Many young bands either sound unoriginal by copying their influences too closely, or end up making disorganized and unstructured music in an effort to sound wholly original. Revival Times doesn’t make these mistakes—they have crafted their own unique variation of folk-tinged indie-rock, a substantial accomplishment for a band playing in the over-saturated Williamsburg music scene. The most exciting thing about Revival Times is how a seemingly unremarkable band can be quite remarkable.
On stage, the band is surprisingly relaxed. During a recent set at Union Pool, guitar player Hunter Bowen caught up with a friend in the audience while the band tuned their instruments. Bass player Matt Houston, during a very quiet moment, asked the audience to “Please, calm down.” However when the band is playing, they are completely focused. At the Union Pool show, Gary Tedder, the group’s chief songwriter, would at times close his eyes and turn towards the drummer while eliciting precise sounds from his guitar. Revival Times’s behavior on stage can be read as a metaphor for their music: lax on the surface, but in actuality tight, sharp, and focused.
The guitars are pleasant and sweet without being twee. The singing is sensitive and ethereal. Each song has as its focal point a particular mood. “Ear to the Ground” juxtaposes twangy guitars, a somber bass line, and melancholy singing with garbled distortion. The phrase “one ear to the ground” is sung repeatedly, as though it’s the essence of how the narrator lives his life. He is listening for faint sounds coming from the ground, as though there’s a secret he can find if he just listens closely enough. It’s a song trying to remain optimistic while inevitably succumbing to loneliness. “Song as Transportation” is the opposite, starting with a delicate guitar that turns into a musical rejection of misery. It starts out slowly, but becomes more muscular as the tempo speeds up. Tedder’s singing becomes livelier as the music builds ecstatically. It ends abruptly, but effectively, right before the music exhausts itself. It evokes the sensation of being ambushed with elation.
Revival Times is an unassuming band. But while they aren’t breaking any new ground, they’ve discovered a fresh path in well-trodden territory. Their music is carefully crafted and fundamentally enjoyable. It will be worth checking out how they build on their already solid musical foundation when they release their self-titled EP.