flicker”

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This past Tuesday, Seattle’s Paul Hiraga released his third full-length as Downpilot. Released by Hamburg, Germany label Tapete Records, They Kind of Shine features Hiraga firmly holding the reins, playing nearly every instrument on every track and employing his background as a producer to great effect. Beginning with 2005’s Leaving Not Arriving, Downpilot’s records have received substantial critical acclaim, even if that praise has not directly translated into popular success–which is surprising given how easygoing the melodies are on his latest effort.

Hiraga’s voice, rugged and smooth, is a rootsier amalgam of Jeff Mangum and Adam Schlesinger; musically, however, the touchstones are quieter: Neil Halstead and Joe Pernice’s respective solo works; latter day Teenage Fanclub; Matthew Barber; or Red House Painters. There isn’t quite enough drawl or regional flavor to qualify the “alt-country” label, and not quite enough oomph to validate the “rock” in “indie rock,” but Downpilot ekes out a comfortable middle ground between the two.

The fifth track on They Kind of Shine, “Flicker,” is the perfect illustration of this in-between space. Downpilot is an easy listen in the most satisfying way: Hiraga never overcomplicates his melodies or instrumentation, instead having the smarts to let his talent shine through. This approaches also allows for his beautiful lyrical imagery to command more attention and for the detail work (the drawn out chords of a vintage organ, the supple notes from a steel guitar) to carry more weight. “Flicker” is a song the listener almost melts into and has something of the fuzziness of an old photograph to it–a memory strongly felt but remembered through a fog. This warmth speaks to Hiraga’s strengths as that rarest class of songwriters: the storyteller.

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Rate It Here:  My ears, they bleed!Never againMehNot my thangOne listen is enoughGood, not greatWorth a listenPlaylist-worthyThis my jam!Songasm!!! (24 votes, average: 7.54 out of 10)


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Jennifer Kincaid Says:

    Oh…that was lovely. This song made me feel like I was reliving snippits of good memories of an old lover…a smile here, a sweet look there….

  2. GeezrRckr Says:

    ^omg…that is SO hipstery.

    as for the jam….it’s def alt-country. meh.